For my last post of the summer, a song that sounds like a sunny day, happy, relaxed, celebratory. It’s a hip hop song, not a genre I’m that familiar with, but I heard it on the radio (thanks, WFMO!) and found it irresistible. A few jazzy piano notes, then Chance the Rapper enters rhyming in a patiently explanatory voice while the instrumentation builds, handclaps, horns, and finally a female voice (Jamila Woods) breaks through to sing the supremely sway-able chorus:

     You gotta move it slowly,
     Take and eat my body like it’s holy.
     I’ve been waiting for you for the whole week,
     I’ve been praying for you, you’re my sunday candy.

The first time I heard the song I thought it was a hip hop cousin to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” carnal love expressed as religious sacrament. But then I listened again (thanks, Youtube!) and found it’s not that at all. Chance isn’t singing about a girlfriend, he’s singing about his grandmother:

     I got a future so I’m singing for my grandma
    You singing too, but your grandma ain’t my grandma!
    Mine’s is hand made, pan fried, sun dried
    Southside, beat the devil by a landslide…

“I got a future so I’m singing for my grandma”: what a nice thing for Chance to acknowledge, that part of the reason he’s made it this far is because of the support (financial as well as emotional–later in the song he’ll say she smells like “light, gas, water, electricity, rent”) his grandmother provided. But I also hear it as Chance saying that because he has a future, because he believes so confidently in his own future, he gives himself permission to sing a song about his grandmother. It doesn’t all have to be violence and the lure of fatalism and the struggle for respect…he will and should sing about those things, too, but for the moment, he just wants to say thanks to someone he loves.

Quotable lines abound. Chance tells us the only ones she loves as much as him are Jesus and Taylor. It’s probably not but I want that to be a reference to Taylor Swift. I love the image of his grandmother bopping around her Chicago apartment to “Shake It Off.” The peppermints she shares with him are “the truth”–what is it with old people and hard candy?–and her “hugs have a scent.” Chance himself is the “Sunday candy” of the title, his joining her for a visit to church a deep pleasure that combines 2 out of 3 of her great loves. The satisfaction she takes from him being there is almost enough to make Chance a religious man himself.

(On a personal note, my son’s away at summer camp right now and he’s  going to hate when I tell him I like this. He’s been talking about Chance the Rapper for over a year now and will feel like I’m encroaching on his favorites. Oddly I feel just the opposite way when I spot a Dylan or Talking Heads CD in his rack.)

See ya in September!