Chance the Rapper Just Released the Album We've All Been Waiting For — And It's Amazing

Surf is finally here.

After a long wait of over two years, Chance the Rapper, Chicago's quirkiest and most exciting MC, released his highly anticipated new project by surprise early on Friday morning. Though Surf is not even technically a Chance album — it's led by Donnie Trumpet, the trumpeter in the Social Experiment and relies on an array of high profile guests — it is the perfect distillation of Chance's feel. It's bright, summery and free to download from iTunes right now. Your weekend just got the perfect soundtrack.

Source: YouTube

For a free album, Surf has incredibly high production values. Chance doesn't appear on all the tracks, and when he does his voice feels more like a treat than the main course. He's more like the master of ceremonies, but it's a job he does well. All the tracks have an incredibly organic and spontaneous energy to them; every cut sounds like it was a joy to record. 

Hip-hop and R&B's greats come out in force to show support for the Chance camp. On the second track alone, B.o.B., BJ the Chicago Kid, Busta Rhymes and Janelle Monaé all make an appearance, according to Spin. Big Sean appears up on "Wanna Be Cool," J. Cole spits on "Warm Enough" and Migos' Quavo flexes on "Familiar." Erykah Badu lends her rare and sultry vocals to "Rememory," and Francis Starlite of Francis and the Lights, Jamila Woods, Noname Gypsy and Raury also all make appearances. None of these names are credited on the iTunes tracklisting. It's all just Chance's magical social experiment.

"Every record has like 50 people on it," Chance explained to Fader in January. "The idea is to make a singular, four-minute-and-30-second song that feels like a year's worth of music." Surf's tracks absolutely do.

Source: YouTube

Sharing the limelight. It's a minor revolution that an artist with as much clout as Chance the Rapper would cede his moment in the spotlight — earned in large part with the stellar mixtape Acid Rap — to cut a record as a supporting member of Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. But defying the norm is part of Chance's mission.

"I can do whatever I want," Chance told Billboard last October, detailing his insistence on remaining independent. "And I've got to really flex that unlimited capability of an independent artist. I can do whatever videos I want, I can play whatever shows I want, I can release when I want, talk how I want, freely about any subject. I have a certain responsibility and I feel like conforming to the mixtape to mixtape to album rule would just defeat the whole purpose of not signing [with a major label]."

The Social Experiment's Surf feels like a true artistic statement of freedom. It's free musically, relying on live instrumentation and spontaneity more than programmed beats and rhymes; free conceptually, from expectations about what a breakout hip-hop star should do with their buzz; and free literally on iTunes. It points to some exciting new horizons for independent artists, exemplifying the fresh work they can create with their freedom. Happy summer, and happy surfing.

h/t Pitchfork

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tom Barnes

Tom Barnes is a senior staff writer at Mic focused on music, activism and the intersection between the two. He's based in New York and can be reached at tom@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale

'Han Solo' director Ron Howard recalls his first 'Star Wars' experience

The veteran filmmaker revealed 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas was talking about it as early as 1972.

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale

'Han Solo' director Ron Howard recalls his first 'Star Wars' experience

The veteran filmmaker revealed 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas was talking about it as early as 1972.