After 3 years of heavy anticipation, Chance the Rapper is back with the third installation of his mixtape and potentially the last solo project for a while. The highly acclaimed mixtape comes after his contributions to Kanye’s The Life of Pablo and collaborative project Surf with alongside his band full of eclectic personalities, The Social Experiment. Colouring Book features guest vocals from the likes of Kanye West and Lil Wayne to Future, Justin Bieber and T-Pain. Sonically diverse and verging on sound breaking, Colouring Book does not stray far from Chance’s own stories about his relationships with music, religion and his home life, whilst collaborating with experimental producers to creating arguably the most divergent atmosphere in one album in 2016.
Colouring Book opens with ‘All We Got’, a collaboration with Kanye West and the Chicago Children’s Choir. Instantly introducing the platform that he has always stood by, Chance speaks on the importance of music providing hope to whoever needs it, such as children in the featured choir. Similarly to All We Got, Summer Friends has got the magical touch of Francis & The Light. Francis & The Light brings the choir vibe that echoes through the mixtape and metamorphosis’s it into a futuristic sound by layering the same vocals over each other.
There is no doubt that religion has played a large role in Chance’s life, yet this album sees him push this to the forefront. ‘Blessings’ is a profoundly personal track where Chance bows down to his God and thanks him for blessing him with the success that he has encountered through his music; not only in regards to the industry but also the birth of his daughter. He also touches on the hot topic of the “Black Lives Matter” campaign. ‘How Great’ has significant meaning to Chance, but is a notable song in the Christian community. He again continues the heavy religious theme, beginning with the hymn sung by his cousin and then rapping himself.
‘Mixtape’ is the 7th track on the mixtape and continues the theme of value and authenticity of music over the business side that is now the driving force of many artists. Mixtape suitably features Atlanta rappers Young Thug and relatively newcomer Lil Yachty. Both fit the songs sound very well as it is very Atlanta-trap music based, even through to the vocals of Chance. It is great to see how Chance alters his voice to all different style of rap and switches his flow to fit with his collaborators, yet still, sustain his authenticity. Another example of this is ‘Smoke Break’ featuring Future.
Moving swiftly to ‘No Problem’, a warning anthem to those who threaten to pose any threats to Chance’s creative process in making his music. As he states, this was an issue with some artists that feature on his album as record labels interfered heavily. Nevertheless, ‘You Don’t Want No Problems With Me’ will be the anthem of the all summer.
The colourful production by Sox and Lido on ‘Angels’ really brings together the vocals of Chance and Saba. Again, the choir feature can be heard here as well, in addition to steel pans and the aquatic-sounding beat, bringing us contemporary ’90s RnB/Hip Hop vibes. Despite sounding like a sexual and sensual R.Kelly type song, ‘Juke Jams’ is actually speaking on the innocent aspects of a relationship. it is refreshing to hear a rapper speak on his lack of sexual game, rather than what we usually hear.
‘All Night’ is the one. And I mean the one. This juicy dance song is sure to get everyone moving. For some reason, I believe this is a track that the late Michael Jackson would have heavily endorsed. This song gives all types of summer bbq vibes, featuring an authentic 1980’s Chicago style house music. With its infectious music and catchy and repetitive chorus sang by Knox Fortune, Chance is a little more playful in this. He takes a different more vibrant and colourful turn rapping about people taking advantage of his fame. The only negative aspect about this track is how short it is. The infectiousness of the track really could have been played out for longer with another verse by Chance or a breakdown of the trumpets, but alas… we settle with two minutes and twenty-two seconds to keep fuelling those summer vibes.
‘Finish Line’ concludes the overt religious theme and is truly a great gospel rap song. The split track, featuring actual gospel singers and the reappearance of the Chicago’s Children’s Choir, contains joyous uplifting moments and moments of prayer. It truly feeds into the authenticity of a gospel church and praise and worship music.
Colouring Book is a carefully crafted manifestation of Chance’s personally influential experiences and life lessons, with a concluding theme running through it. Relatable, real and raw, Chance really has taken care to not create a masterpiece but to create a record that truly reflects his growth and showcase his greatest life moments. Not only is this admirable to hear the craftwork of this young Chicago rapper, but it is done in a way that shows the different styles that he can play with.By Kelly Kiesewetter