Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s Surf is the quintessential summer album- a feel good romp through island vibes spearheaded by frontman Chance the Rapper.
Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment is a band highlighted by Chance on vocals as well as Donnie Trumpet. Unfairly thought of by many as mostly a Chance the Rapper side project, Trumpet does his far share of contribution despite his lead singer drawing most of the attention. His use of the well, trumpet, is something that seems to compliment Chance’s high-energy style of vocalization better than any other sound. Surf is at its best when both of these artists play off each other’s strengths, creating great harmony in the process.
The album is split into two kinds of tracks- those that Chance the Rapper appear on and those in which Donnie Trumpet takes center stage, usually being jazz instrumentals.
The most memorable moments of the LP are by far the ones that feature heavy emphasis on Chance. His trademark infectious energy is put on full display here, making tracks not only superb-sounding but fun to listen to as well. These’s just a great aura of positivity surrounding most of these songs and you’ll want to throw wild rooftop parties just to hear them in the setting they seemed to be made for. A lot of that feeling is due to the high level of emotion Chance uses at every corner. Anytime he’s given the chance (no pun intended) to have his voice heard, he uses that time to form a strangely strong connection with the listener, selling himself as an artist who has a genuine want to create meaningful music. Highlights of these Chance-centric songs include “Slip Slide”, “Wanna Be Cool”, and “Familiar”. The subject matter on each is also ripe with cheeriness, with a central focus on various forms of social acceptance. These tracks and others include heavy use of guest rappers, but they’re all welcomed additions and pick up on the light tones of the album. Artists like Big Sean, Busta Rhymes, and KYLE seem to truly be having a great time while recording their verses, further pushing the listener to buy into the good vibes.
To counter the insane amount of excitement most of the “Chance tracks” bring, Donnie Trumpet’s solo-focused songs take a step back and provide a moment of calming relaxation. But while Trumpet is a technically good player, the melodies his trumpet shoot out aren’t captivating enough to warrant a second listen. After a few of these songs its obvious as to why Chance gets most of the credit in the group, but Donnie still provides a sonically great backdrop for every song.
Surf manages to entertain in almost every area you’d want an album to and has a distinct charm to it you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. But while some tracks shine, others falter a bit in comparison. Nonetheless, the songs that shine do so in an incredibly bright manner, raising the LP to a highly memorable state in the process. It’s meant to be played on beaches, vacations and parties so do yourself a favor this summer and give it a few spins.