Chance the Rapper Joined by D.R.A.M., Ja Rule and More in NYC, Jay Z and Beyonce in Attendance: Live Review

Chance the Rapper knows how to put on a good show, and if you give him an hour and a half, he just might prove it. Joined by opening acts Metro Boomin, D.R.A.M., Towkio and Hiatus Kaiyote, the Chicago native brought true meaning to his Family Matters tour at Friday night’s (Oct. 23) show at New York's Terminal 5.

D.R.A.M., fresh off his Gahdamn! EP release, stepped on the stage at 8:30 with feverish excitement. The singer, known for his big presence and even bigger smile, treated the crowd with new tracks like "$" and "Caretaker," and, duh, newish oldies like the crowd favorite "Cha Cha." Naturally, the whole house was moving right along with D.R.A.M. and his exuberant persona. Bringing out special guest A$AP Ferg, a New York native, he kicked the night off right by showing the city just how hard the family throws down. 

Come 10:30, it was time for the guest of honor to take his turn at the mic. A boisterous performer, Chance the Rapper and his four-piece band the Social Experiment, took a successfully scattered approach in curating the set list and visual cues that accompanied. From Acid Rap to Surf to Kehlani’s beloved “The Way” and BJ the Chicago Kid’s “Church,” he showcased his vast discography with an enviably persistent energy. 

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Three songs in, Chance stopped for an endearing introduction: “Hi, my name is Chance the Rapper. I’m here from Illinois, and I’m here to play you some songs off my mixtape.”

Saying a lot with a little, he pointed back to the project that landed him on the map just two years ago. Acid Rap, lucky for us, is a chapter still open for Chance. With songs like “Pusha Man” and “Everybody’s Something,” he captured the crowd with a glimpse of nostalgia.

Accompanied by the Social Experiment, he shined when performing songs from this year’s Surf. Tracks like “Familiar,” “Miracle,” and “Sunday Candy” convey the band’s focus not only on live instrumentation but camaraderie. Chance, who chose not to have his name featured on Surf, blended into the production, allowing the audience to indulge in blazing trumpet solos from Donnie Trumpet while he stepped back from center stage. 

With or without the spotlight on him, Chance, a natural performer, made sure every song was as spellbinding as the next. With the help of visuals ranging from burning joints to coliseum pillars, each track turned down a new lane. Every few songs, he stopped to chat with the audience, expressing his love for New York and its constant party, shouting out to the crowd’s Chicagoans, and getting personal (“I’m a family man now”). 

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Throughout, Chance took over the stage from all degrees of artistry, proving that he won’t, not even for a second, let your attention stray -- even if it means bringing Ja Rule to the stage. Believe it or not, the “Always on Time” rapper did, in fact, appear (although, sadly, Ashanti did not). Equal parts random and surprisingly awesome, Chance took nostalgia to the next level by performing “New York” (of course) and “Livin’ It Up” with the New York native whose sensitive thug appeal had a mostly millennial (and fairly bro-y) crowd off their feet. 

Come 11:30 p.m., Chance started to wind down the show with tracks of the same dance-laden nature like his encore, "Chainsmoker." When the night was through and the crowd began to file out, a streaming downpour of yellow confetti covered an audience reluctant to say goodbye. Later in the evening, it came to my attention that part of that audience was Jay Z and Beyonce, tucked away in the crowd enjoying Chance the Rapper like the rest of us. 

Global superstar, billion-dollar-making power couples or not, Chance and his showmanship have an undeniable charm suited for all. 

Chance the Rapper - Friday, Oct. 23 / Terminal 5 / New York Album Review


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