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Album Review: Chance The Rapper “Coloring Book”

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4.5

Let’s start from the beginning. The year was 2012 and drill music from Chicago was on the rise. Chief Keef was prepping his Finally Rich album, and young Chicago rappers were flooding the streets with music. The fake A&R in me was searching for the next best thing coming out of Chicago and stumbled upon an artist named Chance The Rapper and his mixtape 10 Day. Not what I expected. I saw much promise in the MC but thought Chicago’s current wave would drown out the chances of him blowing up. A couple of years later, Acid Rap dropped. Mind blown. I’m sold. Chance is next. A couple Social Experiments and a few top notch features later, and we’re here with Chano’s third mixtape, Coloring Book.

“Kanye’s best prodigy
He ain’t signed me but he still proud of me”
-“Blessings (Reprise)”

Chancelor Bennett is one of the most marketable artists we’ve seen in a long time and he’s extremely aware of it. Still independent and still album-less, Lil Chano from 79th is betting on himself. If you’re reading this, you’re already familiar with the tape’s promotion which included plenty of TV spots and late night performances. A petition to make non-profiting projects eligible for Grammy awards has even been set in place partially thanks to Chance. He is fully capitalizing on his independent title.

“Milly rockin’, scoopin’ all the blessings out my lap”
-“No Problem (feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)”

Coloring Book is a very special project. Chance has created a positive tape without being tagged with the backpacker stigma. Many of the elements of this project have a casual gospel feel to it. Chance is not shy to it either, starting off the project with Kanye West and Chicago’s Children’s Choir. It’s unfair to box the mixtape in to just that, though. First, Chance is rapping his ass off. His flow, wordplay, cadence and rhyming is absolutely spectacular. Second, Chance has an ear for music. His beat selection creates the perfect vibe for this tape. On paper, the features might not make the most sense but whilst listening you don’t question it. I mean, D.R.A.M sings Special in the middle of the album (AND HE NAMES IT “D.R.A.M SINGS SPECIAL”), and it works. Finally, Chance is still experimenting and knocking it out of the park. Whether it’s sounding house-y on “All Night” or singing a lustful Juke Jam featuring Justin Bieber and Towkio, he absolutely succeeds.

“Electrify the enemy like Hedwig till he petrified
Any petty Peter Petigrew could get the pesticide
79th, 79th, I don’t believe in science
I believe in signs
Don’t believe in signing, I seen dollar signs”
-“How Great (feat. Jay Electronica & My cousin Nicole)”

Is this Chance’s best project? Arguably. The mixtape is the most progressive project since Blu & Exile’s Below The Heavens. It will inspire kids around the country to step out of the drug and gang gang gang rap of today. I would suggest Coloring Book to anyone who is looking for a refreshing breath of fresh air in Hip Hop. Personally, a few less “How great is our god” moments, and this mixtape would be seamless to listen to. Chance the Rapper’s future is promising and this will be the tape that convinced you of your premonition.