I know we’re late to the party on this one but we wanted to make sure there still aren’t people out there who are unaware of this musical masterpiece. Surf was released this past May with no notice. Although the album had been announced a year before, and it was continuously delayed, when it finally dropped, it dropped in the middle of the night as a complete surprise. While Donnie Trumpet and his band are incredibly smooth and tight, the real buzz surrounding this album was due to Chance the Rapper’s heavy involvement in the project. Chance doesn’t do things conventionally. He dropped a critically acclaimed mixtape in 2013 (Acid Rap) and blew up, drawing the eyes of the hip-hop community and sending record label execs scrambling to sign him. However, to this day he’s remained an independent artist. So with that being said, Chance the Rapper rapping with, and arranging, a neo soul, jazz-fusion band really isn’t that bizarre.
For those familiar with Chance the Rapper, there’s no need to convince you that his rhymes are beyond being on-point. He flows effortlessly on every track, going from slow and soulful to funky and upbeat at the drop of a hat. What really sets this album apart though is Donnie Trumpet’s band. They somehow managed to succeed where so many others have failed, and that is by making jazz-rap actually good and not some corny shtick your weird uncle listens to in an effort to be cool.
Like most rap albums nowadays, Surf is by no means short on features. Usually, in my opinion at least, they’re used as a crutch for weaker artists but in the case of Surf, the features are by no means a prop. These guests are nothing to shake a stick at either: Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Big Sean, J.Cole, B.O.B., Quavo, and the list goes on. With so many features on albums, you often feel like they’re enlisted just for the sake of having big names in parenthesis at the end of their track titles, but Donnie Trumpet & Co. genuinely make the most of their talents and use them to craft a cohesive piece, never feeling forced or disjointed.
Most refreshingly though is the nature of the songs. The songs are uplifting and meaningful, with actual messages, something that’s become all too rare in hip-hop. So for those of you who for some incomprehensible reason have yet to experience Surf by Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, do yourselves a favor and get it ASAP. The entire album is free to download on iTunes, so you have no excuses.
· “Slip Slide”
· “Sunday Candy”
· “Wanna Be Cool”
By: Roberto Henry, Music Contributor