When Chance the Rapper revealed in an interview last week he’d been working with everybody from Jessie Ware to Wyclef Jean, little did audiences know that both would be on the same track. Or that it would be a studio version of the Chicago MC/vocalist’s take on the long-running PBS children’s show Arthur, which he has been performing live. (Joining Ware and Wyclef here are Francis and the Lights, Elle Varner, Eryn Allen Kane, the O’my’s, Peter Cottontale and Donnie Trumpet.)
The animated program debuted in 1996, so older listeners wondering what this has to do with Dudley Moore may be best off just imagining the giddy wave of nostalgia that kicked in when, hypothetically, the themes from PBS shows like Reading Rainbow and 3-2-1 Contact became available over Napster (you see, that was how people got music for free before YouTube…). But any childhood associations aside, this pre-Lollapalooza reinvention is too jubilant and — in its multi-layered piano, percussion and vocal harmonies — sonically playful to brush off as generational stuff, especially when it breaks open with handclaps and horns; there’s something of the generous goopiness of Acid Rap‘s “Interlude (It’s Love).” Hey, “believe in yourself” beats “the best that you can do is fall in love,” anyway.
Chance has also said he’s working with James Blake, Boys Noize and J Cole, and that he has an EP penciled in with Childish Gambino. Ware’s new album, Tough Love, is due out later this year; listen to the smoldering, restrained “Share It All.” Chance also appears in our feature 14 to Watch in 2014.