With his boyish good looks and youthful demeanor, Chase Compton resembles a thug version of Justin Bieber. While the teen idol’s pop music propelled him to stardom, the Lawrence-based Compton is counting on hip-hop to bring him fame and fortune. Based on the head-turning quality of his free new mixtape “Elevated Preview,” Compton may very well see his dream fulfilled.
Compton, 18, has collaborated with Kansas City rapper Dutch Newman and has served as an opening act for Machine Gun Kelly and XV. His next big show is an opening slot for Asher Roth at the Granada on Nov. 15.
“(D)on’t judge me by my skin,” Compton implores listeners on “Elevated Preview.” Yet it’s almost impossible not to group him with other high-pitched rappers burdened with pigmentation deficiencies. His flow may be patterned on Kanye West, but Compton sounds like a white teen. Compton’s source material betrays a superior taste in music. “Elevated Preview” opens with a sample of Janelle Monae’s “Cold War.” He alludes to Machine Gun Kelly’s “Wild Boy” as he freestyles over Mike Jones’ 2004 hit “Still Tippin’.” “Destiny” uses the XX’s “Angels” as its intoxicating foundation.
The smoky psychedelia of Compton’s “West Side” is an audacious copy of the A$AP Rocky hit “Peso.” Compton raps over Kendrick Lamar’s “The Recipe” on “Recipe 420.” “Reflection 1994” is an imaginative rehash of Drake’s “Over My Dead Body.”
While he claims to be a “lyrical genius,” Compton’s worldview is largely limited to articulating his obsessions with his career. It’s hard to take his raps about paying dues, deferring dreams and cultivating an army of haters seriously. His suggestion that Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, The Game and even the late Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac have transferred their talents to him is laughable.
A few audaciously awful missteps don’t help his cause. Compton’s most unfortunate line — “she got back like Rosa” — is an unseemly comparison of a woman’s physical attributes to the actions of a leading figure of the civil rights movement. He also conflates his personal career aspirations with Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
Explaining that “this is only a preview,” Compton intends to release a modified version of the 33-minute “Elevated Preview” as a commercial release. The mixtape includes an extended monologue from a documentary on Mike Tyson. It’s appropriate he finds inspiration in Tyson’s fiery passion. Compton is a legitimate contender.