Chance The Rapper had one of the most active years of his career this last year, his mixtape Coloring Book taking off when it was dropped. Jeremih also saw a great year, his fourth record Later That Night gathering a lot of attention. To end of the year, the two have come together for the surprise mixtape Merry Christmas Lil' Mama.
As is with any project Chance is involved in, this is a pretty laidback mixtape. Drive comes in the form of subtlety and light beats, the instrumentals and delivery really being the main components of the record. The soothing resonation of 'Snowed In' at the beginning of the record is the first indicator of what this record has to offer. Jeremih sings sweetly with autotuned vocals supporting him Bon Iver style. The first third of the track is entirely a cappella, beautifully progressing along until a light beat kicks in with bells clicking to spread some Christmas cheer.
The chillness of the record does get a bit overdone, however. That was one problem that I personally had with Coloring Book - its whole mood got old pretty quickly. As a result, this album transitions from promising to pretty average quite quickly. 'I'm Your Santa' is able to own the chill mood, but everything from beyond that point, including 'I Shoulda Left You' doesn't really do the mixtape much justice.
There are a couple of missed opportunities on Merry Christmas Lil' Mama. One such thing is the principle of the tape itself seems to be lost at points: this isn't the kind of Christmas album you'd really be wanting to listen to to get in the Christmas mood. The themes of the holiday are largely chalked up to the overused messages about sex and all that jazz, while other songs just don't feel inspired; while it's a solid ending to the tape, 'Merry Christmas Lil' Mama' is essentially three minutes of listening to "Merry Christmas lil' mama" over and over again. The opening track 'All The Way' is also pretty unfortunate; the sample from A Christmas Story is nostalgic while the entire track doesn't do much to bounce on that opportunity. This song has the most pop-hip-hop vibe on the tape, and it's not done that interestingly, either.
Chance The Rapper and Jeremih's surprise mixtape Merry Christmas Lil' Mama is a nice treat for fans to take out the year, but it's nothing special. It's much more mixed than Coloring Book (but not Later That Night), but still feels like it could use more to take it that extra step further. Perhaps we'll see some new music from the two artists in the coming year that will really make some magic happen.
Favorite Tracks: Snowed In, Chi Town Christmas
Least Favorite Tracks: All The Way, I'm Your Santa
Rating: 70 / 100