Photo by Jeremy D. Larson
While he didn’t nab Rookie of the Year, Chicago’s Chance the Rapper deserves a shiny gold star for his banner 2013. The 20-year-old MC parlayed the excellent Acid Rap mixtape into tours alongside Kendrick Lamar and Eminem, collaborations with Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, James Blake, and Childish Gambino, and a little love from Madonna herself. But even before his stock was on the rise, Chance displayed the innate charisma and lyrical prowess necessary to become an A-lister. For even more proof, look no further than a couple of unreleased mixtapes recently dug up on Chance’s old Facebook page (via Reddit).
Pre-dating his debut mixtape, 10 Day from last April, Good Enough and the Back To School Pack were recorded circa 2009 when Chance (then going by Chano) was part of the hip-hop duo Instrumentality alongside childhood friend J-emcee. Because of their collaborative nature and Chance’s age (being just 16 at the time), both tapes’ shared aesthetic is noticeably different from Acid Rap. Having not yet perfected his inventive, somewhat twisted delivery style, Chance instead opts for a more straight-forward flow that emphasizes vocal intensity. Additionally, the beats themselves are equally mainline hip-hop, consisting of lots of soul and funk samples and drum machines, with the occasional dalliance into more bizarre territory.
If there’s any strings of consistency, though, it’s the thoughtful lyricism. Though less developed contextually than his subsequent rhymes, Chance touches on themes of personal loss, dealing with an uncertain, ever-changing world, and perpetually developing your own personal identity. They’re the creative core that prove this kid’s been someone to watch since before most of us knew he ever existed.
For more vintage Chance, check out a 2011 performance at the YOUmedia Lyricist Loft, an open mic event held at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. According to references made in Acid Rap‘s title track, it’s during one of these gigs where Chance was discovered.