Chance the Rapper’s sold-out concert at United Center on Saturday ended in tears. Happy kind. Overcome by emotion after his family surprised him with bouquets of flowers on stage, the hometown hip hop pioneer waved goodbye to his group and told the crowd that he couldn’t rap the last song.
It was the kind of night on the Near West Side where the celebration of a 10-year mixtape turned into an uplifting affair involving a combination of music, ideas, and gratitude from old friends, former collaborators, and dare to dream of better. a more inclusive world than most of us live in.
The event functioned as the crowning event for a week featuring several local Luck-themed experiences. A pop-up store, special exhibits and face-to-face conversation at the WNDR Museum at Apple Store Those on Michigan Avenue served as the starter. Chance will soon be giving similar concerts in New York and Los Angeles.
Maintaining a relatively low profile for the past few years, Chance is using the 10th anniversary of his most famous mixtape (“Acid Rap”) as a springboard for his new, highly anticipated project “Star Line Gallery.” It blends art, sound and cinematography through interdisciplinary studies and collaborations – and it seems like every month is a reminder of its high status in a genre that thrives.
This is not a new strategy. In their efforts to maintain their relevance, former rock bands continue to commemorate landmark albums and tours. The trend was much less common in hip hop. But Chance is currently at a crossroads.
As little as seven years ago, a Chicago native ruled the city, and his music resonated across the country. presided over a major Painting Day festival at the then US Cellular Field. Since then, the entrepreneur has released just one album (“The Big Day,” 2019), a holiday mixtape, and a handful of singles. The 30-year-old now faces pressure from adults to pursue a record that has met with lukewarm response and is still proving that he can innovate.
Indeed, as Chance looked back throughout the 95-minute set, he also evaluated the present and the future. Despite only playing one original (“The Highs & The Lows”) made since 2016, born rapper Chancellor Johnathan Bennett paused to deliver a lengthy monologue that tried to contextualize “Acid Rap” and its value.
Speaking cordially, Chance talked about what the concert meant to him and said that his daughters saw him live for the first time. He emphasized the importance of “Acid Rap” from social and personal perspectives. He hardened though, and removed the pink lenses that often accompany trips into the past.
“That part of my life is over,” she said, before talking about how much she’s grown and changed since she made the mixtape and became a darling of the indie community. The combination of candor and precision instilled in Chance’s messages the impression that he saw anniversary concerts as definitive endpoints – one door closing and another opening.
The weight of his direct statements, combined with his ebullient energy and grateful demeanor, helped give the show the liberating feel of an end-of-summer block party, where all participants were protected from physical harm, insults, beef, racism, anxiety and curfews. – It’s not impossible in Chance’s imagination or dreams.
Backed by his longtime Social Experiment colleagues (led by trumpeter Nico Segal and keyboardist Peter Cottontale) and backed by a trio of backing vocalists, Chance envisioned places filled with warmth, fun, and faith. He proudly represented Chicago in verse, imagery, and outcries as well as guest selection. Opener Saba joined Chance on “Everybody’s Something” and “Angels”; Other Chicago-born rappers Noname, Vic Mensa, and Twista also contributed lines to the selection of the songs.
Repetitive gospel harmonies, R&B rhythms, pulsating beats and footsteps have further connected much of the music to the city, to the proud Black church traditions of the South and West sides, and to the home culture that erupted in underground clubs. Chance divided his time between rapping and singing, displaying a fascinating talent for changing tones, accents, and tempos, much like a narrator voicing multiple characters in an adventure story. His community had a similar adaptability.
Chance paused one song without warning, added an extra chorus to another, and split into parts of the Lauryn Hill fare without putting anyone in a loop. A fluent rendition of Segal and company’s song “Sunday Candy” made the band appear in court as Chance briefly searched for words? No problem. A loose reinterpretation of the theme of the animated PBS series “Arthur” originally made by Ziggy Marley as “Believe in Yourself” (“Every Wonderful Day”)? Seeing how her primary refrain – “Every day can be great” – matches up with Chance’s positive-minded morals.
Yes, Chance entertained with skepticism (“All Night”), indulgence (“Smoke Again”), and vacant braggadocio (a cover of DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One”). She also punctuated a few tunes with pyrotechnics, confetti and smoke. But it kept it real, borrowing a phrase rooted in the hip hop code. He never acted on anyone in the audience, glorified or stereotyped himself as a celebrity.
Whether he’s jumping in black pants, a Blackhawks jersey, and his signature “3” baseball cap during the praise dance “Blessings”, or thinking of high school, trying to be cool in Michael Jackson and his introspective “Acid Rain,” Chance came across as caring and approachable. These traits have gained increasing prominence again and again, especially in “Paranoia”—a sobering Chicago post on the streets still swirling with troubling truths and unanswered questions ten years after its creation—and piano-based “Same Drugs,” whose evolutionary themes are intertwined. beyond those related to a relationship between two people.
Chance explored a range of emotions and eventually reached the surrounding love, joy, spirituality and optimism. As her father told her on stage: “(You) are a great example of doing positive things.”
Chicago, America and hip hop in general better follow his lead.
Bob Gendron is a freelance critic.
The setlist from United Center on August 19, 2023:
“All night long”
“Good Ass Introduction”
“Everybody Is Something”
“DRAM Sings Special”
“I Am One” (DJ Khaled cover)
“Highs and Lows”
“Doo Wop (That Thing)” to “Zion” (Lauryn Hill mess)
“A Wonderful Every Day” (Ziggy Marley cover)
“Ultralight Beam” (Kanye West cover)
“Cocoa Butter Kisses”
“Interlude (This Is Love)”
“Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)” (abbreviated)