Chance the Rapper
The concept for this playlist was built around the line in the opening track by Chance The Rapper that says “I woke up this morning / I woke up this morning / Gotta smile when I say that shit / I woke up this morning!”
I’ve been thinking a lot about that line since I first heard the song. I could go into a long monologue about ‘what a time it is to be alive,’ but honestly I don’t feel like sharing all of that today in my own words. I’ll share a few, but mostly I wanted to put together a playlist of songs old and new that sum up my feelings about the world.
It’s funny – I think I get a certain way at the end of every year as my team is putting together our Best Songs of the Year playlist; I think it makes me pause and think about what music really means to me. It’s weird to be able to connect so deeply to the words and art of people you don’t know at all. But when you do feel that sense of connection, it’s a really beautiful thing.
This is a collection of songs that I feel a connection to. It’s a mix of all-time favorites, recent favorites, and songs by some new artists I’m into. For one reason or another, each song gets me excited to wake up each morning. And I’m thankful to be reminded of what a gift that is.
One of the biggest laments in journalism is that you can never get a sense of personality over the phone. That’s true for a lot of people, but not fast-rising 22-year-old MC Kyle, whose sheer attitude and energy ooze through even a quick chat while he hustles to a meeting in Los Angeles.
He pauses in the middle of answers to comment on a man who has parked himself in front of an automatic door, and goes off on a tangent when I ask him what flavor of chips he’s just purchased. But at no point does this come off as the Ventura, CA rapper being unengaged with the interview, he answers every question thoughtfully and deliberately, even as he weaves through clots of foot traffic.
His earnestness and ability to jump from subject to subject are two of the things that have helped Kyle grow a large, rabid fan base, all of whom are currently blasting his second LP, Smyle, on repeat. With thousands eagerly anticipating the follow-up to his rollicking 2013 debut, Beautiful Loser, Kyle said he did feel more pressure stepping back in the booth.
“I felt more expectation to actually try and say something. I felt more burden to make something that had a little more emotional effect on people. It wasn’t just about Kyle having fun anymore,” he confessed.
That sense of responsibility manifested itself in a more mature, and occasionally darker record, that goes places that his free-spirited first release didn’t touch on. The production is bigger, more varied and anthemic, while Kyle’s bars are sharper overall. Fortunately though, they’re not devoid of the sarcasm and wit that makes him so unique.
“I wanted to switch it up a lot, I wanted to be dynamic,” he explained. “There’s a lot of albums, especially ones right now, where they find a good formula like, ‘If I do this, I add these trap drums to this type of thing it’s gonna be a good song.’ And then they choose to make the same song 13 times with a slightly different topic.”
Smyle is most certainly not that type of record. Even when the tracks don’t entirely come together, you can’t help but applaud Kyle for stretching himself as an artist and not sticking to the electronic-influenced, synth-heavy sound that got him his first taste of fame.
“Even if I’m better at making a ‘Don’t Wanna Fall in Love’ than an ‘All Alright,’ I’m gonna try and do it because life is dynamic,” said the rapper.
Kyle’s gameness is one of his strongest qualities as a musician, and played a huge role in how one of Smyle’s biggest tracks came together. He first met Chance the Rapper while opening for the Chicago MC in Santa Barbara, and the two quickly became friends. It was during a late night studio session with producer Nate Fox, a member of Chance’s Social Experiment band, that single “Remember Me” came into the world.
“Nate came over to my house one time. It was one of those perfect dream type situations, where all the stars aligned. I’m sitting there working on a song with Nate and he looks up at me and says, ‘Chano’s here.’ I was like, ‘What? Really? In Skid Row at 3AM?’ And Chance was like, ‘You know what, I got something for this song…’ It wasn’t the typical, play a beat, write a verse songwriting. We really connected on the project.”
Over a bluesy, piano-powered instrumental, Chance croaks out the cigarette-stained hook, giving Kyle free rein to assess fickle relationships through the lens of his newfound fame. The candor and wit are expected at this point, but they’re used in new and exciting ways. Even though “Remember Me” is a somber record, it is a tremendous accomplishment for an MC establishing his footing.
Despite all of this, Kyle still has to deal with being branded as a “pop rapper” for his upbeat sound. While he’s not angry about it, he’s quick to make it known that that kind of shorthand simply misses the mark.
“Everybody wants to label something…but me I want to express all avenues, all the shit I was influenced by,” he said. “I have made a pop song, I’m not a pop artist. I’ve made a boom-bap song, I’m not a boom-bap rapper. I’m a rapper, singer, dancer, dude, artist, that just makes music.”
Nov. 1 @ Reggie’s Rock Club (Chicago, IL)
Nov. 3 @ The Studio at Webster Hall (New York, NY)
Nov. 5 @ Vinyl (Atlanta, GA)
Nov. 7 @ Fitzgerald’s (Houston, TX)
Nov. 10 @ The New Parish (Oakland, CA)
Nov. 28 @ The Majestic Ventura Theater (Ventura, CA)
A delightful new song from Snakehips, Tinashe and Chance The Rapper called “All My Friends” was just gifted to the world, and I’m here to confess my love to it. Every piece of it is beautiful: the production by Snakehips, the lyrics and message by Tinashe and Chance, and of course the sweet, sweet sounds of Tinashe and Chance’s voices. Give me more of these three, please.
Hit the jump to read full lyrics.
I like to think all great ideas are born from a spark of inspiration and that we all have mentors or people to thank for our accomplishments. For many of us, it might be our parents, who afforded us the opportunity to dream. For others, it might be a friend who encouraged you to do what you love. For many artists, it’s artists who came before them and crafted sounds that inspired their art.
As much as I love searching for new music, I’m a firm believer in slowing down and listening repeatedly to the music that you love the most. Have a playlist of your all-time favorites and play that on repeat (mine is always growing, it lives here*). Learn about artists from the past who might have inspired modern day sounds you love (recently I watched a documentary called 20 Feet From Stardom, definitely recommend watching that). Do some research on the artists who have inspired your favorite artists of today.
The artist I’ve loved getting to know the most during the time I’ve run Sunset is Chance the Rapper. I’ve written countless stories, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. about my love for Chance and his music. He’s a perfect example of an artist who inspires me to take a break from hunting for new music. Most Thursday mornings on my way to work I’ll turn on some hip-hop music to get myself excited for what’s arguably one of the best days of the week. It tends to be Chance I’m listening to on repeat.
In the spirit of learning more about inspiration, and because I can’t get enough of Chance, I dug a little deeper into many of the songs that Chance has sampled. I have this idea in my mind of artists and producers finding a neighborhood record store and spending a full afternoon dusting off old records, putting them on the turntables, and listening for inspiration in some classic pieces. That could or could not be how it actually happens, but no matter the method, I think it’s just as important to learn about and understand wheresounds in the songs you love come from as it is to interpret the words and stories they’ve pieced together. So I’ve put together this Spotify playlist below that features songs Chance has sampled in his portfolio of songs on 10 Day and Acid Rap. Hit the jump for a tracklist that maps the samples to Chance’s original songs.
*Note: many of my favorite songs are not on this playlist because they’re not yet available on Spotify. Almost all of Chance’s music would be on here if it could be.
31 days up, and 31 days down. Per usual, the team over at Sunset has gotten together to bring you the best new songs to be put out in August. Phenomenal list, as always!
Highlights this month:
Kygo released not one, but two random piano tracks. Chance The Rapper made an appearance this month. Skizzy Mars keeps on releasing dope remixes. Oh, he also hopped on his buddy, Allday’s “Grammy.” Oh, Be Clever flexed their muscles with their latest release, “River.” The recent out pour of Gallant’s “Weight in Gold” remixes is intimidating, but we decided to give you a standout from Sweater Beats. Sol dropped some wise knowledge on us.
Hit the jump for the Soundcloud stream and download!
Ever since the release of Surf, Chance The Rapper has kind of been like Mr. No Days Off. First, he gets based with the god himself, Lil B. Now, he gives us this gem with none other than the most-commonly-featured Noname Gypsy. Hopefully this continues since Chance never actually dropped a solo project since Acid Rap. With a baby on the way and a big tour coming up, Chance is gearing up for a hell of a finish to 2015 and early start to 2016. Sorry for not really talking about the new release, but like, it’s Chance–of course it’s dope. You don’t need me to tell you that. Lyrics after the jump!
The two MCs announced the mixtape a few weeks ago, and the Based God liberated it today via SoundCloud. Clocking in at a breezy six tracks, the project features an eclectic array of beats that serve as backdrop for bar after bar of stream-of-consciousness flow.
While a lot of rappers nowadays pass off written verses as freestyles, one spin through Free and you can tell that this truly is an off the dome project. There are moments where you can hear both rappers free associating, and there’s a certain infectious fun that comes from hearing two of the game’s biggest young MCs just get in the booth and record without any fear of failure.
The project doesn’t rival either artist’s best work, but really it isn’t supposed to, and it works much more as a testament to their love of hip-hop than an official release.
Particular standouts include the menacing “We Rare,” and the soulful opener “Last Dance,” which features a particularly clever “Acid to Bases” quip from Chance, but really this is a project that works best when you just listen straight through and bask in the rappers’ chemistry.
It’s been quite the few months for Chancelor Bennett. First he released Surf, the out of nowhere follow-up to his sensational Acid Rap mixtape, then he demolished the closing set of Pitchfork Music Festival and topped it off by announcing his Family Matters tour, which kicks off in October.
And somewhere in there, he managed to find the time to announce that he is bringing a life form into this world.
For the record, I still believe the pregnancy announcement may’ve just been a tongue-in-cheek promo for his latest set of road dates. He pulled a similar prank on the public when he announced he was “going to college…” and then kicked off a campus tour in Fall 2014.
But maybe that’s just my cynicism showing through, or concern over the fact that Chance is barely a year older than me and is on the precipice of fatherhood. For this article’s sake, let’s assume Chance is about to be a dad, and take a look at what that means in the context of his latest project.
There are moments in life when you have to drop everything you’re doing and focus on one thing. When Chance The Rapper and his music group The Social Experiment release a new project, I stop what I’m doing and pay attention.
Chance The Rapper is the most common answer I give when people ask me who my favorite artist I’ve discovered through music blogging is. It’s tough to compete with an artist like Sam Smith, who is another frontrunner, and this isn’t an apples to apples comparison because the music they make is so different, but I appreciate Chance for his ability to explore what the meaning of art is. Today’s music video is a fine example: he explores gospel, theater, and big-band jazz influences while maintaining an element of entertainment and catchiness all along (did you see those dance moves?!).
Chance’s portfolio is vast, containing deep, dark songs like “Paranoia,” nostalgic songs like “Wonderful Everyday“, depressing songs like “No Better Blues,” crowd pleasers like a cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You,” and refreshing pick-me-ups like “Everybody’s Something,” and with the latest work from Chance and The Social Experiment, it only looks to be evolving and growing into something more artful and alluring every day.
Pitchfork Music Festival drops their 2015 Lineup featuring Wilco, Chance The Rapper, and Sleater-Kinney
Pitchfork Music Festival is the latest to drop their 2015 lineup. The Chicago-based concert, which takes place in Union Park from July 17-19, will include top bills of Wilco, Chance The Rapper, and Sleater-Kinney. Other notable acts include Future Islands, CHVRCHES, Run The Jewels, The New Pornographers, Caribou, and Mac DeMarco, among others.
Single day tickets as well as three-day passes are now available over on the festival’s official website.
If you’re heading to P4k, who are you most excited to check out?
Chance The Rapper just released a new song called “No Better Blues” on his SoundCloud page. For the Kid Cudi lovers out there (I’m shouting myself out right now), this might resonate with you. It’s a heavy emotional song that tells a story about the blues, and the feeling that can come with a form of depression where you hate everything – the ordinary things, the good things, the bad things, the comfortable and uncomfortable things. There isn’t joy to be found.
I imagine there are people out there who don’t appreciate hip hop music who will press play and say they hate this song. They hate that rappers don’t have any musical talent and that they can just speak over music that they often don’t make. They could go on and on about what they hate, just as Chance has in this song. But what I’d urge them to do is go beyond the sound that they may or may not like about hip hop music and think about the storytelling that goes into this. Chance is telling a story about the blues at exactly the right time. Just over a month ago, the world was mourning the passing of Robin Williams and depression and the demons that come with it were being talked about on the news. Today, it’s a thing of the past, and we’ve moved on to the more current news. We mustn’t forget the true battle so many face with a darkness so overwhelming one can feel they hate every single thing in life — their bed, their home, their family, the sun, the rain, the clouds, the war, the charities. It’s all covered in darkness.
But there are two lines in particular in this song by Chance that stand out to me. One is repeated throughout the song as Chance sings and raps “it don’t get no better,” and one is more subtle when he says “I hate to hate.” This isn’t something people choose to feel. But unfortunately, it’s not something there’s an easy cure for either. It’s an important matter that needs to stay in the foreground, and I commend Chance for bringing it back into the conversation, so long as people can see the true meaning of the song as I’ve interpreted it.
Is Chance himself actually feeling this way? Who knows. Maybe not…after all, he talks about things in here that he doesn’t have (a twin, for example). But that’s the beauty of art: it can tell stories about meaningful topics that don’t always have to represent the 1st person’s true life. The power is the story behind it. And Chance has told an incredibly powerful story in a song that many may brush off as something they hate. But take a deeper look, and you just may see the importance of it after all.
Every year for what’s now been 10 years running, Lollapalooza has invaded the grounds of Grant Park in Chicago, IL and grips the city in an awesome and unavoidable way. In the week leading up to the festival, you can feel the metro area swelling up, as if to prepare for the oncoming chaos. And regardless of what you thought of this year’s lineup (meh), Lolla is always a party full of spectacular moments.
This year’s fest was no exception to this rule. It’s a tall task to sum up 72-hours of music, mud, and general mayhem in just 7 small yet encapsulating moments, but I did my best for everybody’s fleeting attention spans.
Here are The 7 Sweetest Moments from Lollapalooza 2014 below.
7. Portugal. The Man Covering It’s Always Sunny’s “Dayman”
Covers can be cheesy and predictable. Sure, we’ve all heard the indie band who does a rendition of an old Snoop Dog song or something and people go nuts over it. But, what about when a band dramatically covers a song from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? Awesome.
6. Toothless Gosling and Prison Mike Sinage
Festival signage usually falls within the realm of inside joke or completely and randomly awesome. These are both examples of the later.
5. Andre 3000 Bringing Girls On Stage To Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture
It’s impossible to not dance when “Hey Ya” comes on. It’s perfect. To prove this point, Andre 3000 brought some Beyonce’s and Lucy Lu’s on stage to get down to his now classic hit. I’m not complaining.
4. Grouplove Covering Beastie Boys’s “Sabotage”
Sooo, remember that thing I said about indie bands covering hip-hop songs earlier? Yeah, still awesome.
3. Malia Obama Snapping Photos With Concertgoers Like It’s No Big Deal
J chillin with Malia Obama✌️ pic.twitter.com/IuM0A88g9B
— Sarah (@cleaaaaver) August 4, 2014
The First Lady was recently spotted with her daughters at the Chicago stop of the “On The Run” tour just the other week. These gals have a pretty good taste in music, I’d say.
2. Rihanna Joining Eminem for a Rendition of “Stan”
With Em and Ri kicking off a tour in Detroit soon, many expected the duo to share the stage at some point during the legendary emcee’s Lolla set. Well, it happened and it was especially awesome that she stuck around for “Stan.”
1. Chance Bringing Out R. Kelly for “Ignition (Remix)”
Chance’s set was something of a momentous event. A hometown kid headlining Perry’s stage with a crowd that arguably rivaled next door neighbor headliners Kings of Leon and Skrillex. And then Chano brought out another Chicago legend just to put icing on the cake. Nailed it.