Chance The Rapper The Observatory 11/18/13 It's impressive to see a hip-hop artist sell out a space the size of The Observatory based solely on the strength of his mixtapes. It's more impressive to see that same rapper rise to the occasion and perform with a full band and choreographed projections. Last night, Chance The Rapper accomplished both feats. The young Chicagoan received his big break earlier this year after releasing his lauded Acid Rap project. Though technically a mixtape, the 13-song collection features the likes of Childish Gambino, Twista, and Action Bronson, as well as clean production and a cohesive flow, giving it the vibe of a properly released full-length album.
As hype poured in, Chance received nods from critics and hip hop's heavy hitters, landing him supporting spots on tours with Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. Late last month, the eccentric rapper/crooner set out on his first headlining tour, the "Social Experiment Tour," and has been selling out some venues (read: Los Angeles' El Rey) so quickly that he added another date (December 19 at Club Nokia for any of you who missed out the first time around). And the buzz is for good reason.
As soon as Chance hit the stage in Santa Ana, a flurry of iPhones arose to snap shots. With a smile planted on his face, the young rapper delved right into Acid Rap's opener, "Good Ass Intro," and melded it with vignettes of "NaNa," and "Brain Cells," off his debut mixtape, 10 Day. As he flowed, his Michael Jackson-inspired dance drew plenty of hoots and hollers from the crowd. After the teaser, the 20-year-old introduced a backing band consisting of two keyboards, trumpet and drums.
With the support of a musical quartet, Chance tested out his chops with the slow burning "Everybody's Something," and "Lost," as tasteful black and white footage of a topless woman in her panties flashed on the screen behind the band.
Chance snuck in a cover of Coldplay's "Fix You" mid-set and again utilized the projector to bounce lyrics to the audience like a karaoke machine. But its most impressive use was part of the rapper's "social experiment." Throughout the show, he implemented the tour's name by interacting with the audience in intimate ways. Near the end of the set, he directed the crowd's noise level by instructing everyone to go silent and then burst into cheer on his command. After finishing "Favorite Song," Chano strutted off stage unannounced and the screen went black. That is, until the crowd cheered. As applause rose up, "Do You Want To Hear One More Song," pulsed on the screen to the beat of clapping hands. On cue, the band re-emerged and began an instrumental interlude as Chance spoke of a fictional dream he'd had that involved Jay-Z and Kanye West, before stepping back into the well-deserved spotlight.
Critical Bias: This was one of the more impressive hip hop performances I've attended. Chance can rap, sing and dance, and the backing band and projections bumped it up another level.
The Crowd: Young, trendy hip-hop aficionados .
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Overheard In The Crowd: "Four-Twenty!"
Random Notebook Dump: I can't wait to see what happens to Chance The Rapper after he releases a proper album.