Like most reviews, I spend my time composing my thoughts on albums, which could take days, maybe weeks. Hell, I personally felt my review of last year’s Ab-Soul album didn’t feel like it had a complete final consensus upon the end, but in the long run, I’m content with what I had to say, which follows suit with this summer’s release of Surf by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment.
“Wonderful Everyday” is the theme to the children’s show Arthur, which Chance made a cover of earlier this year. And that’s when Chance demonstrated maturity musically. Produced by The Social Experiment, it demonstrated promise for the group. People have built up this certain hype for his recently released Surf due to his involvement in the project.
The album offers a lot of interesting features, some of which are surprising while others are dope, per usual. His first track with features is “Slip Slide.” This track features Busta Rhymes and B.o.B in prime form, and as of recently, that should be seen as an overstatement for them. It is introduced by Busta Rhyme thanking Chance for the way he didn’t treat him like some other rapper who’s just there for the money (*Cough*Lil Wayne*Cough*). The instrumental begins rusty, but I tend to believe that was done on purpose. It has a very upbeat vibe, with a shake-yo-ass jazz sound. The track ends on a transition to a somber instrumental where Chance sings a deep outro.
Chance raps here and there (so don’t get your hopes up), but he balances it out with his singing on other tracks like “Windows,” and “Go.” The former sounds ominous and bleak in a weird way. I don’t like the track’s mixing, since it feels rusted-out for some lo-fi. “Familiar” is a great track that comes on later in the album. For the haters, like myself, I know you will want to hesitate on Quavo from Migos, because, well, it’s Migos, but he kills it. It’s hard for me to say that, trust me, but I firmly believe it this time. The track focuses on the idealistic image for women in today’s society that they deem normal, rather than being unique. Quavo’s style of ratchet rap and the women he must attract does fit the theme perfectly.
The album then transitions to a very ambient trumpet solo by Donnie Trumpet titled “Nothing Came to Me.” Later in the album, the track “Something Came to Me” plays an opposite tune, with Donnie’s trumpet getting backed by some low drum rhythms and apparent breaks, where the instrumental then switches its tempo and rhythmic patterns slightly.
The album seems to have suffered in the post-production. Some tracks sound rough and others are clean. “Windows” comes rough when the multiple layers become too complex near mid-track. “Caretaker” follows suit, with rough production evident under featured artist D.R.A.M.’s verse. The ambition kept it respectable, so I won’t hate it on much.
“Go,” featuring Jesse Boykins III, Mike Golden, and Joey Purp, as mentioned before, is a personal favorite. Mike Golden sings a soulful verse, while Joey Purp comes with a rap verse that is easily in the top three verses of this album. His flow is somber but with good pace that comes off natural. What I love about the track is how the tone switches in each verse. Mike Golden goes with an upbeat tone about leaving his girl, but Joey Purp raps about how his girl goes from gold digger to a cheater, and why she isn’t the girl Joey wanted, in hindsight, he sounds slightly irritated.
In reality, we’ve gone this far; you’ve noticed an abundance of Chance talk, and even though he only appears on half of the tracks on the album, he was one of the arrangers, alongside Donnie Trumpet.
On “Rememory,” Chance raps, “Take a break when I break my leg,” which I took as a way to say Chance will take a break when he’s put enough work for his actual LP. But as the verse actually starts, Chance weaves his person into the shoes of a man whose wife divorces him and takes everything. It ends with Erykah Badu laying a calming soulful verse to ease Chance. This track takes upon a personal story about Chance and his music, or that’s what I perceive it to be.
And when it comes to positivity, Chance knows how to exude it instrumentally and tonally. However, some tracks came in with either little force or smoothness. “Questions,” featuring Jamila Woods, who also appears on “Sunday Candy,” comes and goes without much thought. It’s repetitive and doesn’t have any oomph. “Go” had that problem in the hook, but for me that killed because of the delivery.
“Sunday Candy” instrumentally is the best I’ve heard come out of any Chance-led record. It clearly shows influence from gospel, soul, and hip-hop. It’s definitely a nice tribute to Chance’s grandmother.
While it’s not perfect—nor even close to phenomenal—the album has a lot to offer.
Here’s another treat:
I’m a sucker for non-linear storytelling. Add in snarky chapter titles, and I’ll sing praises about something until the day I die. “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” does...