Chance The Rapper simultaneously became the voice of a generation and one of, if not, the best rapper on the planet during the 2010s. Never has he signed a record deal, instead pursuing his music career as an independent artist and maintaining incredible streaming numbers without ever releasing an official album. Mixtapes are his main mode of distribution, which works in both his and his fan’s favor.
Among the hip hop community, few artists can match his intricate wordplay and poetic aesthetic. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 30 best songs Chance The Rapper ever released, with most of them being the tracks that cemented him among the hip hop pantheon of the modern era.
1. Acid Rain
Chance The Rapper had a real claim to being the best rapper alive in 2016, and it was Acid Rain that that argument could be built on. A hookless piece of poetry straight from the mind of an incredible lyricist, the song tells a fragmented story that anyone can relate to.
From the feeling of being unstoppable to the moments when we’re at our lowest, he was able to touch on them all, overcoming the demons in his mind to produce what might be one of the best stream-of-consciousness raps in history. It felt raw and plain, yet uniquely thought out and measured. Few artists will ever be able to achieve something that reaches anywhere near the heights of this track, which is what makes it the best song by him.
2. Cocoa Butter Kisses
Cocoa Butter Kisses was another incredible song that came from Chance The Rapper’s mixtape Acid Rap in 2013. Even today, it remains one of his most popular tracks, for good reason. The ability to fold church organs into the synthesizers in the song is nothing short of impressive, but it’s the lyrics that send the track over the top.
It describes the way the lifestyle of rappers and drugs force them to be away from their families because they would otherwise face disapproval. It even hits home with nostalgic lines about the rapper’s childhood, referencing Nickelodeon, having VHS tapes, and going to Chuck E. Cheese pizza.
3. No Problem
Chance The Rapper hasn’t just always been an independent artist, he hasn’t even released a true studio album with an independent publishing label. No Problem is the song that sums up his feelings for record labels, denouncing their very existence as well as their meddling ways. It’s a bit of a victory lap for the rapper, having made it without ever having a label backing his work.
It even saw Lil Wayne hop on the track with him, and the gospel choir made the song nearly a religious experience. Getting two Grammy nominations, one for Best Rap Song and one for Best Rap Performance, more than solidifies all the takes he lays out in the track and cements his legacy as one of the greats of hip hop.
4. Chain Smoker
Chain Smoker just might be the song where Chance The Rapper shows the world just how much control he has over his flow and lets it all hang out. Laid over an atmospheric soundscape, he goes in by pouring out his thoughts on paranoia, drugs, and his lifestyle, switching from braggadocious to waves of self-doubt in multiple portions of the song. Acid Rap was a tape that just hit differently, and it was tracks like this that gave it such a unique and incredible style.
5. All We Got
All We Got was released on Chance The Rapper’s third mixtape Coloring Book in 2016. Alongside the star-studded list of vocal samples included in the song, he brings in Kanye West and the Chicago Children’s Choir as backing vocalists.
Commercially, it debuted at number two on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 and spent two weeks on that chart. But it fared much better on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, debuting and remaining at number 45 there. It’s a track to listen to when you’re feeling down, and West’s layering in the production genius he’s been capable of for years only adds more to the song.
6. Brain Cells
Brain Cells is a song that sees Chance The Rapper go into his introspective mode over some smooth instrumentals. It was released on his early 10 Day mixtape and was one of the highlights of the collection. You can’t get three lines into the track without the intricate wordplay making you want to rewind and listen to the section of it again, dropping numerous references and layered metaphors throughout the runtime of the track.
It’s one of the best examples of his ability to craft engaging stories while playing with words the way a child puts shaped blocks into the right-shaped hole. It opens by stating “Here’s a tab of acid for your ear,” and the song more than delivers on that promise.
Angels was the lead single of Chance The Rapper’s 2016 mixtape Coloring Book. It just missed out on charting on both the Hot 100 and the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, but its commercial success wasn’t what would come to define the track.
Released for free on iTunes and Soundcloud, it dives into life in Chicago and the way he has become a leading figure of the youth movements in the city. From disparaging ineffective politicians to talking down to the record labels that he doesn’t need trying to control his music, he flames several different entities throughout the song while also talking about making meaningful change.
8. 22 Offs
Interestingly, the word “off” is only specifically used 19 times in the song, so technically he fell a bit short of the goal the title set. But, phonetically, the word appears more than 29 times in the form of words like awful, officer, and coffin. The track 22 Offs is a tribute to Jaÿ-Z’s 22 Two’s, a single from his debut album Reasonable Doubt.
The main focus of the song is a story telling the tale of an altercation between Chance The Rapper and the police. It doesn’t have a clear ending, leaving the story open, but that’s sort of expected since it describes him during a drug trip. The artistic choice, like cutting the track short, sends this one over the top for me.
9. Summer Friends
Summer Friends sees Chance The Rapper and fellow Chicago native Jeremih team up to trade bars about their respective experiences growing up on the South Side of the city. For most kids, summertime is about spending time with friends, enjoying life, and being free from school. But for them, their vacation was invaded by the reality of gun violence, drugs, and death.
It’s another song meant to try to motivate change in the communities he grew up in, using the idea of the friends who were killed in those summertime sprees of violence as being missed.
Mixtape is a blend of the best of Chicago rap and Atlanta trap energy. Chance The Rapper teams up with Young Thug and Lil Yachty to talk about what mixtapes in the future might look like. All the rappers there love the idea of free mixtapes and use it to have a deeper conversation about the music industry as a whole.
They see labels as having lost respect for free distribution, an idea that built many artists like the ones singing the song. Furthermore, the track stands as a conversation starter about the future of the music world and the way things used to be, arguing for a side that isn’t completely focused on money and more focused on making art.
11. Same Drugs
Same Drugs is an incredible song about the way Chance The Rapper and a girl he knew in his youth grew apart. The lines about doing different drugs now are a metaphor for the way their interests changed over time, so they no longer cared for the same things. It explores the themes of growing up and the loss of innocence and is full of nostalgic reflection. Even better, he uses the story of Peter Pan and the film Hook as an allegory to illustrate the way the two grew apart. And no, despite the title, the song is not actually about drugs.
Juice was the lead single of Acid Rap and was released at the beginning of 2013. Built on a loop of Donny Hathaway’s performance of Jealous Guy, the song comes off almost comedic. The verses are freewheeling and bluesy, almost like he’s freestyling to a crowd with call-and-response lines.
The track’s title comes from the 1992 film of the same name and mainly focuses on the pitfalls and problems that come along with being successful in life. It’s the goofiness that Chance The Rapper puts on display that makes this one of his best, unafraid of what anyone else may think about his stylistic delivery on this one.
13. All Night
Chance The Rapper’s rise to stardom was swift after Acid Rain was released. But along with success come new problems, which come faster than normal when you find fame overnight. All Night is a song that dives into a lot of those problems and was a prominent feature of the Coloring Book. It talks about the trust issues he developed as he realized new people in his life may just be there to take advantage of him. In the end, he just wants to have a good time and not be bothered by people asking for favors.
14. Favorite Song
Favorite Song is yet another amazing track from Acid Rain that saw Chance The Rapper rapping alongside Childish Gambino. The instrumentation of the track is strikingly happy and melodic. The lyrics focus on a great internal rhyme scheme that builds upon old 1800’s era operas. In the US, this one found great chart success, making it into the top 20 on both the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Sales chart and the Rap Digital Song Sales chart in 2013.
15. Israel (Sparring)
Chance The Rapper takes the opportunity to get biblical on all of his listeners in Israel (Sparring). There are numerous Old Testament references in the song, heavily relying on the account of Jacob from Genesis 32 as he travels back to Canaan.
The focus of the lyrics is a sparring match between Jacob (Israel) and the being that is ultimately referred to as an angel, a man, and even God himself in the passages. It’s used as a metaphor for the fights we go through in life, struggling against everyday problems, and trying to make a better way.
16. Sunday Candy
Sunday Candy was the first song to come from The Social Experiment’s project Surf. Chance The Rapper appears numerous times on the track, rapping and singing over bright instrumentation and thoroughly enjoying himself. It’s an ode to his grandmother, who was a pivotal person in his life, and it extolls the virtues of her personality and lifestyle. In the end, it can serve as the perfect song for showing love to anyone’s grandmother, but the personal touches that grace the track help push it up the list of his greatest works.
17. Blessings (Reprise)
Blessings (Reprise) was the fifth track on Coloring Book and serves as a testament to God, thanking him for raining blessings on the rapper’s life. It also talks about important social movements like Black Lives Matter and big events like the birth of his daughter.
The reprise version of the song comes later on the album and gives him time to reminisce on his rise to fame, his relationship with Kanye West, and his rise to become a social icon. It also features some beautiful harmonies from Ty Dolla $ign, Raury, Anderson .Paak, and more.
18. Pusha Man
These next two are a bit of a cheat, as both Pusha Man and Paranoia go hand-in-hand. Combined they sprawl over seven minutes and encapsulate Chance The Rapper as an artist. Pusha Man in particular dives into how far he’s come since he released 10 Day. The layered, intricate wordplay of the song flows off his tongue in a nimble and sophisticated way, showcasing the flow that’s made him one of the best, but the next part of the two-part switches things up.
Paranoia jumps in as one of the best songs Chance The Rapper has ever written. It serves as a report from the ground in Chicago, discussing the plague of gun violence that grips the city and how frustrating it is that things aren’t changing.
He is a poet before he is a rapper, and this rage-filled track sees him step outside of the jubilant persona he tends to lean into. It’s a major change that shows his frustration, anger, and pain. Perhaps the most poignant lines in the song come in when he says “They murder kids here, they deserted us here.”
20. I’m The One
I’m The One was a wildly popular DJ Khaled song that saw Lil Wayne, Chance The Rapper, Justin Bieber, and Quavo all hop on a single record together. It was released as the second single from DJ Khaled’s album Grateful in 2018 and eventually surpassed a billion streams on Spotify. It debuted atop the Hot 100 and became the first number-one single for DJ Khaled, Chance The Rapper, and Quavo as a solo performer, as well as the first hip hop single to achieve that feat since Eminem’s Not Afraid in 2010.
21. Prom Night
Prom Night is a true deep cut from Chance The Rapper. While it was included on 10 Day, he was recorded performing it at an open mic night long before then. It essentially recounts his own experiences on Prom Night and some from when he was in high school. The teachers playing down his rap career definitely turned out to be wrong, but the overall song retains a positive vibe thanks to the chorus repeating the phrase “It’s alright.”
Lost is one of the best examples of Chance The Rapper’s storytelling abilities. It tells the tale of a twisted and forbidden romance, with both parties realizing they aren’t ideal lovers but continuing because they crave the warmth the other provides. It served as a debut for Noname Gypsy and acknowledges the high that love gives your brain, comparing it to the way drugs also make you feel.
23. Ultralight Beam
Ultralight Beam was released by Kanye West on his studio album The Life Of Pablo in 2016. The song features several vocal appearances, with Chance The Rapper being among the most recognizable ones. Heavily reliant on the soul and gospel genres, the track talks about West’s faith in God. The “ultralight beam” the song describes is representative of the connection that goes straight to heaven.
The track was universally acclaimed by critics and was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2017. While it was never released as a single, it reached number 67 on the Hot 100 and number 22 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
24. Good Ass Intro
Good Ass Intro is a song you should listen to when you need a little pick-me-up. The song sees Chance The Rapper rolling through lines about how good he feels, how attainable his future goals are, and how confident he is in himself and his art. As per usual, it’s full of intricate wordplay and alliterations, but what else do you expect from such a talented rapper at this point?
25. Heaven Only Knows
Heaven Only Knows was released on Towkio’s album .Wav Theory in 2015. Despite not being involved, the production value of the song is reminiscent of Kanye West’s bright and soulful style, which makes sense with Chance The Rapper on the track. The chorus has sections interpolated from John Legend’s song Heaven. Chance The Rapper’s verse is sublime as always, leaving behind layered metaphors that warrant multiple listens to fully flesh out.
26. How Great
How Great opens with an uptempo gospel rendition of How Great Thou Art before diving into a praise rap from Chance The Rapper. It was a continuation of the overt religiousness of the Coloring Book, bringing up numerous historical references to rebellion and making positive change.
27. Juke Jam
Juke Jam is another one of Chance The Rapper’s songs that takes a look into his childhood. It references the style of dancing called juking that’s almost like grinding, a common occurrence at parties he attended growing up before he was old enough for relationships to reach a sexual level. The track from 10 Day is nostalgic, wonderful, full of great lines, and a testament to the rose-colored glasses of youth.
28. You Song
Lil Wayne had You Song ready to go, but decided to delay the release of the track to get Chance The Rapper involved with it. It’s about as close to a love song as you can get without truly being one, with universal themes and thickly-laid compliments.
29. Life Round Here (Remix)
Life Round Here was the most concrete evidence anybody ever got that Chance The Rapper and James Blake had a relationship. But that relationship and the interview quotes about the song don’t matter at all. There’s still plenty of witty wordplay, tempo changes, and incredible lines in this track. It mostly focuses on the differences between living in the UK and the US, as well as the things you miss when you’re away from home.
30. Somewhere in Paradise
Somewhere In Paradise is another great song that talks about Chance The Rapper’s rise to fame. Coming from his 10 Day collection, it marks another track he teamed up with Jeremih to record. The hook in the song comes from R. Kelly, which Chance The Rapper publicly apologized for after the Lifetime special on the former’s life exposed him. Not that it was necessary, the track slaps anyway, and the hook can be largely ignored.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.