Chance’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ‘Big Day’

Photo by Jelle van Leest on Unsplash

Chance the Rapper is a fascinating oddball rapper to come out of the 2010s. Whether it is his signature look of a baseball cap and overalls or his Christian faith that he wears on his sleeve, Chance sets himself apart from his peers. 

His three mixtape run of “10 Day,” “Acid Rap” and “Coloring Book” thrust him into stardom. His mixing of gospel and rap over jazz production on his mixtape “Coloring Book” earned him the unique honor of having the first-ever Grammy-winning mixtape

Chance even received a co-sign from Kanye West, an honor he shares with other high-profile rappers such as Travis Scott and Kid Cudi. Perhaps most impressively, Chance accomplished his success without a recording label as an independent artist

It seemed like nothing could stop Chance. To quote Chance himself on the song “Ultralight Beam:” “I met Kanye West. I am never going to fail.”

Coming off the heels of a Grammy-winning mixtape, the hype for his debut album was immeasurable. The album was first allegedly going to drop on July 20, 2018, but this was not the case. A year later, on July 19, 2019, Chance revealed that his album’s title would be “The Big Day,” and it would release the following Friday.  

After its release, “The Big Day” received mixed receptions from critics with an aggregate score of 71 on Metacritic. Fan reception, in contrast, was very hostile. The release thread on the subreddit,  r/hiphopheads, expressed mockery and disdain for the album and generally viewed it as a significant step down from his previous works.  

Disappointed fans on Twitter made memes about how often Chance talked about his wife on the album. The criticism got to the extent that Chance said he felt like his fans “wanted him to kill himself.”

Chance fan Nagib Shaban similarly felt disappointed by the album.

“I was a big Chance fan, and I think ‘Acid Rap’ and ‘Coloring Book’ are classics,” he said. “‘The Big Day’ is just trash. There isn’t much else to say.”

Sophomore Patrick Fagan described “The Big Day” as a “swan dive off a cliff compared to his previous works.”

Listening to the album, it is clear that it went in a very different direction than his previous work—the album borders on being a concept album about his marriage. 

There’s even a video dedicated to counting how many times Chance talks about his wife. Sonically, there’s even less of the gospel influences than his previous works, with songs like “Hot Shower” being little more than a basic drum beat.

“The Big Day’s” reception would result in more problems for Chance later down the line. Chance canceled the album’s tour, citing he wanted to spend time with his family. But it is speculated that low ticket sales were the real reason he canceled the tour. 

Chance sold out large venues for previous tours, so he could have overestimated how his album would go over with fans. Chance’s former manager made a statement in an ongoing lawsuit that all but explicitly states that lackluster ticket sales lead to the tour’s cancellation.

Ultimately, even though Chance’s debut album was not the major success many hoped for, he’s far from a failed artist. He’s still in the top 500 artists in terms of monthly listeners, according to Spotify.

Regardless, Chance’s next album has its fair share of work ahead of itself to escape the grim shadow of “The Big Day.”