Hip-hop isn’t all about guns, drugs, and women. Sure, it has a tradition of talking about these topics — and rappers have the right to do so. It originated, after all, in the Bronx in New York City.
Plus, hip-hop has a history of being a means to protest. We all know about the social activism of Tupac Shakur and NWA.
So it is amazing when we see the rise of someone in the hip-hop scene with no backing from a major record label whatsoever: Chance the Rapper.
Chance seemingly has it all now, especially with the release of his debut album The Big Day. But why is there such a contrast between how fans and critics feel about his latest work?
Chance Had It In Him to Succeed
If you’ve been following the story of Chance the Rapper since the beginning, it’d be hard not to feel so proud of him. He started from the bottom and clawed his way up.
Chance’s first music was the result of him being temporarily suspended for bringing marijuana in high school. It also helped that his teachers didn’t think he’d make it in the industry.
And so he came up with his 10 Day mixtape, a project that took eight months. The duration was all worth it though as Complex Magazine and Forbes took notice.
But 10 Day wasn’t going to be his crowning achievement — far from it. With his second project Acid Rap, more critics discovered him and praised the mixtape.
‘Coloring Book’ and Worldwide Attention
Chance the Rapper wouldn’t be where he is today without Kanye West. The latter released his album The Life of Pablo in 2016 and it featured Chance in the iconic track “Ultralight Beam”.
From there, the 26-year-old rapper released Coloring Book. This was his third mixtape and it landed at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 even if it was only available on streaming platforms.
Critics loved Coloring Book. Chance would go on to win three Grammys in 2017: Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Album.
‘The Big Day’ Feels Arduous, Yet Critics Don’t Seem to Mind
Let’s be honest here. Music is subjective, yes. But for the most part, fans weren’t happy at all about The Big Day.
For one, the album was 77 minutes long — that’s over an hour. That would be okay if the tracks were great, but that is far from the case.
The Big Day is a celebration of life for Chance. He’s happily married and he’s grateful for everything. But all these positive things don’t make an album sound cohesive and genuinely heartfelt.
Chance’s verses here lack the appeal of what made his first three mixtapes so appealing in the first place. It’s cute and all but there’s nothing else for listeners to pay attention to.
Yet here’s something odd: The critics aren’t that critical of The Big Day. AllMusic and The Guardian both gave it four stars out of five while The A.V. Clu awarded it with an “A”.
It was clear that social media was less impressed about The Big Day, but the big websites were more forgiving. Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste.
Then again, it was the negative reviews from the ordinary people which made Chance admit that he was feeling the shame and overall disappointment — that he wants to do better.
Only time will tell how The Big Day pans out and reveals whether the critics were doing something shady or just being generally welcoming of Chance’s debut album.