Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Song of the Day #308 - Chance the Rapper - Mixtape (ft. Young Thug & Lil Yachty)

In that choppa I see your perimeter!


The praise for Coloring Book just keeps rolling in, which is pretty beautiful to see. Not just because I feel validated in my own gushing support... though that is pretty nice... feels "prophetic", or something, lol. But also cause it's such an endearingly uplifting and sincere project that I want to see it succeed in every imaginable metric. It seems impossible that someone couldn't be on Coloring Book's "side", couldn't be "rooting for" it. But it isn't like all the commentary has been unilaterally positive. In fact, a lot of people have beef with this same endearing quality. People who aren't really "feeling it", I guess. I can understand this. Right now, I'm pretty happy, my life is pretty sweet, but I can easily imagine other times where Chance's message would fall flat, feel fake, or even worse, corny.

The other complaint I've seen a lot involves this song, usually from a completely disjoint crowd: people who were really "feeling it", and then were caught off guard by Thugger and LIL BOAT and left unable to process the subtle and graceful forms with which the energy of trap manifests. I can kiiiiiinda understand this. Like the juxtaposition between "Mixtape" and the chilling tragedy "Same Drugs", which immediately precedes it, is pretty crazy, sure. Maybe it's Chance calling attention to the very "mixtapiness" of Coloring Book, with this defiantly un-album development? And the song's relatively straightforward structure - a verse for Chance and each guest, wrapped with a catchy hook - also suggests this tape over album mentality.

But when we look at what that mentality enables, I have to really question people who call this the worst track of CB. Questions like: "Do you just straight up dislike Young Thug and/or Lil Yachty?" and "wtf why?" and then "but you still think Chance's verse was great, right?". Like other tracks with guests, Chance gets caught up in the fun his friends are having, and rocks his own version of their free but transcendent flow. He dips a bit close to the punchline-driven clevercore rap that litters the mediocre work of his pale imitators... "They gotta ask if they may, Cinco de Mayo", a dig on rappers signed to labels, is simultaneously the best and worst line of the entire tape. The heart of the verse is at the end, though, when his undying sincerity overpowers his need to make jokes, and he talks about the influence Kanye's College Dropout had on him as a kid.

Young Thug's verse is a Young Thug verse and I hope that should suffice by now. In this one he rhymes "sauna" and "panda", proving the power of Desiigner's great gift to humanity; says the word "perimeter", one of the most fun words to hear Young Thug say; and goes into his full ecstasy falsetto mode, which is his own blessing onto the world.

And then Lil Yachty's verse, which, although I think is the major source of people's ire, is actually the highlight of the song. Sure, the way he starts with "Am I the only one who really care about cover art?", a strange parody of the song's hook, makes you think we're in for just some more typical Yachty stuff, but the autobiography that follows is actually pretty compelling and inspirational. It's his own "Ultralight Beam" moment. I mean honestly there's an argument to be made for that, in terms of relative success and exposure and stuff. And I'll go as far as saying that "Bitch it's Boat from the 6" is just as good as "Look at lil Chano from 79". But maybe I shouldn't lol.

Okay wait though the real highlight of the song is right at the start, when you hear Thugger on the intro, talking about some symbolic shit that might make sense to literally only him, and then Yachty's signature "Lil Boat!" Lil B-esque ad-lib, just hearing those two sounds together... Sure, they've collaborated before, on Yachty's "Minnesota Remix" and Bankroll Mafia's "Hyenas", but these were ensemble-cast things where neither got the chance to properly shine. In the intro, in that indulgence, it's clear that the significance of this track was fully understood during its creation. Historic times.

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