Should Chase Compton continue to rap? (Yes)

I assume Chase Compton has an outrageous number of haters. The reasons for this assumption are threefold. The first is that he can’t stop talking about how many haters he has. Compton just released a mixtape entitled “Elevated Preview,” the overall theme of which is his battle against doubters. The second reason is that people are predisposed to hating on rich white-boy rappers, and that’s exactly what Chase Compton is. We want to hate him before we ever hear the music.

The third reason is that Chase Compton is legitimately talented, and if he weren’t, nobody would bother hating on him.

I should back up a minute. Compton, if you don’t know, is the son of Lawrence, Kansas real estate mogul Doug Compton. Anybody not from Kansas reading this will laugh at that sentence, but chances are very high that if you lived in Lawrence for any significant period of time, you lived in a property owned by Doug Compton. He is one of the biggest names in the city, and one of its wealthiest citizens. He has zebras. One of his sons is a video coordinator for the Kansas basketball team. The other is Chase, who is 18 years old.

This, I imagine, has done nothing but accelerate the number of so-called “haters” in Chase’s life. There’s the basic jealousy, and on top of it a lot of people hate their landlords. Your first instinct is to go, “Oh sure, Doug Compton’s kid thinks he’s a rapper. This should be hilarious.”

And then you listen to the music and … by golly, he’s good. He’s very good.

Well, talented. He’s talented. If “Elevated Preview” is an indication of where he is as an artist, then he still hasn’t found his voice. He sounds like a rapper, his songs are well produced, his lyrics are creative and interesting and he can certainly ride a beat.

But there is a certain tone-deafness to this mixtape that’s hard to overlook. It begins on the intro track, which ends with a clip from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. The words themselves fit nicely into a rap album about dreaming, but the implication that Compton’s “struggle” is in any way analogous to MLK’s is the stuff facepalms are made of.

So that tells you where we’re headed with this mixtape.

The best song on it is “Cold War,” which includes the line, “Don’t judge me by my skin, judge me by my wins. Judge me by my nows, but never by my thens.” Thematically, the song is about the coldness of the world, and the song is genuinely good. But when you know some of the biographical information about the rapper, lines like “I got the keys to my city like a dealership” only remind you that Chase Compton literally does have access to more keys in the city of Lawrence than anybody else.

Later, Chase raps that he has “lost some homies to boozin’,” which nobody is going to believe, even if it’s true.

The tape reaches its greatest heights, as you would expect, in its moments of greatest honesty. When Chase raps, “No diploma. Poppa pissed but he won’t show it,” we all believe that. There’s another line about how he couldn’t do an office job.

In these moments, he taps into a generational sentiment. Ours is the generation that does not want to make a living by traditional means. We are the “How To Make It In America” generation. The “extended adolescence” generation. We want to start T-shirt companies or build snowboards. Anything but work for the man and buy a 3/2 with a picket fence.

Every single one of us thinks we’re special, and Compton is at his best when he’s swimming along that vein.

The rhetorical thrust of “Elevated Preview” is mainly a justification for the existence of “Elevated Preview,” and that’s actually a good thing. It is an attempt to convince the listener that this needed to happen (against all odds). This is a sentiment the Millennial Generation intuitively understands, and in that way the mixtape is a success.

Compton is only 18, so I suspect he will find his voice with more clarity in future efforts. He’s on the right path, but nobody wants to hear Martin Luther King introduce a mixtape by a rich white kid from Kansas.

And if that makes me a hater, well, I guess I’m not surprised.

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