Album Review | Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

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Just recently Chance the Rapper released a mixtape on Apple Music titled Coloring Book. I was excited to hear this project because I’ve been a fan of his past projects such as his mixtape Acid Rap and the collaborative album he did with Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment–Surf.

His past projects have been as vibrant and bright as his personality and Coloring Book keeps that theme going. I enjoyed this album. It’s been in heavy rotation since Chance released it. I think this album is full of life and is perfect to bump during the summer. I also think this album shows how Chance has grown as an artist and as a person.

I say that this album is indicative of Chance’s growth because this album is a tad bit more nuanced than his past projects, in terms of production and content–in a way. This project was heavily influenced by gospel music which was reflective of Chance’s faith and his religious beliefs. He’s expressed his journey with Christianity on Twitter before which is why I wasn’t thrown off by the obvious religious references throughout this tape. He featured gospel artists such as Kirk Franklin and in some of the tracks he even references well known gospel songs such as Let the Praise Begin by Fred Hammond.

While also referencing gospel and religious music throughout the album, Chance also kept “secular” aspects in this album. He still talks about smoking, women, turning up, etc and he features artists such as Young Thug, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, T-Pain, and many more. But I don’t think those “secular” moments negate the moments he talks about his faith and how God has blessed him and brought him through trying times–which is something some religious folk might try to argue. I think it’s honest and it shows how complex Chance is as a person–that there’s many different layers to him.

In a way, I think a lot of Black American kids can relate to this album in different ways. It covers a number of things we grew up with such as Gospel music and Christianity or the fact that this album is called Coloring Book. I think the title of this album not only speaks to the bright, vibrant sound of this album but also to growth and nolstagia–some other themes I noticed within this album.

As for features, there were many. Features from other artists, besides the ones already mentioned, include Anderson Paak, 2 Chainz, D.R.A.M., Jeremih, Francis & the Lights, Lil Yachty, Saba, Justin Bieber, Towkio, Knox Fortune, Future, Ty Dollar Sign, Noname, Eryn Allen Kane, and Jay Electronica. I said it before but Chance the Rapper is one of the few artists I know that can have Jay Electronica and Justin Bieber on the same album and have it work. All of these features were random in the grand scheme of the album but they all worked.  For example, he placed Thugger, Yachty, Weezy, and 2 Chainz on typical hype songs and Bieber on a slow jam meant to swoon the ladies.

My favorite tracks off this album would be Blessings (the one towards the end of the album), Juke Jam, Mixtape, No Problem, and Smoke Break. Although I have favorite songs, this album is pretty seamless. Each song is solid and it’s rare that I’ll skip through the album. I can sit through and enjoy the whole project.

Overall I would say that I really liked this album. I’m definitely putting this on my list of top albums from 2016 (Even though it’s a mixtape, I consider it an album). I give it a 4 out of 5.

I’m excited to see what else Chance the Rapper has in store.

Also, check out my album review, along with social commentary, for Beyonce’s Lemonade here.

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