Release Date: May 29, 2015
Record label: Self Released
So just how influential has Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap become in the two years since it came out? It got so popular that some people actually burned this free online mixtape to CD, put a barcode on it, and actually convinced certain stores to sell it. Although that sounds like a ridiculous gambit, it sold enough copies to actually appear on a Billboard chart ranking, despite the fact that it was released online for free. Yet those who experienced Acid Rap first-hand know full well just how powerful it is: coming off as a confidently laid-back update of De La Soul’s D.A.I.S.Y.
Cheers to the 13 rappers featured on Surf, an album that's nonetheless billed, appropriately, as a jam band's grand pop gesture. Donnie Trumpet runs shit here; Chance and Busta just live here. Officially, Surf is a (free) album by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, that latter collective accounting for Chance the Rapper's side-hustle as a lead singer.
When it comes to artists pushing forward the music industry, it’s hard to think of someone that exemplifies the “independent” mantra much more than Chance The Rapper. The Chicago-based MC rose to fame on the back of two widely acclaimed releases, 10 Day and 2013’s massive Acid Rap. Two years have passed since Acid Rap took over the internet, and since then we’ve seen Chance closing out Lollapalooza, fielding constant offers from major labels and ultimately deciding to forego all expectations of such a swiftly rising artist.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. To consider Surf a Chance The Rapper project, an Acid Rap follow-up or even a rap album in general, is to do yourself and the work of Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, a detrimental disservice. The highly anticipated collaborative album debut, spontaneously unleashed for free on iTunes, is elevated and progressive throughout the 16-track opus, which fuses an anomaly of jazz, rap and R&B layers into a sort of audial Interstellar, free of rules or restrictions.
Surf begins like the Beach Boys and ends with the loping pop melody of a lost 1970s AM radio record. These moments bookend a world and a worldview; as its title suggests, the album is a musical vacation. Instead of following a straightforward path, Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment spill outward, finding new inlets and tributaries to explore.
Initially thought to be the follow-up to Chance The Rapper’s 2013 second album/mixtape, ‘Acid Rap’, ‘Surf’ has come out as something unexpected. Its first offering – ‘Sunday Candy’, released last November – was billed to Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment (Chance’s touring band), as ‘Surf’ is, but was actually a very personal Chance track about his grandmother. You guessed that this most reluctant of new rap stars was hiding within a band with a nominal, different leader, but ‘Surf’ proves to be a truly collaborative effort, forsaking individuality for something more universal and beyond even the membership of The Social Experiment – Chance, trumpet player Donnie, drummer Greg Landfair Jr, keyboardist Peter Cottondale and producer Nate Fox.
Releasing a rap album in 2015 isn’t as straightforward as it should be. From Lil Wayne’s perpetually delayed final Carter album to early releases/leaks forcing Earl Sweatshirt and Kendrick Lamar’s hands, often things are mothballed or shunted forward by forces well outside of an artist’s or label’s control. Chance the Rapper has taken a different approach entirely in releasing Surf, a sort-of follow up to 2013’s mixtape hit Acid Rap, with Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment (the latter being the live band he tours and records with).
Chicago is an urban metropolis divided into sections. From pockets of extreme wealth to areas many fear to venture, the Windy City can be as dangerous as it is beautiful, often pitting its citizens against each other. These social clashes have produced artists like Common and Kanye West, each taking a different approach to detailing the barrier that splits their city into pieces.
Surf, the debut album from Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, the collective that famously counts Chance the Rapper as a member, is all over the place. There are songs that could’ve landed on Chance’s next solo project. There are instrumentals where Donnie, born Nico Segal, justifies his top billing. Famous rappers (including J.
He tried to tell us, but we wouldn’t listen. Despite his repeated insistence to the contrary, many fans of Chance the Rapper’s first two mixtapes — 2012’s #10Day and (particularly) 2013’s mainstream breakthrough Acid Rap — wanted to believe that imminent “surprise” LP Surf was actually going to be the third proper Chance release. When the album finally (and sneakily) dropped last Thursday night, it was reported almost across-the-board (including in this publication) as the new Chance the Rapper album, or at best the new “Chance the Rapper & the Social Experiment” album, as if the group was some Wings-like backing band that could essentially be employed or discarded at the artist’s discretion, with little relevance to the listening public.
Chance the Rapper's 2013 mixtape Acid Rap marked him as one of the brightest new voices in hip-hop. For his next move, he's swerved left, collaborating with a crew of Chicago pals led by Nico Segal (a.k.a. Donnie Trumpet) on a warm, evocative pop-soul-jazz album that comes straight from the heart. Segal's horn parts and orchestration often provide the most charm — see the sublime paired tracks "Nothing Came to Me" and "Something Came to Me." Elsewhere, Chance stands out on the goofy "Wanna Be Cool," and guest appearances from veterans like Erykah Badu and newcomers such as Migos' Quavo add extra spice to this sweet treat.
You remember this one, they gave it away like a week ago? Yeah, well, it’s incredible. Not that it needs my help, being incredible and all. Dazzlingly colorful in its instrumental palette. Harmonically sophisticated. Rhythmically eclectic. Impeccably-sequenced yet with every track standing strong ….
Rap’s history is littered with artists who have been burned by major labels, often badly, yet despite decades worth of cautionary tales, those labels still hold an irresistible allure. Whenever a rapper catches enough buzz with a mixtape or single, it’s only a matter of time before they succumb to the promise of big advances and even bigger stardom. Some deals work out, others backfire spectacularly, but given the opportunity, almost every rapper plays the odds.
Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s “Surf,” the new album associated with Chance the Rapper’s crew, finally arrived as a free download a few days ago after a couple of years of increasingly feverish anticipation. Just don’t call it a follow-up. Chance’s 2013 mix tape, “Acid Rap,” became one of the most lauded hip-hop albums of recent years, but instead of focusing on his solo career, the South Side MC poured his energies into what the music industry might call a side project.
Chance The Rapper, the singer, the film producer, the viral sensation, has evolved into a folkloric figure in the two years since the release of his universally acclaimed 2013 Acid Rap project. The typical route an artist takes when their mixtape reaches Double Platinum status on Datpiff is to follow up with an official debut album, spearheaded by a contrived single featuring megastar billing. But the Chicago native is far from typical, even in spite of a city known for birthing some of the most transcendent voices in hip-hop.