For those unfamiliar, The Social Experiment is a musical collective comprised of Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet (born Nico Segal), Peter Cottontale, and Nate Fox. Many have been anticipating the release, eager for the Chicago rapper's follow-up to his 2013 breakout, Acid Rap.
But this is not that.
And that's certainly not a bad thing, as you'll understand from listening. This truly is Donnie's project, with the help of his bandmates, as his trumpet guides the sonic vibes of the release throughout -- and there are even a couple instrumental-only tracks.
Still, Chance appears on most, but not all, of the tracks. It really is a collective effort, though. There are a ton of features -- it's almost like a DJ Khaled album but with way more live instrumentation and way less shouting (OK, maybe not). But none of the features are listed on the iTunes release. So, if you need a little guide as you go along on your listening journey -- and that's totally acceptable -- we've got you covered.
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Chano appears throughout the album, on nine tracks in total, including on the opener, "Miracle."
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Bussa Buss is the surprising voice you'll hear at the opening of the album's second track, "Slip Slide." "Hey Mr. Chance the Rapper, I greatly appreciate the way you roll out the red carpet, allowing me to articulate myself, and now I stand on my own two," he says on the track's opening, before launching into his verse.
Bobby Ray raps alongside Busta on "Slip Slide" (Chance later serves up the outro), reflecting on his pre-fame days in his verse.
Chance helped introduce the world to NoName Gypsy with her appearance on "Lost," from 2013's Acid Rap, and she returned for an encore on Surf's "Warm Enough," where she kicks the opening verse.
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In addition to Chance and NoName Gypsy, Jermaine shows up on "Warm Enough." His rapid-fire flow rounds out the song, as he offers some classic Cole-isms about his own duality: "And you know n---as say that every coin got two sides/ Well, if you knew both mines, not sure you’d like what you find."
After the instrumental track "Nothing Came To Me," which comes in after "Warm Enough," the Chicago R&B hit-maker shows up to provide some melodic ad-libs for Chance's hook on "Wanna Be Cool."
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Sean Don helms the opening verse on "Wanna Be Cool," a song that proudly champions being yourself: "I was dropping fifties, man, to look like 50/ Rocking pink Polos, man, sh-t ain't even fit me/ Looking for the inspiration that's already in me/ All the confidence I was trying to buy myself/ If you don't like me, f--k it, I'll be by myself/ Spend all this time for you to say I'm fine/ I really should have spent it trying to find myself."
Following the theme of the song, Kyle raps the last verse of "Wanna Be Cool," and is totally cool with being himself: "OK, let's remember that shopping at Payless, it just means that you pay less/ It don't make you bae-less/ If you don't get retweets, it don't mean you say less, OK?/ So I'm gonna post that sh-tty ass selfie on IG/ I don't care if anybody likes it or likes me, it's cool."
Currently riding the success of his hit "Cha Cha," D.R.A.M. gets some solo shine on "Caretaker," where he's the only vocalist. The track appears after Chance's solo effort "Windows."
Following another track where Chance takes the reigns by himself, "Just Wait," fellow Chicago native Louie joins him on "Familiar."
The melodic, key- and horn-laden "Familiar" isn't necessarily the kind of track we're used to hearing the Migos member on, but he stays true to his style, with lines like, "Heard she chasing after my dollar/ Hit the bucket from the back make her holler."
Though it clocks in at under two minutes, "SmthnthtIwnt" still gives Chicago native Saba ample time to flex his lyrical chops, which he does with audible ease on the solo track.
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Chicago is still in the building on the next track, "Go," as singer Jesse Boykins III offers a soulful verse over the funky beat.
Coming in after Boykins III's crooning, Joey brings a rap flavor to the track with his closing verse.
We heard Chicago native (seeing a pattern here?) Jamila sing the hook on the previously-released "Sunday Candy" (which is the penultimate track on Surf), and we hear her earlier on, too, on "Questions," where she shows off her pipes on her own as the only voice we hear on the song.
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After a verse by Chano, Erykah enters by singing a couple of calming lines to close "Rememory": "Young man/ Lay, lay your head down/ Tell me of your day/ Rememory you'll say/ Chancellor, baby, you're uneasy/ I can tell, but in your way you're on your way/ Rememory, you're safe."