At 22 tracks long and an hour and 17-minute play time, Chance the Rapper’s debut studio album “The Big Day” is daunting to listen to at first. Eight tracks are over four minutes long — not out of the ordinary for the rapper — and there are many songs featuring big-name artists. Nobody knew what to expect for Chance’s first studio album, as his mixtapes “10 Day,” “Acid Rap” and “Coloring Book” propelled him to his current fame and put him in a unique position for his first studio release.
He starts off the album with his signature “And we back” phrase. The record is best listened to in order, as the interlude skits lead into the following songs by playing out the scenario that supposedly led to each song’s conception.
The album is one of love, certainties versus uncertainties and fears about the future — messages that almost everyone is able to relate to.
Chance the Rapper, born Chancelor Bennett, married longtime girlfriend Kirsten Corley in March 2019. As a result, “The Big Day” features several songs about his thoughts surrounding the institution of marriage on a larger and more personal level. “The Big Day” is a direct reference to his wedding day.
The first half of the album is a celebration of his new marriage and how he feels being with his soulmate, while “5 Year Plan” starts the second half with the rapper pondering his future with his family. Later in the album, songs such as “Found a Good One (Single No More),” embody the fun and joy of a wedding reception.
Since there are so many tracks on “The Big Day,” The Red & Black has compiled a list of seven songs — less than a third of the album — that stood out during the initial listen-through of the long-awaited debut.
'All Day Long'
“Yup. And we back,” the song begins in the rapper’s typical fashion. He starts off strong, with John Legend’s smooth vocals coming in for the hook. Upbeat, lightweight and catchy — this song is sure to get stuck in your head. Chance seamlessly transitions between rapping and singing during the verses, something he has a talent for. This track was a great choice to start the album off with.
Carried by a drum beat and well-paced, slower rap, some critics believe this could have been Chance’s single instead of “Groceries,” which didn’t make it onto the album. Chance has fun with this song, spitting creative lyrics left and right, but also uses the track to get address social issues. Fairly new to the hip-hop scene, DaBaby continues to make his mark with a feature in this song that highlights his take on America’s perception of black men.
'The Big Day'
Chance explores the struggles of being married as a famous rapper and his realization of what is truly important to him. He gets vulnerable in the chorus, singing, “Oh my God, it’s the greatest day of my life/I’m so glad you arrived/But the only way to survive is to go crazy.” Halfway through the song, following his assertion about going crazy, Chance actually does go a bit crazy. In a wild transition from the slow paced song, he starts spitting profanities as he seems to be losing his mind. Some critics believe this is Chance rejecting the pursuit of money and fame in favor of choosing his family and faith above all else.
Shawn Mendes carries the chorus of this energetic love song, singing, “Let’s throw a party/Just us in my apartment/Yeah, back to where it started/As long as I’m, as long as I’m with you, babe.” Chance spends the verses complimenting his wife while also having fun, at one point referencing the infamous “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” meme that caught its big break spreading around internet message boards in 2002. He then reminisces on the fun of his wedding reception, rapping, “Big Day, super big vibes/Let’s get right, loosen this tie/Move inside, move to the side/Group, then slide, group and then slide.”
'5 Year Plan'
One of the highlights of the entire album — Chance knows his brand and uses it well. Lyric-heavy, nostalgic and filled with solemn reckonings about the future, Chance is ready for anything that comes his way as long as he has his faith and his wife right by his side. “A lot of shit came at you in a five year span/If you followed your flight plan, you’d be right here prayin’,” Chance says, referencing his reliance on God when facing an unpredictable future. “Are you ready for The Big Day?/I don’t know, but you’re well on your way,” showcases Chance’s idea that only time will tell if he is ready for married life as well as the fame this album may bring him.
'Found a Good One (Single No More)'
This track is nothing short of a celebration. Chance spends what seems like half of the song singing “I ain’t single no more,” and the verses capture his joy in realizing that he gets to spend the rest of his life with his wife. Listeners can easily identify the newlywed’s happiness, and it’s contagious. “Found a Good One (Single No More)” is a song that Chance fans won’t be able to help but dance to, which is encouraged by the lines “Now step, now step to the left (More)/Now step, now step to the right (More)” that are repeated toward the end of the song.
'Zanies and Fools'
Nicki Minaj has already made headlines with her feature in this track where she hinted at being both engaged and pregnant. She is currently dating Kenneth Petty, which has been controversial because of Petty’s criminal record including first-degree manslaughter and being a registered sex offender in New York. Minaj sparked rumors by rapping, “ … he the Clyde to my Bonnie/’Bout to walk down the aisle and be a mommy,” but nothing has been confirmed. Meanwhile, Chance uses the song to address the declining marriage rates in the U.S., but he also tells the story of how he and his wife first met. The song carries a hopeful tone, as the only words in the chorus are “It’s possible.”