Album Review: Chance The Rapper – The Big Day

The Big Day

Size shouldn’t matter but in rap of all places going large is the only way to fly – as Lil’ Wayne once said, ‘I feel big, but not as in weight’.

Chancellor ‘Chance’ Bennett has always given the impression of a street kid who dreamt about being the most famous star of his era, an ambition which the follow up to 2017’s Grammy-winning Coloring Book might just see him fulfill.

The Big Day is that most easy to screw up of ideas: the concept album. Based on his wedding to long-term partner Kirsten Corley, the happy couple want us to really share the joy; at nearly 80 minutes long it demands that the listener makes a Chance-shape hole in their schedules.

Not that it should come as a surprise, but despite the Chicagoan’s increasing profile away from music, The Big Day is a familiar blend of lightweight melody and collaboration-heavy jams, the revelation not his contacts list but the grand span of ideas and sounds. Some of the draftees have raised an eyebrow – Death Cab for Cutie? Randy Newman? – but the veteran songwriter’s turn on 5 Year Plan gives truth to a couple of things: the first being that it works, the second that this is by no stretch of the imagination a rap album, other than in its broadest sense.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of heavier weights than those to give some steel to proceedings. On Roo for instance, it’s the turn of brother Taylor along with Coco Rosie to pitch the family’s coming of age story, Gucci Mane smoothly makes the polished to a shine bars of Big Fish his own, and Nicki Minaj cameos genially on the soulful closer Zanies And Fools.

To Pimp A Butterfly this is not then, more a clear signal that despite his recent activism, the groom has decided that a wedding day is a time to make everyone welcome. To be a fun sponge for a moment though, listeners will need some patience with the handful of skits dotted about, but the breakouts from type are thankfully bold enough to compensate, the Shawn Mendes led jumping deep house of Ballin’ Flossin Miami dancefloor ready, while the gospel influenced Found A Good One (Single No More) finds SWV and Pretty Vee doing a first dance for the happy couple with a difference.

Predictably, the contrivances can sometimes feel like a step too far; Handsome, despite the presence of a typically brash Megan Thee Stallion, fails to rise above verbally jerking off, but there are also moments that get satisfyingly out of the pocket. The best of these are the steepling church choir soul of opener All Day Long and a contemplative solo ballad in Town On The Hill, with Get A Bag’s autotuned sparkle also in the running, each flawlessly executed.

There are plenty of ways to supersize your career: The Big Day is Chance The Rapper taking up residence rent free in the heads of his bitterest critics, and at the same time mastering a dozen strands of pop.

Like all clued up wedding DJ’s, he’s got something for everyone.

7/10

(Andy Peterson)

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