The day Acid Rap came out was the first time the Chicago hip-hop website Fake Shore Drive had crashed since the G.O.O.D. Music "Don't Like" remix dropped. And its a safe bet that all the people who had been awaiting it, whether they were successful at Chicago's premier hio-hop blog, or grabbed the first link from whichever obscure file hosting site they found, once they got it, they were stuck on it for the rest of the day. This is an album that compelled you to listen all the way through. In a way that most albums designed with cohesion in mind fail to do.
It sounded half calculated, with the other half left to experimentation. He set himself up with structural beams—like bookending it with juke, or fading into silence in the middle of "Pusha Man," while leaving enough room to let his sing-rapped melodies breathe from track to track. He was positive in the least corny way possible. Meanwhile, he wrapped Chicago violence in a bed of his own nostalgia, pitted his demons against his sanctity in a battle to keep the faith, and talked about how he was your bitch's ringtone—all while doing technical gymnastics with his voice.
Chance said in a recent interview "I never want to be bigger than the music." That's an interesting desire for someone whose star is on the rise. It's like appending "The Rapper" to your name when you're clearly just as much a singer, a performer, and a rising celebrity. It seems purposefully reductive, like "But I'm just a rapper, guys!" Or when he tweets "I'm just having fun with it." It's a slight flex, a humble brag, like yeah he's taking over the world at age 20, but he's just chilling. —Alexander Gleckman