DAR Hip Hop: Chance The Rapper's Coloring Book

By @8tethegreat

1. All We Got
2. No Problem 
3. Summer Friends
4. D.R.A.M Sings Special
5. Blessings 
6. Same Drugs 
7. Mixtape 
8. Angels
9. Juke Jam 
10. All Night 
11. How Great 
12. Smoke Break 
13. Finish Line/Drown
14. Blessings (Reprise)

After a couple of years since Acid Rap, Chance The Rapper fans have been dying for a new mixtape. Acid Rap was superb, but how could the Chicago native top such a great mixtape? By dropping the “Chance 3” project that was rumored, and brought high anticipation. After his groundbreaking verse on Kanye’s The Life of Pablo, the rap game rumbled slightly from Chance’s lyricism. His voice may sound irritating to some ears, but he’s an artist after all. He doesn’t prefer to sell his work and prefers to release it for free so to speak, only having his music available for free download or stream. He could have won a Grammy for Acid Rap, so he decided to drop Coloring Book, a gospel mixtape with mixes of hip hop, jazz, blues, and R&B with a great guest lineup on paper.
However, will it exceed our expectations? Let’s observe what Chance delivered this year.

“All We Got” is our opener. Honestly, this is the way you open a mixtape. A funky beat filled with erratic trumpets and droning bass. The second half of this track absolutely will leave you moving your head along with the music in a trance almost. Kanye provides the chorus here and nothing else besides that. Chance’s flow is developing through the creative process. Chano is mentioning Kanye, 3 Stacks, Beyonce, and his girlfriend. A strong gospel feel permeates the track with the Chicago Children’s Choir.

Next, we move onto “No Problem” with Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. The song is overall decent to me. Great lyricism by Chance, but just decent from 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne. The beat sways off the gospel course, but Chance’s mixture of spoken vocals and hip hop delivery is very interesting to observe. Again, if the guest features were better, then this song would be great to me. “Summer Friends” has the feeling of an interlude with a bouncy beat and Chance’s decision to speed up his vocals on an accelerated flow that sticks with the eighth and quarter notes. Jeremih’s outro was a bit of a letdown however, because I expected a verse from him. The overall meaning of the song is emotional about friendship and the violence in Chicago.

"D.R.A.M Sings Special" involves D.R.A.M himself in this interlude. The overall vibe of this track is futuristic, abstract, and a lullaby. However, to be honest, despite thr abstract vibe, nothing spectacular happens in the shortest song of the entire tape. “Blessings” was revealed in a live performance before the drop. We experience a modern gospel sound with a free-falling flow coming from Chance and excellent instrumentals from The Social Experiment. The overall feeling of Chance’s lyricism describing his devotion to the most high is turns the head with respect. I overall do enjoy this track, but the replay value does die down.

Moving on to "Same Drugs”; a love/hearbreak ballad about a girl that used to exist in Chance’s life. It’s ambiguous about who it is, but they used to be close when younger, but now, they do not have the same interests or “drugs” in this case. Introspective metaphors in the lyrics pass over the head from the first listen. However, after multiple listens, it makes you realize the emotion in this track. Very interesting Chance.

“Mixtape” is a track focused on three artists sharing their opinions on the music industry losing interest in mixtapes. I found Thug’s verse as Thug revealing his true colors. Nothing super special in Thug or Yachty’s verses however, but Chance had a great one:

“I got a link in my bio/ 
My bitch do the salsa like pico de gallo/ 
They ask if they may, Cinco De Mayo/”

I liked this clever verse. A mainstream rap rhyme scheme in Chance’s verse is dope and nothing typical. “Angels” is my favorite track on the tape and it was released a long time before the mixtape. Bright calypso steel pan, with an uplifting beat provides the youth of Chicago in Saba and Chance to dance as if it was 1999. Great “self-growth centered” verses by Chance, but Saba’s chorus is infectious and you end up wanting to learn it instantly after. The live performances of this track is dope.

“Juke Jam” slows it down just as the style of music it’s supposed to be. Another love ballad with an average Towkio's chorus, a vivid storytelling Chance flow, and soulful Bieber bridge. Another well-constructed track here. This is the track for the bedroom or a late night drive. “All Night” sounds like a summer anthem and what better area to play this song other than the Windy City. Knox Fortune’s chorus sounds like a response to “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce almost. Chance discusses about now that he’s rose to fame, everybody who probably doubted his work ethic and capability now wants to be his friend. Describing how people pretend to be his “long lost cousin once removed”, we do not see an aggressive Chance in voice but in the words instead.

“How Great” just screams the Bible and how great Chance’s Lord and Savior is. Chance’s verse is alright here compared to the rest of the mixtape. If you wonder where Jay Electronica has been, here is an answer. He delivers Arizona heat with his verse. Altogether, the beat and flow of his verse is dope. This is my second favorite track here. His best lines include slander and self-arrogance like...

“I spit on Tidal, it’s tidal waves/ I spit on an Apple and kill a worm”


"Was lost in the jungle like Simba after the death of Mufasa/ 
No hog, no meerkat, Hakuna Matata/"

“Smoke Break” includes Future  here. It’s not a track on weed surprisingly, or at least it doesn't feel like it. Misleading somehow, but it focuses on how Chance and his lady have been trying to dedicate time for their child, but their busy lives need a “smoke break”. The feeling of euphoria, not in a drug perspective, but euphoria with the ability to spend time with their child. We see a charming side of Chance and Future painting the canvas of this track and thoroughly describing how to spoil the present queen. "Finish Line/ Drown” is one song but two parts. Finish Line is uplifting, feel-good with an unison choir and Chance’s success with gospel vibes and Drown is more relaxed with Noname discussing how God’s been there for her at her lowest points in life. Kirk Franklin appears with a prayer-esque verse for Chicago.

“Blessings (Reprise)” is the second half of “Blessings”. A calm Chance and soothing beat vividly draws us back with the experiences that he dealt with to attain success. From high school  and passing out his mixtape to now being considered Kanye West’s prodigy (although he isn’t signed to G.O.O.D). A soulful outro that feels like the ending of church mass is elongated for the purpose of the listener to realize what blessings they may have from the most high.

Overall, this is better than Acid Rap to me. This had highlights in “ How Great”, “ Angels” and “All We Got” and crashed a bit with songs like “Mixtape” and “No Problem”. This is a review off numerous listens(as most reviews should be) because it’s the little things in the mixtape(that you could miss on only one or two listens) that could have it considered as one of the top ten projects in 2016. It’s too early to tell where it would place as we are approaching halfway through the year, but for the first half, this is one of the top five. A great mixtape by Chance. Masterpiece? It is a bit too early to tell for THAT distinction, but what we could admit is that the Chicago gospel music remains strong and shines when it wants to if Chance is up for it.

Rating: 8/10



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