The Man Who Has Everything // Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper is a busy dude. Whether he’s working on collabs, hanging out with Kanye West, or donating $1,000,000 to Chicago public schools, the man always seems to have a few projects in the works. I’m sure we’re all hopeful that one of these current projects is an upcoming album, but until that proves to be true, I want to revisit one of his best singles of the last year: “The Man Who Has Everything.”
“The Man Who Has Everything” shows Chance in a contemplative, mournful tone, a change of pace from his usual buoyant, bubbly attitude. His rhymes are hushed and confessional, like he’s having a (somewhat one-sided) conversation with the listener. It feels like Chance rolled up to the studio, kicked back on a couch, and just started speaking from the heart. This contributes to the hints of 10 Day Chance throughout this song, found in its stream-of-conscious storytelling and stripped-back elements which place Chance front and center. Not too much thought went into the bars here — well, let me rephrase that — not too much overthinking went into the bars. There’s a bread-and-butter simplicity to them: Just talented, mature, thoughtful rapping.
The instrumental shares the low-key, minimal style of Chance’s bars. It’s a simple, straightforward sample that’s mostly a loop, but it doesn’t get boring over its three-and-a-half minutes. Similar to Chance’s lyrics, the beat isn’t over-thought at any point. It’s substantial as is, and anything more would likely pull attention away from Chance and his thoughts. The beat establishes the laid-back, nostalgic mood well, mellowing out the musical space and giving Chance an unobtrusive rhythm that puts the emphasis on his bars.
“The Man Who Has Everything” is loosely a Christmas song, if only in the way Die Hard is a Christmas movie. The song’s refrain, “What to get the man who has everything,” asked of Chance by his father, references Christmas shopping, as do some other lines. But “The Man Who Has Everything” is about a lot more than that; Chance addresses materialism, faith, family, racism and more, all while avoiding an overly preachy or self-serious tone. At one point, he playfully backpedals his dislike of the size of his mansion by conceding, “Well, we’ll keep the elevator.”
Still, “The Man Who Has Everything” is an interrogative, thought-provoking track. He describes being stopped by police with his hands in the air with vivid brushstrokes: “One of these random police stops / Look like the tree tops / Soon as the breeze stops.” Clearly, even as a multimillionaire global superstar, Chance still isn’t immune to institutional racism. There’s no shortage of food for thought here — “The Man Who Has Everything” is one of Chance’s most honest and nuanced social critiques to date.
Chance has had a busy year or so. He’s developed a musical, involved himself in Chicago politics, and judged a Netflix competition, to name just a few. With these side projects in mind, it’s uncertain when we’ll get another album from Chance. However, between the six abstract-shape-cover-art singles he released towards the end of 2018, he’s given us more than enough content to tide us over.