Hearing how well Chance finessed his preposterous Skrillex feature on Tuesday, we were reminded of just how many times throughout his short career that the Chicago pinball has slayed guest appearances. This list of Chance’s 10 best features had to be surprisingly selective–a lot of great spots had to be left out to deliver the 10 best. As a testament to this, we left an honorable mention section below #1. Now, listen to Chancellor steal the show, song after song.
10. The O’My’s – “Bout A Dolla”
Sliding in with some the infectious, tongue-twisting style that Chance has groomed over the years (Damn dear prancers, don’t dash for dames / Don’t dip for chips”), the young Chicagoan, who was even younger then makes some bold statements. Coming from someone as genuine as Chance, they penetrate further: “If they hit me it’s luck / If they touch me I quit, I’m a rapper’s delight / I’m the rapper to like, a comma after the the.” Chance’s voice and delivery stay smooth, but there’s serious ambition and the beginnings of triumph embedded in this performance. After all, it only took about a year for the boasts to start becoming truth.
Best Line: “You heard of Chuck The Rapper? / You heard of Chance The Ripper? / You wanna fuck a rapper?”
9. Benzel – “Semi-Detached”
The second shortest verse on this list, Chance’s contribution to “Semi-Detached” makes an immense impression in a short time. The story that Chance constructs from corners here is a compelling, fully felt and vastly inhabitable one. Each detail (“She know my favorite flavor skittles / She know everything we argue ’bout”) echoes with the droplet snare, rippling into larger and larger emotive rings. Good writing, and good narration, always give plenty to work with morally without ever revealing which character is “right” in any direct way. Chance’s masterful and wrenching reveal of his uneven juggling of women holds this balance with astounding poise. Also, he’s never sounded sadder.
Best Line: “She know she’ll never have her song, she know she’ll never have my son / She know she’ll never have your pain, she’ll never have to have a hunch”
8. Milo & Otis – “Lift Up”
Keeping with the theme of relationships, this song is perhaps Chance’s most romantic recorded moment (and certainly somewhere in the all-time best moments of hip-hop love). Chance throws himself wholly into wooing this girl, completely disregarding the possibility of sounding corny, only (barely) defending himself once: “Let’s make kids–that’s not really a rap line.” Besides that, the verse is full-tilt Valentines Day, as Chance rattles off one grand lyrical gesture of love after another. Even when he succumbs to cliches, he sounds good doing it, and follows the dope verse with some singing, as if his feelings had burst beyond rap and needed a real melody.
Best Line: “I wanna kiss you on your band-aids / Wanna make you a house that’s manmade / I want you as my bandmate”
7. Donnie Trumpet – “Zion”
One of Chance’s most melodic verses ever, his spot on Donnie Trumpet‘s “Zion” finds undeniable chemistry with the beat. He’s exactly on the line between singing and rapping here, and only hangs inside of that sweet spot for eight bars, but he makes them count immensely. The verse grows with importance after some research: “Zion” is named for (and a reinterpretation of) Lauryn Hill‘s “To Zion,” which was addressed to the son she had with Rohan Marley. When Chance references “grandpappy,” it’s Bob. The verse gains emotional ground with this context, but still has a mysterious and profound air to it even when taken at face value.
Best Line: “Me mommy love me, like she love her nappy head / She sang me fables, when she used to wrap me dreads”
6. Odd Couple – “Bombay State Of Mind”
If you know someone who still needs to be introduced to Chance’s zany, elastic, presence and flow, the first few seconds of his feature on Odd Couple‘s “Bombay State Of Mind” is a good place to start. Chance slides in, sounding as comfortable as anyone ever has, unfurling his syllables like a blanket–“Screaming buuurn it down,”–before spinning them like a top–“Bad bitches runnin’ round like, shiiiirtless now.” The rest of the verse serves as a solid summation of Chance’s character: there are references to Chicago, tobacco, drugs, and summertime death. Chance is at home when he’s got any of those four on the brain.
Best Line: “Acid, adderol, and adjectives / An adolescent I could fuck and “Igh”‘s his fuckin’ ad-a-lib?”
5. ProbCause – Three Course Meal”
For those who think Chance’s voice can get annoying, this verse is not going to win any new fans. For everyone else, there is tons of energy and some insane wordplay to be mined from this ProbCause feature. Chance does backflips all over this trampoline of a beat, delivering heaps of slick-sounding alliteration: “Concerts complete carnage,” and the Best Line below are the best examples. Here, Chance proves to the purists that he really can do the rappity-rap thing, and that he can do it with more flavor than you’re used to. Also, this explanation he gives on RapGenius is nuts.
Best Line: “Trips to continents constant / Mix consonants and vowels and mispronounce it / Throw pronouns so profound I sound pompous”
4. Justin Bieber – “Confident”
Speaking of new fans, there’s no doubt Chance won loads of them here. That was the easy part. What’s astounding is that he manages to fit in on a Justin Bieber song without making the sacrifice of any of his normal style or intellect that would cause him to lose original fans. Rapping about, maybe–maybe regrettably–Miley, Chance bounces off the walls with quick-witted energy. Knowing he was going on the radio, Chance laces his verse with a lot of punchlines, all of them winners: “deep pockets like a doctor’s coat,” “Stay faded like Diddy’s hair, back tryna’ rock the vote,” and the Best Line are all perfectly landed double entendres.
Best Line: “She the first mate when I rock the boat / She never forget to ride like a bicycle / She like planes, trains, chains with icicles / It goes her, blank, blank, and rock & roll”
3. Mick Jenkins – “Crossroads”
Chance’s stop at the “Crossroads” covers a huge range, thematically and texturally. He begins speaking on a date, delivering the line “I’m bout my green like an avocado guacamole” in the utmost example of his specific style of baby-talk. He sounds somberly playful. From there, Chance allows the flow to pick up a bit as he paints a heavily assonated picture of Chitown (in the best lines below). He says he’s “just havin’ fun with it,” but takes a hairpin turn into darker territory: “Vic just brought the beef up, Mick just brought a gun with it,” and the juxtaposition of Chance’s attempt at “just fun” and what that turns into make the moment all the more powerful.
Best Line(s): “You think you could stomach it? / Umf, tummy ache / All you did was shadow box / All you did was run in place”
“Kamikaze comma Common Keef and ComicCon / Ye and me and King L Katie here’s a common Con”
2. Vic Spencer – “Out The Water”
Sounding infinitely more at home on the song than Vic Spencer himself, Chance emerges from the deep beat like a submarine from the sea. Aside from women and his city, childhood is probably Chance’s number one muse, and he shows why that’s a successful well to draw from here. We glimpse inside the window of Chance’s childhood home and see him begin to sprout the personality that would one day become The Rapper. He’s got a big fro, he’s fighting with his father, he’s alternating between imitations of 2Pac and MJ. Most of all though, little Chance must have been gripping memories as tight as he could, because he draws on them effortlessly here, like in the closing frenzy where he rails against an unnamed doubter with a pumping intensity.
Best Line: “Told I had the same fro that Pop’s had / Told I had the same flow that Pac had”
1. Childish Gambino – “They Don’t Like Me”
“They Don’t Like Me” is quintessential Chance. His energy reaches a fever pitch here, juke-stepping on to the beat and scuffing it up with style. Every last piece of this verse embodies Chance’s unique style. He stretches words out into sung notes (the first bars). His sense of humor comes through in full effect (“She say something something Spanish / I look back like, “bitch–I–I know”). Even the namedrops here are tinged with Chance’s off-kilter touch–“Eddy Scissorhands” and “Fredward Mercury” appear in the first bars. The structure of the verse’s final act is certainly the highlight though–the payoff when Chance finally hits that last “Saturday Ni-i-ight” rhyme is what rapping was made for.
Best Lines: “And I’m flyin’, but it’s cool, I got insurance / On the run because I got warrants, but it’s cool I got endurance”
“Tonight, I’mma make decisions for life / Take some lucy’s boomer’s dark liq’ and light, some might drive”
Best Line: “I’ve been fiending for a hit / Got my guard down in God’s garden, Eve and Adam eatin’ all of it”
Best Line: “I love you like grandma love Jesus / Like Jesus love you, like pews love preachers / Like Ozzie loved Ruby, like Ruby loves Gator / But Gator loved rock, like rock does paper”
Best Line: “Good God, them good raps, you gave up for them hoodrats / Been a Long Time, since Hey Ma / Cause you burned down on your good shit”
Best Line: “Lil’ college dropout, blame it on Ye’ / Lil’ Jimmy done grown up, he’s slangin’ them tapes”
Best Line: “Somebody put you down? Better stand up / Don’t wear no Jewelry nigga, them shits is handcuffs”
James Blake – “Life Round Here”
Best Line: “I’m a chill pill addict I wonder if God’s still magic / I wonder if Nas stillmatic down under the north it’s still havoc”
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This is purely amazing. The depths to which you searched within Chance’s songs are extraordinary. Very good article. Keep making these man. Subscribed.