Taylor Bennett released the title track for his forthcoming album, Broad Shoulders, on Nov. 19, featuring his brother Chance the Rapper.
When first hearing the song, it’s easy to be unsettled by the two brothers’ nearly identical voices. The child-like quality of Chance’s sound has blended with Bennett’s, but it’s unclear whether the effect is natural or manufactured. Bennett maintains the raw quality and incorporates the sing-song cadence of his brother. However, Taylor Bennet diverges from his brother with the machine-gun tempo that he spits. While Taylor Bennett can rap quickly, he lacks the vocal range that his brother so clearly possesses. However, this is an unfair comparison, as Chance’s eccentric vocal repertoire and has become a trademark.
The production of “Broad Shoulders” relies heavily upon the piano, drawing comparisons to “Sunday Candy,” the lead single off of Chance’s Surf. The message of the song belongs in similarly reflective territory. While trading verses with his brother, Taylor describes his childhood with the more famous Bennett and the transition into adulthood. A particularly resounding line comes during the hook, as Taylor sings, “See what you’re shown / Watch it get old / Watch, it gets old.” Where Chance typically espouses the warmth of childhood memories, Taylor recognizes the staleness with which modern hyperactive minds often treat them. Still, rather than sprint toward the future, the two brothers find comfort in treading down memory lane.
Taylor Bennett has also released “Happy Place,” another track from his upcoming album. To put it bluntly, the song could have been ripped straight from Acid Rap, or perhaps more accurately, 10 Day. “Happy Place” is a high-school party anthem, all about finding solace from the world in dance–filled, alcohol–infused occasions. It’s fun, sure, but it doesn’t provide a unique listening experience for Chance fans. For those unfamiliar with Chance’s work, these songs could be deemed a fresh take on over-trodden rap styles.
When juxtaposing the two brothers and their respective work, it can be easy to dismiss his brother as an imitator, or a rapping Ashlee Simpson (not to put Jessica Simpson’s musical career on any type of pedestal). However, it’s clear that Taylor has talent and plenty of it. His incredibly similar voice suggests he’s copying his brother, but, after all, they’re brothers, so one cannot know if he can even help sounding so similar. Consequently, it’s quite difficult to come to any sort of conclusion on the matter. Their similarity is why it’s so key for Taylor — instrumentally, thematically and stylistically — to drift apart from his brother. Otherwise, he will always be living in Chance’s shadow, trading verses with someone who sounds just like him and has accrued a much larger fan base.
If Chance the Rapper didn’t exist, then Taylor Bennett’s music would be considered an interesting, albeit unfulfilled work. However, Chance does exist, rendering Taylor’s uninspired. Had he diverged stylistically, “Broad Shoulders” would be an exciting addition to the Bennett family music discography, but he hasn’t, and his work has suffered for it.