Single Review: Chance the Rapper – Child of God
Chance the Rapper has a chip on his shoulder. I say that not to begrudge him, but to acknowledge the obvious. The Big Day released in 2019 was the most disappointed I have been with an album release for an artist I love, ever. It sucked. But I want to take a leaf out of Chance’s Bible and forgive him. But what helps a lot with forgiving an artist you feel has let you down, is them reminding you why you loved them in the first place, and that’s what ‘Child of God’ nails.
This single is **fingers crossed** the start of Chance flicking the chip off that shoulder, and with help from his production staple figure Peter Cottontale, and a feature from the incredible Moses Sumney, he manages to really hit the mark of the warmth in song that is truly unique to him.
‘Child of God’ arrives with a simple but effective video, similar to ‘The Heart & The Tongue’ which he released around the same time last year on YouTube and was strong, but was without release on streaming platforms. It shows Chance around a home, with the centrepiece of a painter creating a large scale canvas work that will become the single’s cover. The video conveys visually what Chance is proving in song, rapping and writing with a high school exercise book throughout, with closeups on his mouth as he says the words, every single word is emboldened in white in the centre of the frame.
In short, he’s back with his words. How any rapper should be, and he wants you to know about it. It’s as though he’s checking himself in front of us, forcing himself to make each word count, and so unsurprisingly, they do.
“I try to break shackles, now they ankles in shambles”
The potency of his early works on Acid Rap, 10 Day and Colouring Book, his infamous feature on ‘Ultralight Beam’, they all confirm what he’s great at. When he’s not trying to make a bop, he’s right up in your ear and making you shake your head in disbelief at how true his words are, to him and to you.
The pre-chorus refrain “This world would make you second guess your first mind” tells an overwhelming but often hidden reality, and recognises a double-edged return to emotional infancy. In going back to your child self you are, shockingly, childish, but you are also shaking off the roughness of your age and jaded maturity and encouraging acknowledgement of that vulnerability, to know what it is to fail and to be hurt. Whilst Chance says this widely relative to being a ‘Child of God’, it resonates wholly with the universality of what gospel music can do and preach, and speaks of being unsure, making mistakes, but persisting. Keeping on keeping on and staying true to yourself, your child’s self.
Beautifully light timbres gently carry through the track, sunny synths, pattering bongos or congas, fluttering but firm electric piano and guitar all lay a soft bed for Chance’s verses to lie on, and provide the quiet but powerful strength his tracks are so able to tap into and that I’ve always loved. It’s paced exceptionally well, and the outro with Moses Sumney seals the deal for a truly blessed track. Chance is back. Let’s hope he carries on. Just do your thing.