“Let’s make it so free and the bars so hard that there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet,” Chance the Rapper--who is Kanye West’s self-proclaimed “best prodigy” --said of his latest project while rapping a verse on Kanye’s “gospel” song, "Ultralight Beam".
The mixtape/album in-between, Coloring Book, has since lived up to that expectation. According to MTV, fans have tweeted every single lyric from the project. Pitchfork has labelled it one of the best new albums.
Coloring Book is not your average rap album, to say the least. It draws elements of soul, trap, blues, and gospel all into one project. The opening song, “All We Got” features both Kanye West and the Chicago Children’s Choir. The project’s features range from Future and Young Thug-- who prefers his “reefer louder than a speaker”, to gospel giants Kirk Franklin and Hezekiah Walker, yet still remains tasteful. Also, Chance is not bound by a label so his music is free, or, "for freedom", as he says in his son "Blessings". The release of his project comes on the heels of a petition with 25,000 signatures, including that of Chance himself, to allow free music to be considered for Grammy awards.
The upbeat project tackles themes of childhood memories, spirituality, fatherhood and the reality of growing up, over high-tempo beats, melodic trumpet solos, and rich choral vocals accompanied by the churchy sounds of an organ. He ranges from sing-songy “blessings falling in my lap” to a traditional hard hip-hop sound on “Mixtape”, featuring fellow free music aficionados Young Thug and Lil Yachty. The best way to describe the project’s overall sound is euphoric, charged with enough energy to invoke “a four-hour praise dance performed every morn”. It is the coming of age tale of the mischievous 10 Day artist who was suspended from high school for ten days for possession of marijuana.
Nostalgic lyrics reminiscent of rolling at the rink and summers at grandma’s house take listeners on a journey reflecting not only his personal growth, but the development of his sound. This one is very different from his previous projects, 10 Day and Acid Rap, which were about a kid going through experimental phases. With this project, it seems as though Chance the Rapper has come into his own, while pushing the limits of hip-hop music.
Tracks to Look Out for: "Juke Jam", "Summer Friends", and "Blessings" (both of the songs by that same name).