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Chance the Rapper releases ‘The Big Day’ — morning after invite-only Chicago concert

The artist’s highly anticipated first full-length album dropped Friday midday to quick acclaim.

Chance the Rapper performs at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory Thursday night at what was billed as an album release celebration for his much-anticipated “The Big Day.”
Chance the Rapper performs at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory Thursday night at what was billed as an album release celebration for his much-anticipated “The Big Day.”
Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

While most of Chicago was sleeping Thursday night, Chance The Rapper quietly teamed up with streaming service Spotify to host an invite-only album release party and intimate concert at the Garfield Park Conservatory, just hours before his much-anticipated debut LP, “The Big Day,” was released to acclaim Friday.

“This album is really me,” he said near the end of his hometown performance Thursday night. “It’s my feelings about my friends, my wife, my daughters, God.”

Chance gave shout-outs to his spouse, Kirsten, and talked about the couple’s second daughter, due this year, while also reminiscing about the uncharacteristic road that led him to be one of the major players in modern rap. He talked about the small Midwest tours that he used to travel to in a car belonging to his manager Pat’s mom, and his first real national tour with the late Mac Miller, and of course his three Grammy Awards, presented to an artist who is notably 100% independent.

“I did this all on my f———g own,” Chance shouted, followed by thanking his “day one” fans for their eternal support. “I really did this album for you,” he said.

“This may never happen again,” he said of one of the most intimate concerts he’s given in years, “I’m so glad we have this moment right now.”

Chance had been hinting at his first full-length record for more than a year (all his previous releases have been free mixtapes). He finally confirmed the details on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” just weeks ago, leading many to wonder how he might fete the occasion in his hometown.

Unfortunately, new music was hard to come by at the Chicago event where some 300 people — including media, industry professionals and select fans — perused exotic plant species and koi ponds. Guests, many wearing the rapper’s trademark “3” hat, sipped on signature drinks named for each of the rapper’s four releases (“Coloring Book,” “Acid Rap,” “10 Day,” and of course, “The Big Day”).

Not even a spin of “The Big Day” over the speakers was to be had in the two-hour lag before Chance and his entourage arrived for their 45-minute set.

Chance the Rapper performs Thursday night at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory.
Chance the Rapper performs on Thursday night at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago.
Anne Costabile/Sun-Times

The casually dressed Chance looked like he might have just come from a long session at the studio, though he debuted only one new track, an uplifting ode, called “Do You Remember,” which featured more of the hip-hop star’s straightforward singing style followed by rhymes that were a personal throwback to growing up in Chicago. The previously released new single, “GRoCERIES,” was also part of the set.

Chance the Rapper performs at an album release party at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory, Thursday, July 25, 2019.
Chance the Rapper performs at an album release party at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory on Thursday.
Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

Chance was his usually hyperactive self, running across the stage and jumping in beat to each track while encouraging the audience to do the same. Supported by his full backing band, including a horn section and four back-up singers, he crisscrossed through material from all his releases, including crowdpleasers “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” “No Problem” and oldie track “Brain Cells.”

He forgot the lyrics to the latter and smiled as the audience came through with a helping hand.

Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.

Set list for the concert:

  • “GRoCERIES”
  • “Summer Friends”
  • “All We Got”
  • “Favorite Song”
  • “Cocoa Butter Kisses”
  • “Brain Cells”
  • “Do You Remember”
  • “No Problem”
  • “Same Drugs”
  • “Blessings”

Track list for the album:

  • “All Day Long”
  • “Do You Remember”
  • “Eternal”
  • “Hot Shower”
  • “We Go High”
  • “I Got You (Always and Forever”
  • “Photo Ops (Skit)”
  • “Roo”
  • “The Big Day”
  • “Let’s Go on the Run”
  • “Handsome”
  • “Big Fish”
  • “Ballin Flossin”
  • “4 Quarters in the Black (Skit)”
  • “5 Year Plan”
  • “Get A Bag”
  • “Slide Around”
  • “Sun Come Down”
  • “Found a Good One (Single No More)”
  • “Town on the Hill”
  • “Our House (Skit)”
  • “Zanies and Fools”