Published Aug 10, 2015Though it's an unlikely collaboration at first glance, a new joint project from Chance the Rapper and Lil B couldn't have come at a better time for both artists. Chance's side, it's another unexpected move from a young star navigating his meteoric post-Acid Rap rise; Lil B's, it's a welcome return to the mic for a Bay Area icon whose musical output has been slowed this year by an apartment fire, sports league sorcery and mobile app development.
Whatever twist of fate brought these two unsigned emcees together was surely a fortuitous one, with Chance eager to author his own chapter in the BasedGod's book of teachings. Where freestyling traditionally comes from the mind, "based" freestyling comes from the soul, one part rap and another reflection ranging from the shallowest of observations to the deepest reaches of one's spirit. It's an approach Lil B developed and perfected himself in the early stages of his career, built on the foundation of over 125 MySpace pages on which he conducted based freestyles over everything from Boards of Canada to the score from Lord of the Dance.
Naturally, the BasedGod is the more consistent emcee of the two in terms of "off the dome" delivery, but Chance's foray into the style is certainly nothing to balk at. After taking time to ground himself on opener "Last Dance," his wordplay and delivery show significant improvement as the tape progresses, highlighted by some clever bars on "First Mixtape." Free's greatest moments come when the pair play off each other's rap skills, strengthened by the love and respect they show in trading bars and verses. The two heap compliments on one another during an interlude in "Do My Dance" and celebrate self-worth on the nine-minute Nate Fox-produced hymnal "Amen" and the club-ready "We Rare."
Listeners with open hearts and minds will find it difficult not to at least crack a smile at the overwhelming levels of positivity and chemistry that radiate through all six tracks here. It would be nothing short of sacrilege to not at least give thanks to the BasedGod and Chance for this gracious offering. (Independent)