Chance the Rapper, with his signature cap and boundless energy, is more than just another rapper from Chicago, he’s become a symbol for the independent rap movement . Kicking things off with 10 Day , a project inspired by a high school suspension, he gave listeners a raw glimpse into his world, only to dive deeper with the kaleidoscopic sounds of Acid Rap .
By the time he delivered the gospel-infused Coloring Book , it was clear that Chance wasn’t just here to rap; he was here to shift paradigms. Beyond his musical prowess, what stands out is his unwavering commitment to independence. No major labels, no over-the-top contracts, just pure music directly from his heart to our ears. This isn’t just about dropping beats without a label; it’s about redefining success on one’s own terms. In a world where signing on the dotted line was seen as the ultimate goal, Chance flipped the narrative, proving that authenticity and hard work can shine brighter than any record deal.
So let’s get into it. From his debut mixtape, 10 Day , to the groundbreaking Coloring Book and his official album The Big Day , we rank every Chance the Rapper album, from worst to best.
The Big Day
Released: July 26, 2019
Singles: “Do You Remember”, “Hot Shower”
Features: John Legend, Death Cab for Cutie, Smino, MadeinTYO, DaBaby, En Vogue, Ari Lennox, Kierra Sheard, Taylor Bennett, CocoRosie, Francis and the Lights, Knox Fortune, Megan Thee Stallion, Gucci Mane, Shawn Mendes, Randy Newman, Calboy, Lil Durk, Nicki Minaj, SWV, Pretty Vee
As Chance’s formal introduction into the studio album realm, The Big Day was met with a divided reception. Compared to the brilliant introspection of Acid Rap and the delightful gospel-rap fusion of Coloring Book , Chance’s debut album took a decidedly different direction. Its core revolves around the themes of love and commitment, but for many long-time fans, it seemed to lack the depth and authenticity that had previously defined Chance’s work. More than anything, the project felt rushed. Despite boasting an A-list roster of collaborations — from Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion and Gucci Mane to Death Cab for Cutie, Francis and the Lights and Shawn Mendes — hinting at Chance’s mainstream aspirations, The Big Day is often viewed as a moment where artistic evolution might have ventured too far from the roots.
Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama (Jeremih)
Released: December 22, 2016
Taking a slight detour from his usual path, Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama saw Chance the Rapper link up with R&B crooner Jeremih to gift the hip-hop and R&B communities with a holiday tape that, honestly, was long overdue. While most of the hip-hop world is content dropping singles for the holiday season, these two Chi-town kings cooked up a whole project. Blending Chance’s ever-infectious optimism with Jeremih’s silky smooth vocals, the project gave us tracks that ranged from the celebratory to the contemplative. Let’s keep it a buck: this wasn’t just a gimmick; in an era where holiday music can feel a tad repetitive, Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama was a much-needed breath of fresh Chi-Town air in the festive season.
Free (Based Freestyles Mixtape) (with Lil B)
Released: August 5, 2015
When you talk about hip hop collaborations that no one saw coming, Chance the Rapper teaming up with the elusive Lil B for Free (Based Freestyles Mixtape) is a prime example. On paper, it’s a head-scratcher: Chicago’s golden child linking up with the BasedGod? Yet, in practice, this mixtape was pure hip-hop alchemy. Unscripted, raw, and fiercely independent, this project was a testament to the power of free expression and unconstrained creativity. Chance, known for his intricate lyricism, juxtaposed against Lil B’s more abstract, stream-of-consciousness style created a mixtape that wasn’t just tracks—it was a vibe. Though it doesn’t perhaps have the cultural weight of Chance’s other projects or the meme-filled impact of Lil B’s previous work, Free was a moment.
Released: April 3, 2012
Features: Alex Wiley, Akenya Seymour, Vic Mensa, Sulaiman, Nico Segal, Lili K., Peter Cottontale
Ah, 10 Day , the mixtape that started it all for Chance. Spitting bars while on a 10-day suspension from high school, young Chance set the groundwork for his inevitable ascent in the hip-hop world. Let’s take it back: before the Grammys and festival headlines, there was this raw, undiluted passion emanating from every track on this project. Drenched in Chi-Town ethos, it was a crystal-clear signal that the Windy City had a new prodigy in its midst. From tracks like “22 Offs” to “Prom Night,” Chance wore his heart on his sleeve, dropping verses that reflected the triumphs and struggles of his adolescent life. What’s ill about 10 Day is how it isn’t just about youthful exuberance, but a testament to Chance’s keen observational skills and a prelude to his future innovative sounds.
Released: May 13, 2016
Singles: “Angels”, “No Problem”, “Summer Friends”
Features: Kanye West, Chicago Children’s Choir, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Jeremih, Francis and the Lights, Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Saba, Justin Bieber, Towkio, T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Kane, Noname, Ty Dolla Sign, Raury, BJ the Chicago Kid, Anderson .Paak
Coloring Book , a beacon of optimism in the midst of a hip-hop landscape often draped in gritty realism. When this tape dropped, it was like Chance decided to paint the whole scene with a spectrum of vibrant colors. Gospel-infused tracks like “All We Got” and “Blessings” showcased a Chance who was stepping into his spiritual awakening, reminding everyone that rap and reverence could coexist. Collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz? Certified heat. But it’s tracks like “Same Drugs” where Chance truly flexes, offering a nostalgic reflection, an ode to the past, and the ever-evolving nature of relationships. Coloring Book wasn’t just an album; it was an artistic statement, a declaration of independence from major labels, and a manifesto for a brighter, more hopeful vision of hip-hop. For real, it’s no hyperbole to say that with this project, Chance reshaped the boundaries of independent artistry, laying down a marker for what was possible both musically and industry-wise.
Released: April 30, 2013
Singles: “Juice”, “Acid Rain”
Features: BJ the Chicago Kid, Nate Fox, Lili K., Nosaj Thing, Vic Mensa, Twista, Noname, Saba, BJ the Chicago Kid, Childish Gambino, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul
A psychedelic whirlwind of lyricism and vibrant production that positioned Chance the Rapper as a major force in the 2010s renaissance. From the jump, “Good Ass Intro” set the tone, announcing a youthful exuberance that the game had been craving. By the time you hit joints like “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Juice,” it was clear: this wasn’t just rap, it was a kaleidoscopic journey through Chicago’s streets, infused with memories of past loves and future aspirations. And who could forget “Pusha Man”? A two-part epic that painted a stark juxtaposition of summer fun and the lurking shadows of street violence. With Acid Rap , Chance deftly balanced the scales of introspection and buoyant, almost jubilant sonics, encapsulating the very soul of a city, its beauty, its pain, and its undying spirit. This project wasn’t just a mixtape; it was an era, a watershed moment, and for many, the soundtrack of a generation. It solidified Chance’s place not just as a rapper, but as a visionary and innovator in a constantly evolving hip-hop narrative.