Music is one of those few things can define a generation; Great music, in particular, has the ability to transcend many more.
One of us is a 23-year-old post-University graduate nomad still trying to make sense of adult life, and one of us is a 17-year-old suburban kid in his last year of high-school. As 2 young creatives from thousands of miles apart, and from very different ages, today we look back at one of the most iconic projects of both of our generations.
5 Years of Acid Rap: A Look Back with Cam & Hosp
“Five. Damn. Years. And I got to show for it…. is millions of fans, a couple number 1 hits, and 3 Grammys” is probably how a 2018 remix of “Pusha Man” might begin, if Chance the Rapper had time to take it on. It’s hard to believe that Chicago emcee’s sophomore mixtape was released five years ago today, on April 30th, 2013. Acid Rap was a fan-favorite from the moment it dropped (if you knew, you knew), and many would have no problem arguing that it rightfully hurled Chance the Rapper into the spotlight. At only 20-years-old, the artist became quickly everyone’s favorite internet commodity.
The mixtape released as a digital download and was met with such an excessive demand that platforms such as AudioMack and Fake Shore Drive crashed. For many, Acid Rap was their introduction to the chain-smoking, name-dropping, good-looking (and occasional Frank Ocean listening) genius known as Chance the Rapper. With an inception as inspiring and unique as the outcome, the revolutionary project was released without the help of a major label. As a young Chicago rapper surrounded by colleagues that include Kanye West, Chief Keef, and Lupe Fiasco, Chancelor Bennett established a name for himself.
Five years later, Chance is a mainstream hip-hop artist with another acclaimed mixtape AND a few Grammys under his belt. Today, two hip-hop heads (and major Chance stans) reflect on the project, along with a few questions. Let’s get it… *‘gods plan’ starts playing* *Drake doesn’t enter the room, instead, Cam Hache & Hospey do*
Introductions; a snapshot of our Chance fandom
Negele (Hospey): My friends used to go to Sasquatch Festival every single year. About 1 year after Acid Rap dropped (my fandom already damn-near maxed out at this point), Chance took the stage, and there I was, 2nd row – with ALL my friends that I had forcefully dragged with me. I was in 2nd-year university at the time. It was my music first festival and probably one of my first 10 concerts ever – and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
4 years later, I’ve seen Chance a couple more times… 40+ if we’re being exact. And, I worked for him. And toured with him for 2 months. Shit, I have his cell phone number in my phone. Superfan status achieved?
Cameron: My cousin Jer was one of those people who had been stanning Chance since 10Day dropped. I’ve always taken music cues from him and so the obsession with Chance peaked my curiosity. Once he played me Acid Rap about a year after release, I became an instant fan. I had the opportunity to see Chance for the first time last May for his Be Encouraged Tour in Toronto. Although the show got cut early due to rain (after being rescheduled, also due to rain), it was one of my favorite concerts. His stage presence captivated me and it was clear how much emphasis was placed on delivering a good show to everyone that came out. I’ve bought his merchandise, annoyed friends with constant tweet-sending and discussion, even turned my mom into a fan and look at him as a major inspiration.
Would you consider this mixtape as an addition to the list of “modern classics”?
N: Well, my standard of classics is probably jaded in the eyes of many – but I would say in the 2010+ era, Acid Rap would have to be considered a classic. If not as an album (because technically it isn’t), certainly as a mixtape. Even those “know the difference between ‘favourite’ and ‘best'” headasses have to agree.
C: I think a classic project has to be unique, have significant cultural impact and be able to stand the test of time. Although Acid Rap technically isn’t an album, I would say it matches each of these criteria with ease. It was unique, a sound STILL unmatched to this day and broke ground as a mainstream mixtape released by an independent artist. Five years later and I’m still constantly bumping tracks with the same enthusiasm, which has to mean something. Also, sonically it’s fucking incredible. So that’s a bonus.
Acid Rap is a project with depth, packed with ridiculously enjoyable songs and profound introspective efforts. If you had to choose just one, which song is your favorite?
N: Just one? Damn, that’s just mean. If I’m being FORCED into picking just one, I’d take “Acid Rain” over anything. The emotion of the bars on that track are way too raw, and when I finally got to see performed live for the first time (coincidentally, this time last year on the 4 year anniversary), it confirmed my feelings for this track. I think “Spineless bitches in backless dresses” is still the hardest line I’ve ever heard in my life.
(A very close second would have to be “Lost”)
“The richest man rocks the snatchless necklace,
Spineless bitches in backless dresses…”
C: Although this ended up being way harder to answer than I originally imagined, my favorite song on the tape has to be “Chain Smoker”. Close second is a tie of about 8 other songs. For some reason, above all, I always come back to this cut. “Chain Smoker” resides as the pre-outro track on the tape and is structured as Chance’s swan song – like if he died after Acid Rap this would’ve been the shit we remembered him for. I still get goosebumps every single time I hear the bridge. “Chain Smoker” is simply Chance the Rapper at his finest and embodies both his personality and the good-feeling vibe that transcends from his music.
Unfortunately, it’s off of his set-list nowadays, but the fact is I would pay way too much money just to see it performed live (side note: seriously Chano please put this back on).
“Last chance joint gotta be a dance joint,
From an introspective drugged out standpoint,
Throw bands joint, wanna hold hands joint,
Old school for my own old man joint…”
Acid Rap compiles a stellar feature count, including Childish Gambino, Vic Mensa, Noname, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul and many more. Which guest feature on the mixtape is your favorite?
N: IS THIS EVEN A QUESTION? NONAME. NONAME. NONAME. Next question.
C: My favorite verse is Vic’s on “Cocoa Butter Kisses”. His flow is too nice featuring some great one-liners and I’m not gonna lie, I think I break my neck every time I hear it. The song, about losing one’s innocence, really seems to resonate with Vic especially after learning more about his upbringing with Chance. If that wasn’t enough, his bridge and chorus just before Chance swoops in is a highlight on its own.
What significant impact did this project have on you and your friends at the time?
N: At the actual time of Acid Rap this project had no effect. I lived in polar-Canada and was hardly the internet nerd that I am now. Thanks to Twitter though, I found out about Chance a couple weeks after the project dropped. I don’t really know what it was that drew me in so quickly, but as the Twitter receipts will show, I was stanning almost instantly; My first 100-favorite tweet was a Chance RT in the summer of 2013. It took a while for me to convert all of my friends, but slowly and surely I got them on board. Some of my best memories with some of my best friends were spent over this album.
Everybody’s somebody’s everything
— Hosp the Plug 🔌 (@Hospey) July 30, 2013
C: Just like Hosp, there was really no immediate impact. I was just wrapping up Grade 8, far less knowledgeable, or interested for that matter, about music. It took about a year for me to listen to it but when I first heard Acid Rap I was hooked. Chance the Rapper was one of those artists that really revolutionized my music taste and my friends and I all transitioned into massive fans. I think what’s really dope is how each song on the tape means different things for different people. To me it was a literal soundtrack for my essential “coming of age” and with a still-lasting effect. I was adjusting to high-school at the time as a shy, awkward and most of all unconfident kid. Chano made me feel more comfortable to be myself.
What about Chance’s music, specifically within Acid Rap is important to you?
N: As I mentioned before, I think its the emotion. Not only could you tell that this dude cared so much for his city and his family and his friends, you could tell how important materializing his vision from start to finish really was. It’s just something you can feel when you listen.
“Eyes closed, eyes closed, seeing arenas…”
C: It’s clear to see that Chance takes creative risks. Acid Rap was not a safe project by any means but he killed it. Youthful and playful, featuring themes of compelling lyricism and colorful storytelling all while thought-provoking at the same time. Just playing the mixtape has the ability to transport me into a different setting and mood. There’s a genuine connection to him and how he thinks and I guess that’s why I enjoy his music so much. I feel energetic yet calm when I listen to it, if that even makes sense.
Music has an uncanny ability to attach itself to our memories. Looking back, what experiences come to mind when you listen to the project nowadays?
N: Sasquatch 2014 – seeing Chance for the first time with all of my friends around me, screaming at the top of our lungs for “Chain Smoker” as an encore – then screaming even louder when they actually played it. Squamish 2015 – meeting the SoX for the first time, before rushing to see them perform for the 2nd time. Summer 2016 – Finally getting the boys to bump tape, and listening to “Good Ass Intro” every time we got into the car. Sydney 2017 – listening to “Lost” every single night at Sunset.
Damn, I think I want Chance & the SoX to play “That’s Love” at my wedding…
C: Each song has kinda attached itself to different memories, especially during the summer. Road trips from Bluesfest in Ottawa to my cottage with my previously-mentioned cousin listening to the project from front-to-back. Listening to “Favourite Song” at house parties or dissecting “Paranoia” with friends at 2 in the morning (not at all intoxicated). “Good Ass Intro” in the car before work every summer morning to start the day off right. Last year when I had a damn-near heart attack when the opening “na na na na naaa” of “Cocoa Butter Kisses” shook Toronto. Not to forget the middle-aged couple besides me contemplating whether I was insane or not.
“Rap just made me anxious, and acid made me crazy…”