For most fans, the story of Chance the Rapper begins with his 10-day suspension during senior year of high school when he began working on #10Day, a project that slowly became a real thing over the course of the following year. To some, it began this year, with the success of Acid Rap. But Chance, naturally, already had been working on music for several years, building up his lyrical skills at open mic nights and collaborating with his friend Justin (who, as the real heads know, gets shouted out on Acid Rap) in a hip-hop fusion project called Instrumentality.
Back then, Chance was known as Chano (a name collaborators from this period, like Donnie Trumpet mastermind Nico Segal, still occasionally call him), and music was, obviously, still a budding interest that pretty much only his peers were aware of. Now that he's famous and making songs with Justin Bieber and stuff, though, there's naturally a little more curiosity emerging surrounding Chance's musical origins. Reddit user lavmar recently posted links to a stash of early Chance/Chano/Instrumentality material gleaned from an old Facebook page, and now they're making the rounds.
The two tapes, Good Enough and Back to School Pack, already find Chance beginning to stake out some of his signature stylistic tics, such as his tendency to drift into a melodic, half-sung cadence. The themes, influences and thoughts that came together so smoothly on Acid Rap and #10Day are all there in rough but surprisingly polished pieces. There's an early version of #10Day's "Nostalgia" and a hint of Acid Rap cut "Paranoia"'s reflective portrait of violence on "Dear Chicago Summer." Chance calls himself "Hercules/mixed with a bit Freddy Mercury/Mixed with a little Kanye and little MJ." On Good Enough he raps over Coldplay, Daft Punk and Death Cab for Cutie.
So yeah, the pieces are all there, and the music is already pretty cohesive and fully realized, especially on songs like "Kick Back." The lyrics are deeply revealing, though, offering a portrait of Chance as a slightly less self-assured guy than the confident, affable everyman figure he strikes these days: "I want a letterman jacket so bad that it hurts" he raps at one point on Good Enough, while elsewhere he says, "I go to school just to get picked on/Every day they make me feel like I don't belong." He adds, "All I really want is a second to be heard," something that, as it happens, has come to pass. It's fascinating and exciting to see how far he's come.
Check out Good Enough and the Back to School Pack below, or download them here.