Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment: Surf [no label download, 2015]
At a moment when conscious rap has never had more reason to be militant, Chance the Rapper, his man with a horn, and friends near and far count their blessings, to borrow an idiom one Saba invokes immediately before his uncle on house arrest dies in his sleep. Not by chance does Chance lead with one called "Miracle," because the title ain't no joke--the mood does in fact recall the Beach Boys of, say, six months before Pet Sounds and 60 years before Cali turned firetrap. Like Broken Social Scene with more swing and deeper soul, most of these young adults are making decent livings making good music, quite a few are better off than that, and all of them are so glad about it they infuse even their warnings about open windows and Migos videos with an airy lyricism that evokes Digable Planets, PM Dawn, and Jon Hassell himself. This is an album where Big Sean and B.o.B. reflect separately and ruefully on their high school careers, where Erykah Badu plays den mother and sage, where Bustah Rhymes figures "This whole planet belongs to me/We all feel the same so it belongs to we," where I haven't even mentioned the should-be hit. It's called "Sunday Candy" and it comes at the end. A