Album cover of people sitting together in greytones with yellow lettering.

Local Review: You Ever Contemplated The Orcas? – Chance Lewis and Donnie Bonelli


Chance Lewis and Donnie Bonelli
You Ever Contemplated The Orcas?

Street: 12.02.2022
Chance Lewis and Donnie Bonelli = Rejjie Snow + A Tribe Called Quest + Mac Miller

The best way to begin a conversation is with a creatively worded question. Chance Lewis and Donnie Bonelli throw out a seemingly silly inquiry to their audience—they ask if you’ve ever thought of the whales. Cloaked in humor and riddle-like mystery, these masters of the ceremony bring forth a project that uses inspiration from jazz, East Coast rap, psychedelic funk, and classic rock. The mass of power that these two artists can conjure together is more than majestic. It’s not every day you find musicians who are local to Salt Lake who can highlight and project the feeling of the state through rap. I feel as though I found a hidden gem in this pair of creatives native to Utah, who not only explore the genre but take the time to include a myriad of different styles in their work. You Ever Contemplated the Orcas? stands out as a refreshing and lively album that will impress even the snobbiest of hip-hop heads. 

In a concise seven tracks, Lewis and Bonelli pull the spectators of the Salt Lake music scene into their idea of a modern, metropolitan, and material world. One can audibly hear the light bouncing off of the glass panes and gleaming exteriors of our edifices. Throughout the piece, one feels enveloped in the brick-and-mortar playground infamously known as The City. The opening song “Big Cottonwood (feat. Rick Bonnelli)” describes the picturesque landscape of Salt Lake Valley featuring its glowing greenery and mountains that collide with the sky. It also nods to the theme of climate change within the project by referencing the current state of the valley’s air quality. The outro is an operatic sample that acts as just one of the many details that set this record apart from the rest. This is followed by another illustration of a destination, “Good Morning Capitola,” which has the quintessential California atmosphere bottled up and delivered through a melody. The West Coast’s purifying wind and waves don’t feel so far when this song plays. 

Afterward, we are gifted the throbbing beats that pound on the walls of “Bacta Tank.” What is beautifully exhibited here is the bringing of two dichotomous sounds together and using that to the strength of the album; in this case, it is 808s from the modern rap era and an electric guitar solo reminiscent of the eighties. “Armin Tamzarian” features an astounding amount of intricate instrumentation from record scratches to high piano chords. All of which hearkens back to an archetypal rendition of rap and jazz. The use of classic elements to reinforce the all-encompassing concept continues in the following two tracks, “Another Day in the Lewsiverse” and “Another Night in the Lewisverse.” Acting as a yin and yang, this double feature (of sorts) enlightens the sunrise and sunset. What is also unique about these two songs is that they feature the collective House of Lewis which was pioneered by Chance Lewis and includes many of the creatives that Lewis and Bonelli have collaborated with. 

The audience is allowed to act as a fly on the wall of the lives that are led by these musicians which feels similar to watching a sit-com friend group and laughing at their banter. It’s not over until the fat lady sings, which calls for the finale: “Who’s Eating?” Comparably somber to the piece in its entirety, we are met with R&B inspiration and despondent rhymes. As if capping off the night to a long, tiring day, the climatic ballad lures the listener to sleep and closes with a blurry and reverberated echo. Natural or synthetic, old or new, day or night—opposites coexist as artlessly as we do with the orcas. –Marzia Thomas

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