Friday, August 10th, 2018

Chance the Rapper – I Might Need Security

And we might need a better song.


Will Rivitz: Even two full years after its release, I still struggle with just how monumental a step back Coloring Book was for Chance The Rapper’s artistic evolution. How could the man who characterized the convolutions and uncertainties of young adulthood so adroitly and poetically set all of those poignant observations aside in favor of an uncritical appreciation of the glories of fatherhood and a shallow nostalgia for how things used to be? I guess what got me was the album’s unprecedented change of attitude: I would never in a million years have guessed that Acid Rap‘s nuanced self-criticism could have morphed into a Disneyfied version of itself not even three years later. In that regard, at least “I Might Need Security” does indeed have a precedent: this is the narcissistic and toxically insecure Chance we’ve all gotten to know since 2016. “I ain’t no activist, I’m the protagonist” is consistent with the Chance who, when a poem he wrote for NPR’s Tiny Desk last year was interrupted by the sound of an elevator, started again from the beginning, because the idea of continuing where he left off would have been inconceivable. “I donate to the schools next, they call me a deadbeat daddy” is consistent with the Chance who slid into a Twitter rando’s DMs to tell them to “get off [his] dick” because the user had the nerve to say Chance’s proposal to his baby mama may have come a few years too late to generate goodwill. “I’ll make you fix your words like a typo suggestion / Pat me on the back too hard and Pat’ll ask for your job” is consistent with the Chance who made MTV remove a review critical of Coloring Book because it wasn’t well-suited to his tastes. (The review, which sums up my thoughts on the album better than most anything else I’ve seen, was reposted by the author on his Medium page.) At least he’s being honest here.

Micha Cavaseno: Interesting thing about Chance the Rapper’s debut mixtape 10 Day: It wasn’t good, it was fine. Besides songs like “Juke Juke” in which you could sort of see his more manic tendencies emerging, a lot of Chance’s earliest material was mealy mouthed rappity rap that was adequate but ultimately boring. It’s why Acid Rap, where he did find his voice, was so much more rightfully received and recognized. While Chance’s excesses and tics have now become downright aggravating, it made sense that he went in that direction because as a straight rapper there’s just nothing compelling to his plain lyrics and delivery. Apparently, you might need proof as well, and lucky for us Chance decided to provide such.

Ryo Miyauchi: The Jamie Foxx sample is the only redeemable thing here with Chance throwing random fake-deep rhymes to a piano-led beat that vaguely channels The College Dropout in feel. It’s a life update as a stopgap release between his album presumably in the works, and yet another reminder that Chance has been a hero to Chicago since Coloring Book. It’s an exhausting point he keeps on reiterating. Will he lighten his sense of self-importance if we erect that statue he so craves to be built?

Julian Axelrod: Chance’s nice guy phase was never going to last. You can’t be that rich and that famous for that long without a few compromises and some dirty laundry, and the distinctly Obama-era rap star has had a decidedly post-2016 descent. The Noname collabs gave way to DJ Khaled features; the label aversion morphed into Apple Music kowtowing; the social media savvy proved ineffectual in the face of fan criticism. So “I Might Need Security” presents a new Chance: bitter, prickly, his grin warped into an wary smirk. Luckily, this Chance is still a hell of a rapper, and even in the midst of a 45 degree heel turn he’s bubbly enough to spit over a cheeky Jamie Foxx sample that makes no bones about his beef. I might actually like Chance 2.0 better than the original; he looks good with his back against the ropes and some dirt under his nails. But I’m predisposed to like any song that big ups Verne Troyer and clowns Rahm Emanuel, so take my opinion with a grain of celery salt.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: A mixed bag, just like everything Chance has done since mid-2016. Points in its favor: Chance announcing that he bought a news site in the second verse of a loosie, “I’m only 25 but I’m Motown 25,” calling for Rahm to resign. Points against: all the woe is me, heavy is the crown shit, the Verne Troyer pun, half of his punchlines in general. And yet “I Might Need Security” still works, in spite of itself– maybe it’s just the Jamie Foxx sample, but Chance is channeling mid-2000s Kanye here at his most maddeningly likeable.

Vikram Joseph: An airing of grievances and a settling of scores (some of them on a widescreen, political scale, and some which need Infinite Jest-level footnoting to comprehend), juxtaposed with Chance’s laconic flow and a hazy, sun-bleached beat which almost drifts into “Drinking in L.A.” at one point. The dreamy “fuck you” hook serves as microcosm for the song – there’s anger here, but it’s so palatable.

Ian Mathers: Some of the content here is good, even possibly important. But I don’t remember Chance sounding this outright halting in places before, and that sample really sounded like such a good idea they’re just going to let it have the last 45 seconds of the track, huh?

Alfred Soto: He’s twenty-five (“Motown twenty-five”), expects to see a statue in his honor, and samples a Jamie Foxx routine’s “fuck you.” Relative to his modest talents, his ego annoys the hell out of me but not as much as his irregularly deployed sing-song: he can’t decide whether to cram too many syllables per line or speak-sing the leaden moments. His good intentions scare me most. 

Stephen Eisermann: The problem with Chance is his commitment to telling us he’s a good guy – the protagonist, even – without doing any of the work. He continues doing the same here, and even though he makes some good points while calling out some bad players (with shaky wordplay, at best), his lack of self-awareness is nearly as hard to swallow as his pride. 

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The cover of this single is a rendering of the Arthur’s fist meme and the song is held together by a chipmunk’d Jamie Foxx sample. These things make “I Might Need Security” a smart PR move of a song: there’s a clear link made between his happy-go-lucky personality and what’s present here. He sounds more self-conscious than ever, well-worn to the point of actual aggression. When he finally takes the sample’s lead and declares “fuck you,” it’s clear that he doesn’t want it to read as anything other than acerbic. While this may sculpt a more complete image of who Chance is, it unfortunately sounds more labored over and tedious than the majority of his catalogue. Hearing Chance’s straightforward talk-rapping recalls his poetry slam past–especially since it’s coupled with a beat as static as this–and it doesn’t particularly play to his strengths. As listeners, we’re asked to primarily revel in the lyrics. When I do, it sounds like a whole lot of boring whining. Which begs the question, why would I want to listen to this?

Nortey Dowuona: Smooth, chipmunk curse coos echo in the back as they hit the slack, soft drums, as purring, bulging bass then drizzling. Deep piano is lathered over as Chance snarls thin threats that bulge out of the cotton candy wool of the production.

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