Where: Europa Night Club
When: June 15, 2013

The kid standing in front of me last night at the Chance The Rapper show was singing every word, standing on a table flailing his arms, and spinning around while rapping along in the faces of anyone who would pay him any attention. He was tall but lanky, a clean-cut, white, 20-something-year-old with a friendly face and a collared shirt. To me, the person directly behind this kid, he was borderline obnoxious, but he was having so much damn fun that it was impossible to hate. This kid was almost certainly not at the Chief Keef show in New York a few weeks ago. If we was, he was acting a lot differently.

It’s hard to say if Chief Keef was having fun when he hit the stage at the Best Buy Theater. He’s engaging, but for reasons far different from what makes a Chance show so enjoyable. Keef strutted with 10-15 other guys on stage with him, rarely interacting with the audience and coming across as somewhat uninterested. Chance held down his show solo, with one DJ to back him up. He walked to the stage like a boxer getting pumped up for a big fight. He encouraged everyone to sing along. He even taught the audience a couple of dance moves.

Hip-hop is in a dark place right now. That’s not a bad thing—plenty of the best art is dark—but it does get tiring when so many of the popular sounds are heavy and zombied out. Seeing Chance was a much-needed change of pace because it looked and sounded like he was having fun. His voice bubbled over with the excitement of a young artist happy to be in the position he’s in and more than willing to let his fans join the party. Last night in New York City, his fans were happy to accept the invitation.

Download Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape here.