Chance the Rapper
When I think of Chance the Rapper, I think of three things in particular: the windy and unforgiving city of Chicago; the raw, sometimes unrefined musing of an existential rapper; and the mellow, rambling lyrics of a storyteller who turns dark cynicism into optimistic rat-tat-tat flows.
Coloring Book is Chance’s third mixtape and is by far his most anticipated one. Expectations are high, particularly after his last tape, Acid Rap. Released right around this time in 2013, the follow up album both reinvented Chance’s persona and propelled him onto another level of popularity. With features from notable figures such as BJ The Chicago Kid, Vic Mensa, Twista, Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, and Ab-Soul, Acid Rap packed a punch in a trippy, emotional swirl of production and hazy bars. A concept album I believe succeeded.
And now, three years later, we have Coloring Book, Chance 3, the symbol of which we see shimmering on Chance’s hat in the album cover. Contained in a strict 58 minute runtime, Chance’s gospel journey pools together the eager hesitance of an underground rapper urgently asking to be heard, with the swelling curiosity and brain-boggling confidence of 2016’s attentive rap-preacher. With vivid, instrumental-heavy scores of religiosity, Chance forces his gleaming eyes and yellowing conscience into the raging pop style of modern Hip Hop. And with just about double the assists of Acid Rap, this body of work creates arguably one the most subgenre-bending drops of the year (feat. Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Jay Electronica, Justin Bieber, Future, T-Pain, Jeremih). For new Chance fans and old alike, there are plenty of ad-libs, rapid-fire flows, sing song interludes, and existential revelations to go around. Just get ready to push-to-start your Uber-pew.
Favorite Track: Mixtape (feat. Young Thug & Lil Yachty). This is a brilliant example of Chance picking up a concept and nailing it right away with the first few seconds of the song. With strained, smoky vocals peeling one bar at a time over the clanging, crushed production, Mixtape is both immediately distinctive and scarily addicting. In my opinion, the most powerful tunes on Coloring Book compare closely to Mixtape: they have significant, unforgettable features that the track almost couldn’t do without, partnered with meticulous production that feels glued to the lyrics. Why are Young Thug and Lil Yachty there? Because they are mixtape heavy-hitters just like Chance, with just about no real albums between all three of them. This “purposeful song” style is also very noticeable on How Great, Smoke Break, and Blessings.
Notable Favorites: How Great (feat. Jay Electronica & My cousin Nicole), Smoke Break (feat. Future), Angels (feat. Saba), Juke Jam (feat. Justin Bieber & Towkio), Summer Friends (feat. Jeremih & Francis & The Lights), Blessings
Least Favorites: All We Got (feat. Kanye West & Chicago Children’s Choir), Finish Line / Drown (feat. T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Kane & Noname), Same Drugs