Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper doesn't hide his influences, or his ambitions. His rhyme flow at times baldly resembles Lil Wayne's or, at other times, Eminem's; his mainstream-but-iconoclastic posture draws inspiration from Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. But on his wildly anticipated, unshakably confident second mixtape, the Chicagoan speaks in his own distinctive and eccentric voice. It’s a voice that shifts, with jolt, between fleet rapping and rap-singing. (In "Juice," his raggedly raspy croon recalls Billie Holiday.) As the album title suggests, the beats, though solidly hooky, have a woozy, psychedelic feel. But it’s the density of wit, ideas, and verbal invention that makes this one of the year’s defining hip-hop releases, whether Chance is rapping about God’s cell phone battery, racial politics, or merely unleashing thick clusters of rhymes: "Chance, acid rapper, soccer, hacky sacker/Cocky khaki jacket jacker."
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