Svirnovskiy: “The Big Day” sees a more grown-up Chance, and that’s a good thing

Greg Svirnovskiy, Reporter

It’s been over three years since Chance the Rapper released his last solo effort, “Coloring Book,” a stunning collection of Gospel-infused tunes and soft but fast rap tracks. Effortless, introspective, polished. The only album that’s ever made anyone want to smoke and go to church at the same time. It got me into rap — seeing this artsy crooner who I’d only ever heard before in “Sunday Candy” with songs that made you think, feel and dance.

So naturally, I eagerly awaited his debut album, dubbed “The Big Day.” I missed my stop on the L last night so I’d have more time to finish the album in its entirety before coming home, listening to its tunes in his native Chicago.

“The Big Day” has its moments. But it’s different, a sign of his age. Gone are the sermons and gospel choirs from “Coloring Book,” the youthful exuberance of “Acid Rap,” the eternal optimism from “10 Day.” It’s different now, that Chance has grown up.

The remnants of his past, though, they keep me coming back.

It starts with the first song, “All Day Long,” which harkens back to Chano’s gospely days. It sounds like a love child of “Smoke Break” and “All We Got.” John Legend reminds us all why he’s so great, belting the song’s namesake with ease and grace.

“Eternal,” the album’s third track, complete with a cameo from St. Louis-based rapper Smino, is as electrifying as it is reflective — Chance comes to grips with how much he values his wife, both practically and emotionally. Her name is Kirsten Corley; the couple married in March and share a 3-year-old daughter.

During the song, he commits himself to a new life of monogamy, of responsibility, to prove to his family that he’s capable of justifying their inherent love:

“You send him to the store and forget that he left / You send me to the store, I come back with a chef / I’ll come back out of breath.”

The track has his trademark cuts in direction and speed. I’ve never heard a rapper so easily change rhythm midline and sound as good as Chance. The word “eternal” is sung and said six times during the chorus, interspersed over itself, cut in half, or softly in the background.

It’s a bop, a banger, a love song, a story, a poem.

If he commits to his wife in “Eternal,” he confirms it in “We Go High,” crooning about a time when he wasn’t so sure, when the “Lies on my breath, she say she couldn’t take the smell of it.” He writes about the melancholy loneliness in short-circuited love, in accepting fault.

Not anymore.

“This the part of my life my lifetime movie prolly ‘bout / When they come to jump a board, I won’t ollie out.”

It’s a central theme in the album, one that is echoed in “I Got You (Always and Forever),” “The Big Day” and “5 Year Plan.”

The features are striking, if only in their sheer number. Shawn Mendes is his trademark heartthrob self in “Ballin Flossin,” where he sings the chorus, and Chano’s brother, Taylor Bennett, guest stars on “Roo,” an eccentric mashup of what feels like multiple songs, banding together in unholy matrimony. Nicki Minaj is featured in not one but two of the album’s songs, “Slide Around” and “Zanies and Foolies.”

For all of the album’s hits, it battles with a fair share of clunkers, where there’s less effort put into the lyrical choice, base and backdrop. In “Hot Shower,” it sounds like each word comes out without any emotion, no effort. He just pushes them out, with careless delivery, tone rarely changing. It’s like a half-price Famous Dex song.

And in “Ballin Flossin,” “Slide Around” and “Zanies and Foolies,” there’s no tonal change, no inflection and seemingly no desire. It’s like, for a third of the 22-song album, he’s sold out. Which begs the question: Why on earth is this album 22 songs?

Still, the album is great, capturing “Chano’s” transition to full-blown adulthood. He’s a father, a husband, a protagonist, a man.

And in the end, that’s how we all ought to view him.

As a man.

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Twitter: @gregoniceball