Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
Release Date: 12/06/2016
Producers: The Social Experiment, Kaytranada, Lido
Singles: Angels, Blessings
I’ve called Chance The Rapper one of the most important rappers in the world for the last two years. After taking the world by storm with the release of 2013’s Acid Rap, Chance has bided his time like an seasoned professional. Popping up with features on artists of the highest calibre such as Justin Bieber, Skrillex, Kanye West and Madonna. He then topped off his monumental rise with an incredible collaborative project with The Social Experiment- Surf. And now here in mid-2016, Chance The Rapper finally blesses us with his third mixtape- Coloring Book.
Coloring Book is a clear elaboration of Surf, although Chance is now firmly at the centre of attention. And with that comes an all-out celebration of soul, hip-hop, R&B and gospel. Coloring Book is soulful, energetic, jovial, and absolutely brimmed with passion and love. The more gospel-flavoured songs on the album are enough to convert the stubborn atheist I am, into one of the God-loving members of the choirs found across Coloring Book. How Great is the best example of this, which also includes a stand-out Jay Electronica feature.
Coloring Book has some outstanding material on it, some of Chance’s finest to date. From the beautifully layered and intricately perfected Summer Friends, to the touching and lyrically-powered Same Drugs, to the utterly mesmerising album stand-out Finish Line/Drown. Chance The Rapper’s actual rapping is also as impressive as it’s ever been: ‘Magnify, magnify, lift it on high / Spit it Spotify to qualify a spot on his side / I cannot modify or ratify, my momma made me apple pies / Lullabies and alibis / The book don’t end with Malachi.’
However, I’m not entirely convinced this is the complete start-to-finish project everybody is making it out to be.
My concerns were raised from the get-go with the album’s opener- All We Got. For me, it’s one of the weakest songs on the album, with huge over-produced horns consuming the melodies of the song, as well as Chance himself. What’s left is Kanye West fighting the various instruments for the limelight, mumbling and moaning through autotune. Despite being the only example of Young Thug that I’ve managed to get through, Mixtape feels alarmingly out of place with its clunky trap beat and tired chorus, especially on a project that beams such love and pride. There are also some mixing issues across the album, with different musical elements sounding of distinctively different qualities, and often the volumes of which are up and down. Blessings was the most obvious example of this.
The album is a seriously impressive collection of songs, some of which are easily Chance’s strongest material- both tracks entitled Blessings, Finish Line/Drown, How Great, Summer Friends, and No Problem are just some of them. However, it doesn’t feel as complete or ‘altogether’ as Acid Rap, or indeed Surf. Reasons for this can come from minor things such as oddly abrupt endings to most songs on the album, to more obvious faults such as the aforementioned mixing issues. As well as this, the inclusion of one of the worst songs in Chance’s catalogue- Mixtape, as well as the trend-hopping trap/autotune bore Smoke Break upsets the otherwise exceptional album that Coloring Book is.
Verdict – WWWW