In 2013, Chicago hip hop artist Chance the Rapper released his second mixtape Acid Rap. The project was released for free by Chance, who has to this date never sold his music. It won all sorts of end of year awards and nominations, and it was the mixtape that really pushed Chance into stardom before his eventual Grammy wins for his 2016 mixtape Coloring Book.
A great thing about Chicago rap is the love they have for each other, Chance managed to get near enough every feature on this mixtape from Chicago and it made for some fun features you wouldn’t get on major label albums. The entire mixtape explores multiple themes, mainly drug use, Chicago and love.
Early on in the album you’ll find one of the best tracks, one of the best on Chance’s entire discography, Paranoia. It’s a secret track that can be found after a break in Pusha Man. Chance has mastered the art of rapping over this kind of slow, deep beat. The lyrics are intense for those who live in Chicago, as the song discusses gun crime in the area and how many deaths there are.
There’s a switch up soon after with Cocoa Butter Kisses, a track that was initially created when Chance and Vic were high on mushrooms. After a high writing session we got these crazy lyrics, the beat and fine tuning came later on.
Later on comes one of Chance’s very best pieces ever, Lost, featuring Noname. Noname does an incredible job on what is a well produced classic, it essentially put her towards the top of female rap, somewhere she has on excelled from since. The entire album talks about the use of drugs, perhaps here Chance was saying love was as powerful as the other drugs mentioned. Another quality feature we got from this classic mixtape was a Childish Gambino verse on Favorite Song, a fun track from two men who have often teased a collab album.
Maybe the finest part of this mixtape comes towards the end, track 11, Acid Rain. It’s Chance’s best song for me, no question about it. The minimalist yet slick production of the track was soothing, as Chance raps about various topics, including acid trips, toxic relationships, youth and death. It’s a deep track with some absolutely sublime wordplay, making for one of the best rap songs of this decade.
The production of this album is quality all the way through, but it’s really Chance’s unique voice, flow and lyricism that make it what it is. I will argue time and again that this is the best rap mixtape of all time, one that I can’t see being topped any time soon.