Album Review: Coloring Book - Chance The Rapper
By Benjamin Irons
Despite music giants Apple Music receiving the exclusive rights to stream Coloring Book from May 12th onwards, its now global availability on all streaming services is nothing short of a blessing for the ears of the worldwide musical macrocosm - easily making for one of the most disciplined and complete releases this year.
The album, conceptually, is completely disparate from his debut release 10 Day (2012), which is an exploration of youthful tendencies, grounded by adolescence and entrepreneurial flair- "No assignments, book of rhyming and i'm drawing doodles"; "I rap my songs in Spanglish, I wrap my weed in blunt wraps". 2013's Acid Rap confessed to his penchant for "cigarettes on cigarettes", but Coloring Book is prided on positivity and appreciation; "Man I swear my life is perfect, I could merch it" he chants in the opener "All We Got" featuring Kanye and the Chicago Children's Choir, a narration which is far-flung from the generic expressions of wealth and women found in most contemporary rap.
"D.R.A.M. Sings Special" and "Blessings" develop a notion of unpretentiousness; the former using a combination of harmonious male vocals alongside gospel voices as a respite from the lively predecessor "No Problem"; the latter, an exploration of homey emotions through the soft-spoken vocal ability of African American soul singer Jamila Woods on the hook - both of which however model themes of authenticity and purity in a beautiful manner.
Chance opens up about his transcendence from immaturity to a zest for peace of mind on "Same Drugs" - "Don't forget the happy thoughts, all you need is happy thoughts" - a theme that is apparent from start to finish. But "Mixtape" and "Smoke Break" stray from the intimate path seen on aforementioned tracks, as Chance's story-telling lyrical prowess is seemingly drowned out by the collaborations with Young Thug & Lil Yachty on the former, with trap-rapper Future conflicting dramatically on the latter.
The same language is spoken however between Knox Fortune and Chance on "All Night", providing listeners with a rather enthusiastic beat to dance to. So while there are elements on Coloring Book that authenticate the 23-year-old's vulnerability on collaborative efforts, his genuineness on solo tracks will undoubtedly see Chance ride the recent wave of fame all the way to the top.