Updated: Apr 3
Today, we're going to take a look back at the 2013 mixtape from breakout rapper Chance the Rapper titled 'Acid Rap'. This mixtape followed his debut '10 Day' and was highly anticipated, and Chance made his previous mixtape that extra bit better by dropping this absolute classic. The production on this mixtape is immaculate from start to finish. It's mostly fun, bouncy and energetic reflecting Chance's energy but is also can be chilled and laid back too depending on the circumstance of the song. Piano, strings and drums seem to be the prevalent instruments in the instrumentals. Chance's lyricism is full of funny punchlines and wordplay while demonstrating lyrical acrobats as he says in witty and clever ways. His flow is great throughout the mixtape, and really helps with his fun and energetic delivery as well. Every single feature on this mixtape matches Chance's fun energy and they all put in enjoyable performances as well. Content wise as well, Chance mostly speaks on the fact he's made it, promotes happiness while also giving us a social commentary of life in Chicago and the violence with it. Drugs and religion are also a key theme on this project.
The mixtape begins with the explosive 'Good Ass Intro', with a jazz inspired beat including a piano which carries it well at the start and some nice drums and bass that bring it together, it's a great introduction and gets us used to the fun style most of this mixtape will be. Chance himself talks about being even better than his last mixtape '10 Day', while going at people that doubted him such as his teachers. We're also introduced to the great wordplay that is reoccurring throughout the project, "Keep my work out in Texas, that's just me flexing my lungs // See them showing they teeth, that's just them flapping they gums // If they bite and I'm snapping, clap clap, collapsing they lungs". On the next track 'Pusha Man', Chance is starting to live the life of a rapper. Again, the production has a jazz influence to it, the beat is fun, the drum pattern is great and there's a wind instrument in the beat that keeps the track flowing. Chance himself has a bouncy and elastic flow, where he hits us with some great wordplay again, "Now it's just a red pill // Got a blue and a handful of Advils" - this makes sense in the whole context of the phrase, check it out it's impressive. The hook on this track is pretty catchy, and the vocal pitch changes sound nice nice creating a really good song. Following on from that we have a more vulnerable Chance in the next track 'Paranoia'. Chance talks about violence in Chicago (especially in Summer) and how they've been abandoned by the higher ups of America. The production is more slowed down, with slow drums and a slow synth keyboard creating a dejected beat. The beat then switches before the third verse, with more deep drums and a deeper bass creating a more haunting vibe. Chance himself uses a lot of hard hitting, emotive bars to get his point across, "Down here, it's easier to find a gun // Than it is to find a fucking parking spot".
'Cocoa Butter Kisses' is a nostalgic song where Chance talks about the days of getting cocoa butter kisses from his mum and how he misses the days - he does this with his signature punchlines and clever wordplay. The song features Vic Mensa who gives us a great verse with a solid flow and some great wordplay while we get the classic speed of Twista providing us with a solid verse. The production on this song is great too. The melody of the drums make this hook more catchy than it already was - partner that with the piano and the vocals during the hook and it creates a really warming atmosphere. The next track 'Juice' is probably my favourite Chance song ever. The song is Chance looking back at his come up, and he does this with a really goofy, fun and energetic cadence that makes the whole track so catchy. The production is also fun with the bouncy piano and strings, while Chance gives us some more of his classic punchlines and wordplay, "And then everybody wanna sip // 'Til the juice spill, everybody wanna bib // And then everybody wanna dip". 'Lost' is a more laid back song where Chance tells a tale about two lovers who know they shouldn't be together. The hook of this one is very catchy, and the laid back strings and drums make it such a vibe. Noname as well has a fine feature with some proper bars such as "Practice backflips, tragic actress // On a movie with no screen".
'Everybody's Something' is another great rack with a chilled vibe created by the slow drum-based instrumental. On this track, Chance talks on numerous topics but during the hook is promoting self worth by expressing that everybody means the world to somebody else - whether they know it or not. This track features Saba, who was up and coming at the time, who has a solid verse mostly talking on Chicago's youth and violence with a hard cadence and some bars, "Obviously, they are on a come up // With better chances tobogganing in the fucking summer". A short interlude proceeds titled 'Interlude (That's Love)' where Chance pretty much lets the listener know love is a great feeling, better than any feeling a materialistic object could bring you over a triumphant beat and triumphant hook. It's a heartwarming track where Chance tells you a list of things love is better than such as "What's better than popping bottles trying to ball in the club // Is the first caveman pops with his son, ball and a club". A very nice interlude to get you in a good mood. 'Favorite Song' is yet another fun track, where Chance is literally telling you this will be your favourite song. The wordplay, cool one liners, alliteration etc. all make for an enjoyable verse or two from Chance and his fun cadence and energy helps him going into the goofy, yet catchy hook. The production once again is entertaining and wacky while Childish Gambino gives us an entertaining feature with witty one liners and punchlines - matching Chance for his fun energy. Yet another great song on this classic mixtape.
After non stop hit after hit - we reach the first song on the track list I skip - 'NaNa'. I'll start with the positives, which is that the verse is fine with Chance's usual slick wordplay and the Action Bronson feature is a fun addition - but other than that the song hasn't got much going for it. The melody of the guitar in the beat carries Chance's annoying vocals which is offputting - but the beat isn't exactly bad - it's the hook that makes this song a skip. The vocals on the hook aren't fun - they're just straight up annoying and unbearable and makes this a low point of the mixtape. Things pick back up with the next track 'Smoke Again'. It's a song about random stuff once again, with another great beat consisting of booming 808s and horns. Chance with more quick witty punchlines throughout his verses, "Lean all on the square, that's a fuckin' rhombus", is joined by the best feature of the album Ab-Soul who's verse has even better punchlines than Chances such as ,"We kicked it then I score, soccer game (Yeah) // She was a phony goalie, I got great aim though, don't insult me". The low pitched hook sounds great and gives it an even more relaxed atmosphere to create another standout track.
Chance is at his most vulnerable on 'Acid Rain', as he talks on everything from gun violence to him missing his youth with some hard hitting lines, "My big homie died young, just turned older than him // I seen it happen, I seen it happen, I see it always // He still be screaming, I see his demons in empty hallways". The production suits the atmosphere perfectly due to its melancholy feel and slow drum pattern. 'Chain Smoker' is yet another feel good banger where Chance brings all the themes of drugs, gun violence and religion together into one track. Once again Chance lays a pretty catchy hook over an energetic, upbeat instrumental with nice 808s. The finale to this mixtape is titled 'Everything's Good (Good Ass Outro)', and Chance looks back at his success while stating everything is good. It serves as a great outro the the mixtape, and the production as usual is fine with the light piano keys and the drums creating a chilled vibe.
To conclude 'Acid Rap' is a project full of charisma, personality and most importantly bangers. This project is nearly flawless and without 'NaNa' and a few minor issues, this could've potentially been a perfect 10/10 album. It's one of, if not, my favourite mixtapes of all time.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Pusha Man, Paranoia, Cocoa Butter Kisses, Juice, Interlude (That's Love), Favorite Song, Smoke Again, Acid Rain, Chain Smoker
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: NaNa
OVERALL RATING: Solid 8.5/10
*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*