The Save Money crew is currently dominating the rap game. Between Chance’s massively popular third mixtape, Vic Mensa’s There’s Alot Going On, and Joey Purp’s breakout tape iiiDrops, the Chicago collective has certainly been in the minds (and rotations) of hip hop heads everywhere. I thought this might be a good time to recall the finer moments of the man who started it all, mister Chancelor Bennett himself. Though I do think he’s got a penchant for inconsistent full length projects, one thing I will never contest is Chance’s sheering rapping ability. He spits like few others do, and this has led to some very memorable features; so we’re taking a look back at the very best of them.
“Ultra Light Beam” – Kanye West
We might as well get this one out of the way. Yes, this is an incredible verse. It’s memorable, hilarious, heart warming, and everything in-between. But beyond all those things, the verse holds a special place in the context of The Life of Pablo. Many call this the best song on the album exclusively because of this verse. It opens the record on such an indisputably high note that its energy carries on and propels the next few tracks forward ( even though it can’t save them all.) Chance lifts this song up on his shoulders, thrusting it victoriously forward, taking the rest of the album with it, in at least some sense.
“Suitcase” – Vic Mensa
Vic and Chance have been collaborating since day one. They’re easily the most widely known Save Money artists, and they’re also great friends. They’ve linked up a few times on record, and though I’m partial to “Tweakin,” I simply can’t ignore the virtuosity Chance displays on “Suitcase.” The verse is deceptively layered; his delivery is kind of quirky and funny, though the actual story depicts a father abandoning his family. Despite the visual lyricism, what really clinches this track for me is his rhyme schemes. “Kiss the kids and kick the dogs, fix the dinner, fix the faucet,” he quips, using the same syllabic sound 6 times in one line, and using “fix” in two different but equally topical contexts. This is the kind of wordplay that initially turned so many, including myself, on to Chance.
“Life Round Here” – James Blake
I’ve gotta say, without hearing the song, this would have seemed like a counterintuitive collaboration to me. I often think of James Blake as a bleak, introspective RnB crooner; on the other hand, I think of Chance as an uplifting hip hop minister with boundless energy. You might see how these two descriptions would have little crossover, however, this “Life Round Here” remix proved me so very wrong. Chance’s dynamics, an aspect of music not often associated with rap, are the defining factor of this verse. Over the brooding synth lead he offers jabs, quick one-offs and light melodies. As the line distorts, the words are strung together and sped up, until the the drums erupt over the track. Chance’s lines cascade into one another in a mesmerizing show of delivery and attention to detail. The remix showcases his verse as its centerpiece, and though vastly different from the original, is equally entertaining.
“Child’s Play” – SZA
One very easily identifiable aspect of Chance’s music is his voice. It’s a detractor for some, but for others, it’s so unique that sometimes he doesn’t need an actual verse to add musicality. On “Child’s Play,” his voice fits so unexpectedly well that it might startle you. For the first minute and a half of the song, TDE songstress SZA croons over a chilled out xxyyxx beat. It’s pleasant, albeit a bit low energy. Then, like a Jimi Hendrix solo at a Sleep concert, Chance wakes everyone up. He comes in with this tumbling, staggered flow, filled with pauses and repetition. Fifteen seconds ago you may have been nodding off, but now your head is spinning. It’s the kind of verse you’ve got to rewind the track for, just to catch those moments when he rhymes “vinyl” with “albino,” or imitates a pirate. The rest of the song sounds like filler in comparison.
“Heaven Only Knows” – Towkio
I felt it appropriate to close this list with such a triumphant, euphoric song. The vibe is owed to the futuristic production of Lido and a hooky melody from Towkio. However, once the song kicks into double time and the keyboard swells amp up, Chance propels this song way over the top. He matches the energy of the beat, then doubles it. He fires off rhymes in quick succession, not hesitating for even an instant. By the time we hit the last chorus, he’s just ad-libbing and fucking around; but then again, it feels like maybe he’s been doing that the whole time. In the outro, he says the song is so good that “I’m actually just glad you let me rap on that bitch.” We’re glad, too.
Written by Preston Fulks