“Should we just jump straight into it and turn up?” Chance asked the crowd, bouncing onto the stage to the soulful, juked-out beat of “Angels,” from his latest and critically acclaimed mixtape, Coloring Book. Proudly rocking his signature “3” snapback, the rapper brought along Donnie Trumpet (on trumpet), Greg Landfair Jr. (on drums) and Peter Cottontale (on keys) of the Social Experiment band to bring his visionary sound to life.
Throughout the 90-minute show, Chance journeyed the audience through his rise from hopeful open mic MC to game changing rapper with his catalog compact but impactful three-mixtape catalog. Songs like “Brain Cells,” from his inaugural 10 Days, and “Pusha Man/Paranoia,” “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and Smoke Again,” from 2013’s Acid Rap, induced nostalgia and excitement for those that have been rooting for his independent grind since day one. Flexing his wondrous feature appearances, he delivered his drowsy bedroom R&B flow on Kehlani’s “The Way” and shameless rhymes on Action Bronson’s “Baby Blue.”
Chance also offered up his best showmanship as a leader of the new school of rap, rattling off every track from his latest release, Coloring Book, which solidified his star status, debuting at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and being the first release to hit the chart solely on streams.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Chance (and his live performance) is the fact that he’s not your average rapper. A holy trifecta, he makes his own blueprint and spreads the message in an endearing way and doesn’t shy away from delivering spiritual mementos to soothe the soul (remember, he’s not afraid to “speak to God in public.”).
Just months earlier, the same venue was veiled in a thick cloud of weed smoke and gin-stained breath as Gucci Mane made his hotly anticipated homecoming. But no vices or surprise performances (many were wondering if 2 Chainz would show for “No Problems”) were needed Saturday as Chance emitted a natural high with his inspiring jams that are all grounded in a message that transcends rap, resonating with the varying audience of all ages and backgrounds.
The night’s best moments came in his most heavy-handed gospel influenced joints that have certainly assisted in him carving his own lane in hip-hop’s trapped out vibe. Although Kanye West’s brainchild, Chance’s spotlight-stealing appearance filled the theater with faith.
“I was sent here to drop off a message,” he said while performing “Blessings (Reprise).” Immediately bringing folks to their feet, swaying their hands and bobbing their heads to the divine sounds of his sermon-like wordplay and comforting church chords, he asked the crowd, “Are you ready for your blessing?” several times in his warbled tone. “Did you know that your blessing is not made of flesh, but it’s coming?” he warned, soon after joking that he’d “officially made a preachy f---ing show.”
But that’s the beauty of Chance the Rapper, combining powerful music with a real message. And apparently Chicago isn’t the only city doing front flips for him, as the Atlanta crowd roared and applauded his presence just hours shy of the Lord’s Day, good ol’ Sunday.