In a monumental moment for the Australian music industry, SXSW comes to the country for the very first time this year.
From October 15th-22nd, SXSW Sydney will transform the city, bringing the best in music, gaming, tech, and innovation to Australians.
One of the highlights of the SXSW Sydney program is undoubtedly the presence of Chance the Rapper as a guest speaker, a huge statement. The Chicago rapper has dropped several critically acclaimed projects and collaborated with some of hip hop and music’s biggest names, so there will certainly be a lot for him to discuss when he’s interviewed by Rolling Stone AU/NZ Editor-in-Chief Poppy Reid this month.
Chance is heading to the inaugural festival to celebrate 50 years of hip hop, reflecting on its monumental impact on both his beloved Chicago South Side and a global fanbase.
“Hip hop has provided a rhythm to our stories and a canvas for our creativity. I’m really looking forward to joining SXSW Sydney as a speaker to expound upon hip hop’s transcendent legacy,” he says.
But what about the music of Chance the Rapper himself?
2019’s The Big Day wasn’t received with widespread appreciation, but it didn’t smear the legacy that his second mixtape, Acid Rap, left, as well as his third mixtape, Coloring Book, in 2016.
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His upcoming SXSW Sydney appearance will be a full circle moment for Chance, as the cover art for Acid Rap (which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year), was taken at SXSW in 2013.
While a lot of Chance’s best moments so far have been on Acid Rap, Coloring Book was just as strong, thrusting him into a new realm of fame and success. When it dropped, suddenly Chance’s face was everywhere: from clothing brands to big festival performances to talk show couches.
One year after its release, he reached the biggest stage of them all: the Grammys. Chance earned seven nominations, winning three, and became the first solo male rap act to ever win Best New Artist at the awards.
To celebrate his impending SXSW Sydney appearance, Tone Deaf decided to rank the eight best songs of Chance the Rapper. And before you come for us, remember this is all subjective!
8. “Juke Jam” (ft. Justin Bieber, Towkio)
Coloring Book was star-studded, and this was easily one of the biggest songs from the mixtape. Chance showed he could shine in any lane, from rap to R&B to pop. “Juke Jam” is one of his most unanimously loved songs to date for a reason.
7. “Smoke Break” (ft. Future)
On a track that shows Young Thug and Future’s extreme influence over the current sound of hip hop, Chance does something special on “Smoke Break”. His crooning, harmonic cadence is the ultimate vibe setter, not to mention Hendrix’s immaculate influence. He never misses.
6. “Angels” (ft. Saba)
Paired with a memorable music video that saw Chance celebrate his hometown Chicago, “Angels” features a top tier rapping performance by Chance. Continuing the jazz influence from Acid Rap throughout Coloring Book, his ear for instrumentation is on point on this track.
5. “Blessings” (ft. Ty Dolla $ign, Anderson .Paak, BJ the Chicago Kid, Raury)
Whether it’s inclusion on this list surprises you or not, “Blessings” is incredible. For Chance to enlist this lineup on just one track and for it to sound so immaculate deserves plaudits.
You had to be there for this one. At the time, Childish Gambino was one of the most interesting emerging artists, and Acid Rap was released not long before Gambino’s acclaimed album, Because the Internet. They have a reinvigorating chemistry together on this track – it’s definitely a fan favourite.
You could certainly argue that “Juice” is Chance’s best song. The video is iconic, and it sounds very different from anything you hear today (or at the time). He stamps his presence and rapping ability all over the track, and he was luckily able to release it on digital services after a long battle against sample clearances.
2. “Cocoa Butter Kisses” (ft. Vic Mensa, Twista)
Chance has famously repped Chicago extremely hard throughout his career. “Cocoa Butter Kisses” is a beautiful song, from the coughs, instrumentation, vulnerability, and storytelling, and it helped shape Acid Rap and played a big part cementing its iconic status in mixtape history.
1. “I Might Need Security”
Flipping an iconic Jamie Foxx stand-up bit, Chance reminded people who he was after a slight blip in his career. Any doubts were put aside, and Chance showed people his true ability as an MC.
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