Chance The Rapper is a very much so needed shift in urban culture. The kid from Chicago uses his fiery lyrics on top of peculiar–left of center–production to offer fans a sound unfamiliar, welcoming and oftentimes needed. So when word got out he’d be linking up with Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment we knew to expect something, what’s the right word, avante guard, but we didn’t know it would be as eclectic and genre-bending as Surf.
Combining sounds ranging from jazz, to tribal, to even skating rink worthy, the 16-track record covers the musical spectrum often missing from other contemporary projects. VIBE gave Surf one full listen. No repeats. No skips. No interruptions and while we allowed ourselves to be baptized in the album’s waves, some of us succumbed further than others. They say the best thing in life are free, maybe that’s why Chance and the homies failed to put a price tag on the project.
Peep our knee-jerk reactions to Surf.
Datwon Thomas: Editor-In-Chief
Chance the Rapper is more than his stage moniker. Dude can actually hold a singer’s note that hits you with soul. Then when he raps, it’s a realism to it. Doesn’t even matter the topic, just tone alone works. Sort of like when crooners adlib their “ooh yeeeahhh!” Chance has that extra twinge to the texture of his vocals that makes him unique in his delivery. Now that he’s more of a stage performer than studio artist, his songs feel bigger and more full. Surf explores his new found freedom outside of traditional/current hip-hop trends. His EmoJazz lane makes this a flow project that captures a chamber where each song represents the whole. It’s really ill how the first and last songs frame the musical painting of Surf so well. Total summertime chill, reflect on life music.
Stacy-Ann Ellis: Assistant Editor
There’s something very special about the work of Chance The Rapper, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, especially their long-awaited freebie LP, Surf. They have a knack for elevating spirits with colorful swirls of instruments, regardless if the song is melancholy or uplifting by design. You can’t not smile and move your body, unless you’re the Grinch, that is. Surf is clearly defined as a group-think project, with the focus not falling on just one entity. The balance of instrumental-only numbers (“Nothing Came To Me”) spoken word flows (“Warm Enough”) and Chance’s rappity rap tracks (“Miracle”) is refreshing and inclusive of all audiences. These 16 tracks are meant to get lost in, let yourself lose track of time to. By album’s end, you’ll instantly be sad that it’s over.
Mikey Fresh: Music Editor
As the element of surprise continues to fuel rappers, new albums are popping up daily in the overpopulated ocean of music. But it sounds like Chance, Donnie and the Social Experiment just surfed in on the right wave. Their use of authentic instrumentation and lack of trend humping may give their new project a guilt-free vibe while listening. I can’t say that about the other albums littered in my iTunes.
Camille Augustin: News Writer
Surf rides a groovy wave into your headphones courtesy of Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment. Piecing together melodies from doo-wop vocals reminiscent of the Jersey Boys (“Wanna Be Cool”) to taking it to the heart of Africa (“Windows”), you’ll keep this compilation in rotation. These Chi-town all-stars’ work is an ode to producing a cohesive project that showcases a level of musicality (“Nothing Came To Me”) from today’s young artists. Surf is a great way to “pass the vibes” this summer.
Sidenote: “Caretaker” is too short.
Iyana Robertson: News Editor
While relatively robust in all-star features, Chance The Rapper, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment do not rely on guests to make their house a home. Instead, Surf submerges a series of artists – including Busta Rhymes, J. Cole, Jeremih, Big Sean and Migos – in their own musical tide. Most notable are Bussa Buss, who adds a percussive layer to “Slip Slide” with his signature spitfire, Cole, who snaps on “Warm Enough” with a lyrical aneurysm, and Migos, who trades in their Atlanta turn up for crooning over pianos and finger snaps on “Familiar.” And all for no charge, which, guiltily, begs the question: “What did we all do to deserve this?”
Darryl Robertson: Music Writer
Surf may be the most jovial project this year. Chance’s feel-good character is so addictive and organic that the most thugged MCs like King Louie and Migos can rock with him. Listening to Surf will momentarily heal every sad spot in your soul.
Shenequa Golding: Evening Editor
Let’s be honest: what’s worse than posting a selfie on the ‘Gram and then an hour later not breaking 11 likes? It’s the equivalent to your mother telling you you’ve gained weight. It’s the worst, like thee worst. And it’s this new age unwritten social rule that now governs all our lives that is lyrically depicted on Surf’s “Wanna Be Cool.” But aside from that track being my favorite, Chance and the homies put together not only a sonically pleasing piece of art, but they made fans think.
By intentionally not listing the features, listeners had to, well listen. Shock and awe couldn’t describe my reaction to hearing Migos or Busta Rhymes, nor could I imagine being drenched in the salt-water tunes of of the instrumental heavy “Nothing Came To Me.” And of all this robust, genre-crossing music was offered for free, so explain to me why I paid for all those other albums?