On "Coloring Book," Chance the Rapper fully realizes his gospel vision
Chicago artist Chance The Rapper has once again impressed music critics and fans, this time with his latest mixtape “Coloring Book.” Ever since his breakout release, “Acid Rap,” he has gained a bit of notoriety as he has collaborated with multiple big-name artists, while maintaining his independent status. His contribution to Kanye West's latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” left Chance's fans wondering what his next project might sound like, given the unique gospel notes found both on Chance's TLOP tracks and "Surf," the Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment record which Chance heavily contributed to.
On this latest project, Chance allows his love for gospel, jazz and soul to shine through more than ever before. This feel-good piece of work is what I would call the perfect mixtape. Midway through the tape, I couldn't help but feel bad that I had to stream it — yes, I'm that person that still buys music.
The first song, “All We Got,” opens up with Chance talking about his life, his family and the effect music has had on him. On the hook, we have an auto-tuned Kanye repeating that music is all they have — as artists it takes over their lives, so they might as well give it all they got. It's a fitting sentiment to open the mixtape.
“No Problem” follows, and it's Chance's warning to record labels who he accuses of making efforts to hinder his success as an independent artist. We'll skip the comedic verse by 2 Chainz, but Lil Wayne once again expresses his desire to be released from Cash Money Records so he can release the highly anticipated album, “Tha Carter V.”
“Summer Friends” is a cry out for change in Chicago, as Chance expresses how Chicagoans miss their old friends who were killed during the summer. The track is quite incredible and melodic, with vocals from Jeremih to add an emotional feel for the people of The Chi.
The shortest song on the record, “D.R.A.M Sings Special,” advocates a simple, yet deep message of self-confidence and inspiration with a soul-styled lullaby.
“Blessings” talks about Chance's devotion to God and how everything he does is for his daughter and his city. Chance shows happiness and gratitude for what he currently has. It's one of my favorites on the project.
“Same Drugs” is my favorite overall song on the mixtape. The usage of the word 'drugs' to express a feeling about a mutual drift of couples is beautiful and effective. It is comparable to another of Chance's strongest efforts, "Acid Rap"-standout “Cocoa Butter Kisses."
“Mixtape” is also a standout track, but not because of Chance. Young Thug was actually intelligible,and Lil Yachty wasn't bad at all, quite a change from what I'm used to from either of them.
The single “Angels” — originally released over six months ago — is the jam. It speaks on Chance's growth and his love for the city of Chicago. .
“How Great” is a barfest between Chance and Jay Electronica. The song starts with religious themes, sung by Chance's cousin, that add a good feel to the start of the song. Then, there's Jay Electronica. His verse proves Jay needs an album, and it might finally come this year as he says, “This is the year that I come for the crown/Bury my enemies under the ground.”
“Smoke Break” fails to standout from an otherwise great tracklist. The production is lazy, and allows the song to fall flat. The double song “Finish Line/ Drown” continues the religious themes with Eryn Allen Kane's unique melody and captivating voice. The track also features T-Pain singing the hook, and appearances by noname and Kirk Franklin to finish the gospel vibe.
Chance's third mixtape is an incredible effort from the rising rapper. It has a little for everyone. Whether it be the lyrics, production or overall emotion that appeals to you, it's a great listen. I mean he said it himself, “I met Kanye West, I'm never going to fail.”