After much speculation, Chance the Rapper released his self-proclaimed “debut album,” “The Big Day,” early on the morning of July 26. With a wide three year gap between his last mix-tape, “Coloring Book,” and his most recent release, Chance fans were ecstatic to finally hear about some new content.
Consisting of 19 songs and three skits, “The Big Day” is technically Chance’s first album despite “Coloring Book” winning rap album of the year in 2016; this most recent release has been marketed as Chance the Rapper’s debut album since it was first announced.
“The Big Day” carries themes that have been touched upon in several of Chance’s previous mixtapes. With a healthy mix of heavy and light tones and thoughtful lyrics, the goal of the album is to take the listener on a coming-of-age journey as he shares his views on marriage, success and his impending fatherhood.
Unfortunately, while some of his followers were all in on supporting the album, others were more than a little disappointed with its quality. Despite the album featuring big names like John Legend, Nicki Minaj and Shawn Mendes, many have been surprised by the independent rapper’s lackluster release. After multiple years of giddy anticipation for the record, critics think that “perhaps partly due to the hype, it ultimately feels lacking.”
Even the more popular songs on the album, such as “All Day Long,” “Do You Remember,” “Hot Shower” and “Handsome,” have received remarkably mixed reviews. While some wholeheartedly disagree with these negative reviews, one must wonder whether the critics are just hating, or if they make a solid point. Has Chance the Rapper lost his edge as an independent artist?
“The Big Day” starts off on the right track as “All Day Long” steals the hearts of music critics around the globe. The first song of the album comes in at only 5.9 million listens on Spotify, shockingly coming in as the third most popular track, while critics consider it the highest ranked out of every song on Chance’s latest release.
Featuring John Legend, “All Day Long” functions as the “lights dimming in the theatre right before the show starts.” Setting the tone with his signature phrase, “and we back,” Chance is quick to captivate and excite his listeners.
“Do You Remember” is the second track on “The Big Day,” with only a little over half of the number of listens as “Hot Shower.” The main attraction of the song stems from its ethereal sound, thoughtful lyrics and the feature of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.
Critics have come to the consensus that “Do You Remember” is one of the more put-together tracks on the album. The song can be described as “a lighter, simpler take on his youth in the Windy City, and Chance, as per usual, shines on a bouncier beat.” Chance uses “Do You Remember” as an opportunity to reflect on his early life while navigating his adulthood, a theme that has clearly resonated with his audience.
“Hot Shower” is the fan favorite of the album with over 11.6 million listens on Spotify. Marketed as a radio hit, “Hot Shower” has since become a satirical take of everything a summer anthem is meant to be. Smattered with blatantly nostalgic tones and overly simplistic lyrics, the fourth track on “The Big Day” has successfully cemented itself in the minds of Chance’s fans.
Despite its catchiness and the song’s success with the average listener, critics have gone as far as naming “Hot Shower” the weakest song on the album. Josh Glicksman of Billboard Magazine admits that while Chance’s ability to “[try] on a lot of different hats” is admirable, “unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite fit.”
Both critics and fans agree that Dababy, who is featured in “Hot Shower,” is the strongest component of the track. Lucky enough to have the hardest hitting verse of the song, Dababy might shine even brighter than Chance at this point in the album.
Even so, both Dababy and Chance have been dragged for the two-dimensional themes in their verses. The majority of the track concerns Chance’s success and self-indulgence, while the rest is an almost boastful showing of both Dababy’s and MadeinTYO’s wealth.
Coming in at 5.6 million listens, “Handsome” is the fourth most popular song on “The Big Day.” The track features Texas native Megan Thee Stallion, who has since announced her plans to release a collab with Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign.
Falling halfway through “The Big Day” as the 11th song in the album, “Handsome” offers its listeners a saucy detour with passionate lyrics and a message of self-love. Chance the Rapper dedicated parts of the track to his wife, whom the artist used as inspiration for a large chunk of the album.
Billboard praises Megan Thee Stallion’s feature in “Handsome,” declaring, “Hot Girl Summer continues as the Houston-born rapper elevates the album’s halfway mark to another level with her 16 bars.” On the flip side, they don’t have much to say about Chance at all.
It is blatantly obvious that critics have not held back when it comes to roasting the independent artist. Variety goes as far as to deem “The Big Day” “pieces of contemplation [that] stand alongside an uneven mixture of blithe, if uninspired, tracks made for TikTok videos.”
Even with all the bad press, the album is far from a failure. While several tracks might have repetitive themes or lackluster lyrics, all in all, the album is satisfactory to the average listener. “Hot Shower” and “Handsome” and their up-and-coming remixes are quickly becoming resident tracks in clubs across the country.
Variety has no choice to concede this in their review; Brandon Yu is sure to give credit where it’s due, commenting, “Chance’s mixture of reflection and fun is translated in his reliably impressive wordplay and flows.”
Overall, while Chance the Rapper’s latest release is a good album, it is not a great album. But don’t sleep on “The Big Day” just yet: Depending on your taste, it may be worth the listen.