Jul 29, 2015

Editorial Review: #Surf - @DonnieTrumpet & @ChancetheRapper (by @RamseySaidWHAT)

It took a lot out of me to write this, I know how much Queen loves Chance but I had to review this one. Maybe next time honey.

Alright how do I even begin? Surf as of right this moment is number one in my AOTY rankings. We're a little more than halfway through the year. I know it might indeed be too soon but it's just something about this one. Through and through the mesh of Donnie Trumpet, Social Experiment, and Chance the Rapper bless our ears with sheer greatness. It's like a combination of live band like The Roots and Chance's quirky uniqueness. I would make a different comparison but his voice, spoken word, and flow style is so unique. Although the project is feature heavy it is near perfection. No artist upstaged another. Besides features aren't always too bad, word to Niles and Statik Seletktah They spoke their two cents and got too it. Speaking of two cents, they released it for free on iTunes. Let's get to it.

Track one, Miracle. Choral vocals fade in from the back to the foreground. I can't think of a different word than eerie to describe the melody sang by Raury. Don't get used to it because the beat stops and Chance enters with spoken word. The beat follows soon and turns it to a rap. We can expect more surprise as the album takes off. All in all, nice introduction.

Slip Slide follows up next. The song begins with noise as we band nerds call it. The trumpet takes over the melody. Busta Rhymes surprises everyone thanking Chance for giving him the opportunity to spit and stand up (or try to, I had to make a pun). No diss at all because Busta delivers and reminds us why he's a legend and far from past his prime. There is no plateau for this man. B.O.B also makes an appearance. They spit about trying not to slip and slide and fall into the tendencies of the rest of the industry. I was ultimately surprised it wasn't Akon on the hook but Macea of the O'My's serenading us all. Slip Slide ends really smooth and transitions nicely into Warm Enough. Noname Gypsy and Chance the Rapper trade back and forth with bars about love. "Who are you to love me and not call me by my name." Gypsy blesses us with vocals on the hook and then it happened.

"Is that J. Cole?!" yell me and my cousin during our first listen on an Atlantic City road trip. He follows suit with the love rant and if I had to crown a winner it'd have to be the lady. Maybe they just love better than we. Debatable but back to the topic. Nothing Came to Me serves as an interlude of sorts. Donnie Trumpet keeps it simple. I guess no title for the track came to name and he reminded us that this is indeed a jazz album first, then hip-hop. Beautiful trumpet solo.
Surf returns to a joyful mood with the next track, Wanna Be Cool. Chancellor is joined by Jeremih singing. "I don't wanna be cool. I just wanna be me." The next surprise is Big Sean and Super Duper Kyle rapping about staying true to themselves. Fun but importantly preached by the singer/rapper quartet. The album feel takes another turn when Windows begins. Chance the Rapper is joined by BJ the Chicago Kid and Raury. They croon not to look up to them. I still swear I hear Mali Music and his singing habits in this song. I could be wrong but I swear it's him even if he's not listed in the credits. Nonetheless, it's easily my favorite song that is still on repeat as I type. Caretaker has another interlude feeling. Not too lengthy as D.R.A.M sings about taking good care of his lover, even if she is a groupie. The song samples Find My Way Back, the old Jaheim jam. I even hear hints of Can You Handle it by Usher. At least that's what it suggests. Gents you can put this in your "Get the drawers" mix, thank me later.

Just Wait begins with Donnie and Social Experiment just going ham for no reason at all. Eff it that's why. After their jam session ends, Chance the "singer" returns preaching patience. Familiar provides the biggest surprise feature on the album. Musically the song is so funky and Chance paves the way with a really dope flow and hook. Fellow Chicago native King Louie makes an appearance but what baffled the hell out of me was Quavo from Migos laying a verse down. It doesn't matter if you don't like jazz this album is really for everyone. Trust me, I hit the Whip, Cook, and Nay-Nay, a lot to this jam. Crossover music at it's finest. Following Familiar is SMTHNTHTIWNT which features Saba. This project has shown Chicago a lot of love indeed. The production is really distorted where the chi-town emcee spits a nice little verse. Not exactly whack but in comparison with the rest of the project this song can be overlooked. Go which features Jesse Boykins III, Mike Golden, and Joey Purp. The mood drastically changes back upbeat. Jesse Boykins III joins singers from Social Experiment to sing a fun hook. Mike Golden lays down vocals with the first verse. Joey Purp follows up with some bars of his own. Hook, verse, hook, bridge, verse hook, outro. The format to this song is perfect, point blank. Questions featuring Jamila Woods is next. I originally thought this was actually Dej Loaf. I love the percussion and jam session. The song is short but sweet. Not much else to say.

Something Came to Me seems like a response to the earlier song, Nothing Came to Me. Donnie lends his horn with another trumpet solo. It leads into Rememory with finesse. Chance the Rapper takes the role of the man in a bad divorce. He tells his regret and worry for the children. Ady Suleiman assists with a falsetto of sorts on the hook. Really dramatic groaning voice fits the mood of the song perfect, when out of nowhere Sara Bellum appears. Yes that's right the queen, Erykah Badu herself lends her jazzy motherly vocals to console the hurting Chancellor. Jamila Woods makes another appearance on the next song, Sunday Candy. She really gets her chance to show her own talent this time around. So many gospel characteristics blend well with the live band sound. The hook is reminiscent to Genesis chapter six if you have a bible handy. Chance's verse added hip-hop to the crossover. Fuego. The projects wraps up with Pass the Vibes. Eric Butler sings over a catchy instrumental. It's very touristy. Maybe I created that word but it's like you could hear that tune on a Caribbean vacation commercial if you catch my drift (get it? Drift? Surf? It's my last chance at a pun).

All jokes aside Surf is a great project. As of now this might be my favorite thus far this year. As Niles said in his Statik Selektah review, this year is quite the competition for album of the year. We've seen strong showings from hip-hop and the year is only half over. This year I think the staff will have a much more diverse showing than the previous year. It's albums like Surf that make this possible. Perhaps it was really feature heavy but the surprises made the album that much sweeter. Chance the Rapper served as Social Experiment's Black Thought. Assists from heavy hitters, legends, and up-and-comers made this sweeter than your high school sweetheart's cute bestie. Donnie Trumpet, Social Experiment, and Chance the Rapper's Surf gets 4.7 of 5 stars on the Ramsey Rating Scale. You can stream the project below via DatPiff. Enjoy the vibes. I need yall to feel this.

Jonathan C. Ramsey
Jonathan C. Ramsey

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

No comments: