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Cancelling Chance the Rapper: Can We Give the Guy a Break?

Chance’s disappointing debut album and recent immature behavior has critics and fans wondering if he's the same prodigious musician he used to be. Will he fall from grace, or can he bounce back?
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The higher you fly, the further you have to fall. That is certainly the case with Chance the Rapper, whose career has taken a massive downturn thanks to poor business decisions, egotistical thinking, and immature reactions to criticism on public platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

But most importantly, Chance’s lackluster debut album The Big Day paled in comparison to the groundbreaking mixtapes that launched his career and earned him three Grammy Awards. Will he be able to bounce back?

The Big Day Was a Disaster

I’m no music connoisseur, and I’d consider myself a casual listener of Chance the Rapper. I recall the release of The Big Day in the summer of 2019 – I gave it a quick listen, but found zero songs interesting enough to add to my library.

I didn’t think much of it, considering my tastes are not based in extensive knowledge of music history or Chance as an artist.

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Album Cover of The Big Day / Sara Shakeel

But I did notice that I hadn’t heard much about the 27-year-old rapper in a while, leading me down a rabbit hole of critiques on Chance’s “downfall” that has recently been highlighted by the firing of his long-time manager, Pat Corcoran, and Corcoran’s subsequent suing of the rapper.

It doesn’t take much reading to realize Chance definitely screwed over his manager in favor of his father and brother’s ideas, which didn’t pan out well at all when it came to the release of The Big Day.

But aside from that more personal controversy, I’ve been fascinated by the critical reception to The Big Day from listeners across the country who have helped me understand why Chance is coming under relentless fire for his recent behavior.

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Chance with his wife and daughter / Shutterstock

“Generally, I think [Chance] is one of the more stand-out, exciting and one-of-a-kind rappers in the current field,” says Anthony Fantano, a YouTube music critic followed by about 2.32 million subscribers.

“The way he fuses elements of hip-hop and jazz and soul and gospel is pretty cool when he’s doing it on a quality track. Generally, the man’s verses are pretty poetic; his pen game is good…So going into this, I had no reason to expect anything other than just a quality album. But…that is not what we got.”

The Needle Drop’s sentiments have been echoed by several other online critics.

“On The Big Day, there isn’t really anything tying the project together by way of any specific sound, or lyrics consistent enough that they would tie the songs together that well,” adds Shawn Cee, another critic, in his 11-minute critique of the piece.

“The album feels like a preparation of a life to come, more than any kind of detailed perspective of the transitions between a young, single man to successful family man…I’m happy that Chance the Rapper is happy in his current situation, but the guy got married in March [of 2020], and he’s already putting out a marriage review.”

The overall reception of The Big Day from critics and fans alike can pretty much be summed up as such: The album is a boring, thrown-together, and perhaps ingenuously optimistic love letter to Chance’s wife.

Even Pat Corcoran, Chance’s now-fired manager, has said in court documents that he knew The Big Day was going to flop as embarrassingly as it did. Apparently, Chance ignored Corcoran’s pleas to be more business-savvy with the album’s release and more thoughtful during the production process.

It seems that was a pretty bad decision on Chance’s part – the ticket sales for his upcoming tour were so bad, he had to cancel it.

Can Chance the Rapper Bounce Back?

Hear me out: I don’t think Chance is in the right here. It seems he’s clearly treating his formerly close friend and manager with the utmost disrespect. He does seem immature in many ways, and perhaps because he blew up so quickly in the last decade, we expected much more of him. But must we declare the end of his career?

It is certainly Chance’s responsibility to turn this around. He has to prove himself again as the talented, creative thinker who exploded on the scene when Acid Rap dropped to critical acclaim in 2013.

But let’s also consider the fact that Chance is only 27 years old. From this perspective, maybe we can look at The Big Day and the drama surrounding it not as a failure that will stain his legacy forever, but as a stumble in Chance’s journey to becoming a more self-actualized artist.

Chance’s rude behavior is stoking the flames of the criticism, but rather than seeing his lame album and recent antics as the whole of who he is now, maybe we can look at it with a little more hope.

The man just got married, rushed into writing and releasing an album about the glory that is his wife, fired his manager, and started sending shots instead of remaining humble. Maybe the album was so bad because Chance – despite his insistence that his life is perfect now that he’s found the love of his life in his wife and God – is going through some serious emotional issues.

The Rapper and The Biebs

Again, Chance is 27 years old. Just because he’s a celebrated artist doesn’t mean he’s immune to going through changes that are often not so pretty. He’s young, and he rose to fame at such an early age that the layman cannot even imagine what pressures have affected his ego.

Which brings me to another artist who recently linked up with Chance ­– Justin Bieber. Remember when he went through his wild phase? He got arrested, acted wildly disrespectful in a now-infamous video from a legal deposition, and reportedly put then-girlfriend Selena Gomez through relationship hell.

Well, Bieber grew up. He’s different now, and he’s addressed his past issues in his subsequent music with honest vulnerability. If Chance does the same, I think he can rediscover his artistic voice that made him so popular in the first place.

Confession: Chance the Rapper’s verse on Bieber’s recent hit single “Holy” has me dancing in the car and singing at the top of my lungs almost every day. His quirky flow and shifts between singing and rapping fit so well with the song’s pop-gospel beat, and as a lover of wordplay, I can’t get enough of Chance’s rhymes like,

“I’m a believer, my heart is fleshy / Life is short with a temper, like Joe Pesci / They always come and sing your praises, your name is catchy / But they don’t see you how I see you, Parlay and Desi.”

While I’m almost certain actual musical critics would likely find the recent verse no different nor any less cheesy than Chance’s “all about God” lyrics on The Big Day, I think it’s tons of fun.

The feature proves he’s still pretty talented with his lyricism and his flow, and maybe he just needs a break before moving onto his next project, which will hopefully smash the expectations we once held for him.

The Big Day might have been a big flop, but so are many emotional decisions that people in their twenties (and thirties, and forties, and fifties) make. With a little self-awareness and maybe a dash of humility, I think Chance can come back stronger as an artist than he ever was before.