Concert Review

Chance The Rapper Gave a Hip-Hop Sermon at Mesa Amphitheatre

Chance the Rapper is a unique voice in hip-hop.

At the young age of 23, Chance the Rapper's talent is really only surpassed by his likability, as the Chicago-based artist often promotes positivity and spirituality. The rapper has been working hard this year. He released Coloring Book earlier this year to near-unanimous critical acclaim, and his Magnificent Coloring Book Tour had him spreading his gospel-infused music across the globe. He has visited nearly everywhere except Phoenix, it seems. After two canceled performances, Chance finally brought his traveling urban sermon to the Mesa Amphitheater Friday night to close out the tour.

Accompanied by his band, The Social Experiment, Chance hit the ground running with his hit single "Angels (feat. Saba)." Chance hypnotized the sold-out crowd, bringing energetic dance moves as he ran, jump, and slid back and forth across the stage. Drawings of angels, crosses, and Chance’s “3” logo flashed on a giant screen in the background as he sang and rapped to the crowd.

Chance’s vocals rang like a preacher as he spoke to the sold-out audience. In fact, the entire event sort of felt like a modern day, hip-hop-infused sermon, as Chance would touch on themes of love and faith. Songs from his new effort, Coloring Book, certainly lent to that vibe, as tunes like “Blessings” feel like they could have been created in your local Baptist church. This vibe only strengthened when Chance performed his verse from “Ultralight Beam,” the opening song from Kanye West’s most recent album, The Life of Pablo. The entire experience felt like a hip-hop megachurch, like every other megachurch but with a much more liberal use of the N-word. The packed house opened their arms to the uplifting melodies as Chance made sure to have them sing along at any given opportunity. Chance’s cool and personable demeanor made it that much easier for the people of Mesa Amphitheatre to absorb his heartfelt lyrics.

Older songs, like “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Favorite Song” from his previous effort, Acid Rap, satisfied longtime followers of Chance, while newer songs like “Mixtape” and “No Problems” excited the fans that are just coming around to Chance’s sound. Chance took the time out to showcase the members of The Social Experiment, as Peter Cottontail jammed on the keyboard, and Nico Lang (formerly known as Donnie Trumpet) belted out his signature soulful refrains on the trumpet. Chance closed out the night by playing the piano himself for a rendition of “Same Drugs,” capping off the song with a shower of confetti.

Critic's Notebook

Last Friday Night: Chance The Rapper at Mesa Amphitheatre

Overheard: “I didn’t know he could play the piano!”

Crowd: The majority of the crowd was white and under the age of 23.

Random Notebook Dump: The amount of white people singing out the N-word is kind of alarming.
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Jaron is a musician, writer, promoter, videographer, and a founder of the like-minded collective and movement known as Starstruck.
Contact: Jaron Ikner