I Live-Blog #10Day Because Chance The Rapper

I remember the day I fell in love. It was a day I had to walk into the deep North East of DC after work, for reasons I can no longer remember. It was that day that my dear friend @TheQueenBRI told me that I better listen to Acid Rap. Because it was so excellent, I could not ignore it (and possibly because she wanted someone to talk abut it with.) As my go-to/favorite hip hop head, I knew she wouldn’t steer me wrong.

Ever since, I’ve been in love. I remember when I was hearing it for the first time, it was lengthy and so different than what I had expected. Sometimes Chance sings, sometimes he does some pretty weird yelling shit, that now just soundtracks long days, and other times his voice was so childlike and cartoony, that I couldn’t bare to turn my head. Even his face looks like I don’t expect it to (every time too, no disrespect, it just catches me off guard.) Chance The Rapper’s mixtape Acid Rap will likely be at the top of my list (that is if I want to/have time to make one) for 2013. (Download it here.) 

So imagine my face-palm when I realized I hadn’t heard his previous, 10 Day. After downloading it, it sat for a day while I was emerged knee-deep in Doris. Finally, when I started to listen to it, I had to turn back because we were heading out to my sister’s baby shower.

It was then, I realized, that this had to be live-blogged. There was nothing I could do about it. The universe had made this choice for me. (Download 10 Day here.)

1. 14,400 Minutes [prod. by DJ SuchNSuch] – These horns are terrific. And he’s already breaking the fourth wall, on that first line “when I got suspended.” 10 Day, I had heard is in reference to his 10 day suspension from Jones College Prep High School in Chicago. A community member through and through, Chance, short for Chancelor, spent a lot of his time with grassroots promotion, giving out his mixtape at high schools and performing all over the CHI Town area. Its no wonder I love this man, because he’s sample heavy. Managing to make a rap record by piecing together the past, oh, dear, that is the key to my heart. He does kind of sing-rap here, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m not sure why it would bother anyone. “After summer I’m alumni.” This opening track basically tells his own story, uh, Duh Sarah, and does it well over his lattice writing and the simple, almost classic production. Dig it. Yet there’s that three second silence before the next track picks up. Clues to mixtape-ology.

2. Missing You [prod. by Thomas Foolery] – Industrial sounds, classic drum fills, more electronic sounding but those off-oft-jazz electric piano keys. Reverb rap vocals? I like what you’ve done with the place. It’s too close to the mic, it’s in your headphone and its better than you. I like this whispering that’s happening. He’s kind of mumbling, but that’s OK. I get the feeling that after the tenth listen, I’ll know this by heart. More of the same equation happening here: easy backtracking while Chance weaves the story along. (I wonder how many times that old radio announcer sample “and now for something completely different” has been used?) PIANO, marry me. I hop there is more of this to come. Ahh, and layered tracking. This certainly is some serious foreshadowing for Acid Rap he knows how to layer the story in the tracking. Blips and blurts of vocal hooks, he’s singing and the piano locks it all in place.

3. Nostalgia – Opener sounds kind of like cartoons. This ‘tape has no polish on it, yet its strong. His vocals sound like they were recorded in a refrigerator. But the memories he’s spilling about cracking his head open at his auntie’s house and playing hide and seek, is just romantic. There’s the singing again. And what sounds like a clarinet, swooning over me. He kind of doesn’t sound like himself here. It’s the timbre that seems off, or the crack in his voice that’s too familiar is missing. But the variety is killer. More of this, please.

4. Windows (Ft Alex Wiley and Akenya Seymour) – The “this that six blunt rotation music/this is just got off six months probation music” kind of reminds me of Kanye or Em announcing what kind of music they’re making (you know, “I don’t make hate music, I make fight music for high school kids”) and his delivery sounds so much like Kanye at times. Woah, this is weird. The production sounds like something found on Biggie’s records. If this is the product of what’s coming around and going around, I sure am glad I’m around to see it develop. “I just wanna role with my windows down” is a nice loop hook delivered by a woman who knows her voice. Looks like Akenya Seymour. She’s smooth and she makes me glad that Chance has women on his stuff.

5. Brain Cells [prod. by Peter Cottontale] – Chance sounds like himself on this. More of the same equation – but wait. Isn’t this the same thing pretty much everywhere? We’ve seen a lot of this equation: simple beats, lattice patch work on the vocals/writing. (I saw this on The Chronic, guessed it was there on more West Coast stuff. I claimed that’s what Biggie did and it’s definitely what, most of, Odd Future does.) Looks like its just something any successful rapper can manage. Why complicate things with too much production when you want the listener to focus on the story you’re telling? I mean, we all kind of knew that he was a bit of an acid head, since he named it Acid Rap and all, but this track sure is proof – if you ever needed it. “I burnt too many brain cells down/sing it with me” and cue the reverb. This is done SO.RIGHT. And the Fender Rhodes at the end, the instrumental piece. Ah, and more silence. Sign of the mixtape-times.

6. Long Time – That voice is VERY familiar. What is this indie rock voice I hear? Who knew that indie rock and hip hop would be so closely related. I guess no one knew at the time, but I mean, how could we not expect this to all be interchangeable. I love the reverb on his vocal tracking. He’s yelling, not yet screaming (probably not ever) but getting it out. This track has a Sufjan feeling on it. It’s the strings, the drum stick percussive in the background and the…all of it. FUCK what is that voice. It might take me days to figure this one out. Nevermind. Thanks, Internet – it’s Beruit’s “Nantes” from their 2007 release The Flying Club CupSo, yes, the marriage of indie rock, maybe just present in Chicago rappers, is very real. (By Chicago rappers I mean Chance and Kanye and Justin Vernon.) Its not even a strange marriage in retrospect, new music is new music is new music.

7. 22 Offs – Hmm, this sounds like nothing else he’s done. Good looping on the sample, classic R&B, like you can almost hear the breaks in the vinyl. Ahh, its Flying Lotus – so they say – and it sounds super terrific happy hour. And more of that after-track-silence. It’s a nice treat. Kind of clears your head for the next piece.

8. U Got Me Fucked Up [prod. by Chuck Inglish] – Didn’t Chuck Inglish just show up on Doris? This mixtape is going to swim around in my head for days, likely months, and the hip hop rabbit hole is just getting deeper and deeper. Honestly, I’m a real dim-wit for having never looked up something and for never having found “whosampled.com”. I mean, what’s wrong with me? Chance’s lyrics here, are they this thick on Acid Rap? I need to find out. I have so much listening to do. There’s a lot less screaming on this piece. This background sounds, retro-grade. Part of the retro-renaissance, that’s for sure.

9. Family (ft Vic Mensa and Sulaiman) [prod. by The Blended Babies] – I’m not sure who or what’s happening here. But that super computerized sound is actually, yeah, it’s working for me. Vic Mensa, I assume, you’re first, and you’re speedy. Chance, layering his vocals, doing that spider-webbing thing, almost. This mixtape has a lot going on it. I’m not sure what I would write if I had to properly review it. (But honestly, what IS the proper review? And do mixtapes ever get that business knocking on their door?) It kind of makes you wonder – worry almost – what will become when he has money and it gets the title of “album” and he has to be more formal? Wouldn’t it be better if all hip hop could be a mixtape. That way, the rules would be loose and they would feel no actual responsibility. They could just do, whatever it is they wanted.) This track has more of a repetitive nature, at least it feels that way, maybe because of the computerized sounding loops. I guess a lot of it is repetitive, but something being cut and pasted, just makes it sound more-so.

10. Juke Juke [prod. by Caleb James] – Now THAT’S “Juicy”. Or at least what “Juicy” sampled. Which is always welcome, DUH. And there’s that coin-hit – like the hip hop coin-grab. (…You know, when Mario would jump and grab the coin, it made that almost cash register sound.) And we have the sped-up childish loop, almost sounds like its the JUICE hits, but faster. This mixtape is messier, but I kind of prefer it that way. I hope Chance never obeys the rules. Because this coloring outside the lines he does on this mixtape is just, the tits. Ahh, its an Isley Brothers sample (thanks, Internet!) and what’s this? Guitar work? I wonder what you’re doing here. Certainly fattening up the track. But I can do without those drum machine drum fills. I guess I’ll tolerate them for Chancelor.

11. Fuck You Tahm Bout – Woah. More industrial, “modern” almost tracking. Autotune, layering, what is. HAPPENING HERE? I hate it. I have no idea what to do with this. Likely, place this under the track I’ll skip over the most. Never expected this. It’s like that lazy shit hip hop does. But does that “fuck that old school” like mean to break the fourth wall? Is he addressing what he’s doing while he’s doing it? Or is he just still angry about being suspended? What’s that electronic build up? It’s messy and lazy. Is that the drill everyone looses their minds over? Because it kind of sounds like dog shit. Get your mind off it: I guess I’m grateful that he was suspended because it gave us/him all this material. But I’m glad he ended it all, and made Acid Rap because this, would never stand up straight in my library. Especially with that over-modulated chorus, title “Fuck You Tahm Bout” oof its…finally over.

12. Long Time II (ft. Nico Segal) [prod. by THEMPeople and Peter CottonTale] – The piano, finds its place. And we’re back. I guess that previous track is what we call a banger? (I’m not sure I ever understood their point? Maybe it’s because I don’t ‘CLUB you know?) Oh, there’s those drum machine beats. Don’t be lazy, I’m thinking. But this piano work is like, heart strings. And the muted trumpet is kind of redeeming whatever is happening on the electronic percussion track. Wait, this song samples “Where’s Your Head At?” by Basement Jaxx? That is weird. And I can’t hear it anywhere. Maybe its that mysterious trumpet in the background? I always thought that song was the middle school dance banger? And it was fun and upbeat. Ahh, “where’s your head at” makes it into the chorus after Chance lamenting that old niggas want to sign him, etc etc, either way, I’m glad they didn’t yet – JUST DON’T GET LAZY CHANCE. BE YOSELF. Strange/nice sample work tho.

13. Prom Night [Prod by Prince Talent, DJ SuchNSuch and THEMpeople] – That whosampled.com website is really ruining my imagination. This one is “So Good, So Right” by Brenda Russell. And it works nicely. Chance laments his weird name (it is weird, let’s be honest) and references his teachers writing him off (kind of like another young, at the time, fellow Chicago rapper, right?) At least he has a lot of love in his heart. “Oh, you heard my mixtape? That’s great/Hope you get a job…..Prom night is kind of like the Grammys.” I look forward to getting through this so I can listen to this over and over again. I know I’ll be able to digest it better, DUH. This makes me realize, very few times in your life can you completely fall in love with a record and then you realize there are previous. You get to swim in that love all over again. That’s what’s happening right now. “I missed Prom to spin a show”. You know what, my dad didn’t go to his high school prom and he turned out OK. The prom is overrated. Oh damn, this disco break down, with the string chorus in the background and the rhythm guitar. PLEASE, MARRY ME ALREADY. This song raps up like the end of the record. A nice fade out. Silence, silence.

14. Hey Ma (ft. Lili K and Peter CottonTale) [prod. by Zak _Fox_ Jablow and MC TREE] 2 – And that’s not the end. There should never be an end. So “Prom Night” just breaks the fourth wall entirely, telling us the story where Chance can’t give a fuck about high school. (Honestly after high school you realize its all a big joke. You either don’t pay attention or you do. If you DO pay attention, you see the difference. Sounds like Chance did.) This entire 10 Day does JUST that. Maybe this is why I love hip hop so much: it tells its’ own story, while telling a story, in its’ own medium, it’s like the ultimate brain-fuck. Hmm, I like the female chorus on here. But I’m sad I don’t “get” the Chicago shout outs. I need to get my ass to the windy city. This is a nice closing track. It has that rhodes feel at the end, electric jazz keyboard. Shout out the Thelonious. I like the way he does this, fade out, end it with that Chance “WELP.” Finely tuned man, finely tuned.