When the last book in the Harry Potter series came out in summer 2007, a friend started habitually pointing out people reading it in public, and it seemed like we couldn’t get on a train without seeing one or two. Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing the same thing for Acid Rap
, the new second mixtape from 20-year-old Chatham MC Chancelor Bennett, aka Chance the Rapper
—I’ve heard it leaking out of strangers’ headphones on the streets and on the el so often that I’m beginning to believe that Chance is as ubiquitous as Harry. It’s easy to get sucked into Acid Rap
and hard to stop playing it once you’re hooked—it’s a well-polished mixtape that feels like a proper album, and it appeals to hip-hop heads and rap philistines alike with its mix of mature introspection and drug-fueled party anthems. There are a lot of great tracks on Acid Rap
, but “Chain Smoker”
may best demonstrate Chance’s crossover potential. Its smooth, poppy instrumental track combines a wistfully soulful synth melody, processed and edited vocal samples, and a rattling dance beat, which together have a loose, open-ended feel that allows him to switch smoothly between nasal rapping and sweet singing; it’s so life-affirming that even his lyrics, which address fears about his mortality, sound irrepressible. Sometimes when these songs get stuck in my head, I catch myself mimicking Chance’s high-energy dancing—and I don’t care who sees me. —Leor Galil Sir Michael Rocks opens.