Chance The Rapper & Nosaj Thing - Paranoia (Songs From Scratch, 2013)
The hype machine behind Chance The Rapper is pretty incredible. A lot of people have credited it as an organic rise from the bottom, and I certainly don’t doubt this. But can I ask exactly where it was that everyone hopped aboard the Chance bandwagon? A year ago, his blog presence was minimal at best thanks to “Juke Juke,” a great song which actually utilized one of the most cliche samples in hip-hop to great effect. “Juice” was a pretty incredible single and benefitted greatly from the Keef and Trel name-drops, which let a more street-oriented fanbase know Chance was with the shits. Acid Rap was eagerly anticipated by those who were touched by the single, but the sheer amount of press that this tape has gotten greatly exceeds any of the subsequent leaks that mostly flew under the radar with the exception of some hardcore fans.
I ask these questions, but I really do like Acid Rap. I’m not in love with it, but it certainly is the beginning of a very prosperous career. The production is very lush, and the somewhat muted music contrasts well with Chance’s over-animated flow. But of all the songs present on Acid Rap, “Paranoia” - a hidden song that follows “Pusha Man” which would be released as a single for Songs from Scratch a mere couple days later - is the crown jewel of this mixtape.
Over a very minimalist beat provided courtesy of Nosaj Thing, Chance encapsulates Kendrick Lamar’s entire good kid, m.a.a.d city into one song. Chance is clearly caught between worlds, a survivalist instinct implanted in a kid who just wants to see the sun, but can’t because of the harsh reality he’s faced with. Dead children are mourned over, but also accepted as just another casualty in a city with no soul. Chance mentions some residents who had just moved there, and claims they won’t be there for long. Is he condemning them for this? Or does he envy them? Everyone dies in the summer, so Chance prays to God for a little more spring. But he realizes the summer is inevitable.