Prepping for Dillo Day: Get to know Chance The Rapper

Scott Ostrin, Columnist

Chance The Rapper is coming to Northwestern for Dillo Day. Congratulations, you are now completely caught up to speed on the performers for NU’s annual music festival on May 31.

I didn’t personally see the teaser that Mayfest put out, but if you are at all familiar with Chance The Rapper’s music, calling this a teaser is like calling Gary Busey subtle. It was plainly obvious to most of us that Chance was going to be announced. You only have to hear that squawk, chirp, screech, or some other avian noise descriptor once to know the choice that Mayfest has made for its daytime headliner.

And it’s a good choice. Chance is a Chicago native, and he’s hot right now. It’s more important, in my opinion, to give a platform to someone who is on the precipice rather than someone like Wiz Khalifa, one of last year’s rap performers, who had already made a real name for himself at that point. Remember, Chance is still on the mixtape portion of his career. All your favorite rap and hip-hop artists start there: Mac Miller, Frank Ocean (God I love “nostalgia, ULTRA.”), Wiz Khalifa, even Yeezus himself with 2003’s “Get Well Soon.” The point is, this is an important jumping-off moment in Chance’s career. We will be seeing Chance in a (hopefully) transitional phase between mixtapes to full-blown LPs, which I think is incredibly exciting.

But what about “Acid Rap” itself? I am an album reviewer first and foremost, after all. And even though this mixtape was released last year, I still feel its presence on campus. Whether kicking off pre-games to “Good Ass Intro” and its gospel organs and sultry “ooohs,” or “Juice,” providing much-needed chill vibes for a hangout, Chance has definitely made himself known to NU students.

“Acid Rap” is fun, straight up. Chance is enjoying himself (laughingly dissing the Los Angeles Lakers at one point), the production is light, and most importantly it empathizes with us. The guy is only 20 years oldjust five months older than me (a scary thought). His refrain of “Everybody’s somebody’s everything … nobody’s nothing” seems perfectly aimed at the age group he finds himself in: kids suddenly thrust into adulthood. Never mind that it’s situated in a bunch of rough-riding lyrics. It’s a feel good refrain that nicely segues into the heartfelt “Interlude.”

But what about the voice? And those chirps? Or squawks, or whatever? Aren’t those annoying? While I would argue that Chance’s voice is an acquired taste, not all critics are so favorable. Pitchfork reviewer Jeff Weiss, in his review of “Acid Rap” compared Chance’s voice to “occasionally (sounding like) an Animaniac playing the harmonica.” I guess if you always wanted to know what it would sound like to hear Yakko or Wakko rapping through a harmonica, now’s your chance. My sarcasm aside, his voice reminds me, conceptually, of Tom Wait’s voice. Here are two artists who have made a decision to rap or sing in unconventional ways. That may be a turn-off to some, but I think it plays to the advantage of the artist, allowing them to mold their songs to conform to them and their talents.

But it doesn’t matter whether or not his voice turns you off. It’s Dillo Day! You’ll be there, and so will I. Take the next two months to put Chance in your Spotify playlists and gain that fine wine sensibility to appreciate his music. At the very worst, you’ll be screaming his lyrics along with the rest of us on May 31.

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