BY JEWEL WICKER/AJC MusicScene
Chance the Rapper hasn’t released new music since his Fox Theatre show in October, but he’s certainly grown more popular.
Like the Fox Theatre concert, Chance’s sold-out show at Lakewood Amphitheatre featured a setlist that mostly highlighted a mix of the rapper’s Gospel-influenced “Coloring Book” and its predecessor, the critically acclaimed mixtape “Acid Rap.” Where the 2016 show centered around Chance’s spiritual journey following the release of “Coloring Book” earlier that year, this show served as a celebration of the success that has followed.
“Are there really this many Chance the Rapper fans in Atlanta,” the rapper asked the screaming crowd before reflecting on previous shows at Fox Theatre, The Tabernacle and Center Stage.”That’s what I’m used to playing and it’s crazy to see all y’all here.”
Wearing a fur-lined denim jacket, jeans, white T-shirt and his signature “3” hat, Chance opened the show with “Mixtape,” setting the tone for this show as one that would focus on celebrating his success in spite of the fact that he has rejected traditional industry conventions. Backed by the Social Experiment and backup singers that included the harmonious trio ThirdStory of Youtube fame, the rapper then delved into the more religious cuts from “Coloring Book,” including “Blessings” and “Angels.”
Casual fans would probably know every word to Chance’s “Ultralight Beam” from fellow Chicago rapper Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo,” but they might not know Chance is credited as a songwriter on other songs from the album. The rapper performed “Waves” and “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1” as images of himself and Kanye appeared on a large screen behind him during the set.
Later in the show, Chance rapped his verse on DJ Khaled’s current hit single “I’m The One” before revising his critically acclaimed mixtape “Acid Rap,” which predated “Coloring Book” with popular songs such as “Lost” about a drug-fueled romance. The song was juxtaposed by the exuberant fan favorite “Same Drugs,” which found the rapper reminiscing on a troubled relationship from his youth, towards the end of the show. Regardless of the type of love Chance was rapping about, his movements, including a wink and a flashing of his stomach, were met with shrieks from the crowd.
Elsewhere, songs such as “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Sunday Candy” found the rapper reflecting nostalgically on his relationship with his mother and grandma, respectively.
No matter the topic or the age of the songs he sang, Chance’s energy remained high and his fans sang along to every word.
Earlier this year, Chance the Rapper won three Grammys, celebrating his accomplishments as an independent artist with a gospel-inspired performance during the live program. Chance’s status as an independent artist has caused a bit of controversy, with some people criticizing the artist for not truly being independent because of his partnership with Apple Music.
“If one more label try and stop me, it’s going to be some dread-headed [expletive] in your lobby,” Chance rapped on “No Problems,” sans Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz. As he delivered the popular line, logos for mock record labels such as Phony (Sony) were displayed on a giant screen behind him. With his recent success, the stunt felt unnecessarily petty. The rapper himself poked fun at the absurdity of it all by humming the tune from his Kit Kat commercial, an endorsement he said he hears jokes about often.
Chance ended his show by doing what he does best: leading the audience in an impromptu praise and worship session.
The crowd went wild when he changed the words to “Jesus is all I got,” during “All We Got” and again during a singalong to “Drown.” He closed his set with “Blessings (Reprise)” instructing fans to throw their hands up in the air and bring them back down to symbolize the refrain “when the praises go up, the blessings come down,” as confetti filled the air.
While the “Be Encouraged 2017” Atlanta show focused on showing off a popular rapper at the height of his career, Chance the Rapper’s faith was still woven throughout the concert.