Chance the Rapper graced Jimmy Fallon’s stage earlier this month with a great performance of his new single ‘Blessings’ ahead of his latest release, tentatively titled Chance 3. As always, his right hand man Niko (AKA Donnie Trumpet) stepped on stage with him along with talented vocalist Jamila Woods, who also featured on ‘Sunday Candy’, a talented gospel choir and gospel recording artist Byron Cage. The song is soulful and has heavy gospel influences. In fact it is a gospel song with zero cursing and the chorus “when the praises go up the blessings come down”.
The performance starts with soulful yet thin vocals from Jamila Woods as she sings “I’m gon’ praise him”, this is followed by a gospel inspired staccato keyboard progression. Then follows the simple swung groove on the drums, which drives the performance forward. Chance the Rapper comes in with his vocals, which are a little flat but entertaining none the less. The song screams Chance the Rapper, from the interwoven Donnie Trumpet melodies, to the repeated ad lib “QUICKA!”
The subject matter of this song is explicitly conscious, with lines like “I don’t make songs for free I make them for freedom”, “Jesus black life ain’t matter, I know I talked to his daddy, said you the man of the house now”, and “ they put the nicest hotels on the 59th floor, with the big wide windows and the suicide doors”. As Chance progresses as a musician, his increase in maturity seems to shine through in his subject matter. In terms of performance, the MC is very animated, busting out his trademark unique dance moves. The chemistry between Donnie Trumpet and Chance really comes through in this performance as Donnie quite majestically wraps his trumpet around Chance’s vocals, even being cued in at points, for example when Chance says “gave me a sword with a crest and gave Donnie a Trumpet ‘case I get shortness of breath”.
However, I can’t help but compare this with Chance’s performance alongside Kanye West on The Life of Pablo‘s opener ‘Ultra Light Beam’: from the choir down to the short sermon at the end of the performance, the only real difference is whereas Kirk Franklin’s appearance added something special to the performance of ‘Ultra Light Beam’, Byron Cage almost hindered the performance. The way he stepped out was awkward, his vocals weren’t on point and the way he moved was distracting. While I’m sure his presence touched other viewers, for me it seemed like a poor attempt at recreating a magical moment that Chance had been part of earlier this year.
But the man that needed to execute did in fact deliver and this performance has only added to my excitement for Chance 3. Chancellor Bennett, if you’re reading this, I can’t wait.
Josh is currently listening to ‘Numbers’ (Feat. Pharell) by Skepta