"I made 'Sunday Candy,' I'm never going to Hell / I met Kanye West, I'm never going to fail." That's the type of thing you rap when you're the 22-year-old prodigy Yeezy's using as the first rapping voice on his crazy-hyped album. Chance the Rapper, who's turned 23 since The Life of Pablo premiered to a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd in February, was under the impression that "Ultralight Beam" would be the record's finale. Instead, his verse kickstarts the hourlong affair. Good thing it touches on almost every facet of the kid's excellence: breathless Chance, cute lullaby Chance, rough-edged, "no voice in hip-hop sounds remotely like this" Chance. Clever Chance ("my daughter look just like Sia, you can't see her"). All the Chances are there, and the song's one of the best of 2016. –Zach Dionne
For more, listen to the brand new Chance 3 cut "No Problems" featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, read our guide to everything Chance has done since Acid Rap, read why he made Fuse's Future Black History Month list and check out these seven dope live covers he's performed.
The title refers to the 10 days that Chance was suspended from school for smoking marijuana in a parking lot, and the song is a slow, meditative introduction to his spastic style. The first song on 10 Day is one hulking, onomatopoeic verse, and it’s indispensable. –Jason Lipshutz
The ultimate feel-good jam of Surf, the free album released by Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, is “Wanna Be Cool” in all its delightful, brassy exuberance. Chance sings along with Jeremih on the chorus, refusing to be cool and promoting YOU being YOU. His friend Kyle has some of the best lines on the track: “If you’re cool in the middle of the woods, nobody fucking cares,” and “Baby got his jeans from Good Will, better bet that ass look good still.” –Emilee Lindner
This Mr. Wonderful single is a quality compare-and-contrast between Bronson's smoked-out gravel raps and Chance's scorched-tonsil bars. Aside from the Acid Rap-established stoner chemistry, though, Chance's verse was just a 2015-definer, creatively and comedically. With burns like "I hope there's always snow in your driveway / I hope you never get off Fridays / And you work at a Friday's that's always busy on Fridays," how could it not have been? –Zach Dionne
“This is my last...my last shit,” Chance mumbles at the beginning of what could easily be Acid Rap’s best song. The statement is a lie: “Chain Smoker” isn’t the final track, and the song was only the beginning for the MC, who has euphorically performed it in enough cities that the entire world seems a little more joyful because it exists. –Jason Lipshutz
Acid Rap cemented Chance as one of the lords of summer, and this late 2015 single celebrates Chicago's warmer months with sunshine horns and steel drums—and, in the same breath, ponders how there's "too many young angels on the South Side / Got us scared to let our grandmamas outside." –Zach Dionne
This started as a live Kanye cover performed a week after Chance and his girlfriend welcomed their first child; it quickly got a stirring studio version. It's hard not to get misty when you hear the new father promising, to the tune of an already emotional early-career song by Mr. West:
"You are all that matters, family's all that matters
This is just business, see you right after
Nothing comes before ya, nothing else matters
All of this is for ya, you are all that matters"
And if you're watching the home movie-style music video? Forget it; you're a puddle. –Zach Dionne
Fittingly, “Brain Cells” sounds like Chance wandering around the various different corners of his mind over a mournful beat, as he shouts out former classmates, Lil B (foreshadowing!), Peter Pan and Pan’s Labyrinth in a single verse. His mastery of language is dizzying, and hints at the greatness he’d achieve on Acid Rap. –Jason Lipshutz
Starting with a liquidy guitar sample from Willie Hutch's "Brother's Gonna Work It Out," "Lost" quickly becomes a hazy love song nesting inside a mellow trap song. Unlike "Trap Queen," though, this one's got a woman's voice helping paint the picture. Noname Gypsy, who now just goes by Noname, shuts it down in the final third with thoughts like, "I wanna stop seeing my psychiatrist / She said, 'Pill pop, baby girl, 'cause I promise you, you tweaked' / The empty bottled loneliness, this happiness you seek." –Zach Dionne
The oft-remixed “Show Me Love” received the special treatment when Skrillex got his hands on it, adding Chance, Moses Sumney and Robin Hannibal. Chance keeps it light, rapping about his city, but this song's all about loving strangers and warding off evil, and he fits right in. –Emilee Lindner
Chance's little brother Taylor dropped an album (a commercially available one; very un-Chance-y!) back in December. "Broad Shoulders," the poignant, retrospective title track, closes things out sibling-duet-style. It was one of Chance's first verses pondering his new life as a father. –Zach Dionne
Chance compares his grandmother’s love to going to church in Surf’s “Sunday Candy,” where he joins Jamila Woods. Bragging a little bit about his g-ma, Chance sings about her support and the discipline she taught him and his brother. You can take this as a love song for Jesus, your grandma or anyone you’re trying to take it slow with. –Emilee Lindner
Chance is the type of artist to challenge himself to make an interlude one of your favorite songs—and he does it with ease on Acid Rap. Over a slow-build gospel stunner, he blurts bars like,
"What's better than trippin is fallin in love
What's better than Letterman, Leno, Fallon, and all the above,
What's better than poppin bottles tryna ball in the club,
Is the first caveman pops with his son, ball and a club"
Chance's Greatest Hits–bound. Guaranteed. –Zach Dionne
A U.K. radio hit featuring two American stars, Snakehips’ “All My Friends” reimagined Chance as a sublime feature artist before “Ultralight Beam” did it all over again. He swoops in during the back half of the track and injects the house anthem with a shot of adrenaline. –Jason Lipshutz
Macklemore's nine-minute deep dive into white privilege seemed to raise more eyebrows than volume knobs, but his lower-key self-interrogation goes down nicely alongside Chance's on the This Unruly Mess I've Made cut "Need to Know." Mack doubts his own voice, wonders why nothing makes anything bad feel better, and fears addiction; Chano is worried about his baby daughter growing up to wear sexy clothes, says he wants "all her best friends to be white folks," then berates himself for saying it out loud. He ends up reminiscing on opening for Macklemore way back when; now, though, "the white girls call me n---a at my show."
Also: The revelation of how similar these guys can sound is no less shocking than the time The Weeknd and Ed Sheeran did a duet and sang the exact same melodies. –Zach Dionne
So much of Chance’s music is composed of reflection, so a song like “Nostalgia” naturally includes tons of references to his early childhood. More important than any SpongeBob memory or family anecdote is Chance’s wide-eyed innocence, fully captured and beautifully interpreted through the production. –Jason Lipshutz
Hearing Twista, Vic and Chance on one song remains a delightful experience, but, once again, Chance comes out on top. How can you lose when you pack two bars with sexual innuendo and a reference to the orange VHS tapes Rugrats episodes used to get released on? –Jason Lipshutz