Written by Cleveland Oakes, May 17, 2016, at 7:00 p.m.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word chance as “the fortuitous or incalculable element in existence.” That being the case Chancellor Bennett, AKA Chance the Rapper, could not have chosen a more fitting moniker.
Coloring Book is the fourth mixtape in Chicago-based Chance the Rapper’s growing discography.
Having shunned being signed to a major record label Chance, has gone the route of an independent act for the last 4 years. Because of this and the current state of the music industry Chance the Rapper doesn’t receive a great deal of visibility on mainstream radio but has devout following of audiophiles that follow him on Soundcloud and his national tours, and have even gone to trouble of tweeting the lyrics of every last track found on Coloring Book.
Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book is on iTunes
Coloring Book Review
Having the freedom of not being shackled by a major label, Coloring Book, is major departure from any rap album that you could find on the market today. For the first time in Chance’s career he has partnered with many of the music world’s heavyweights to create an album I have nicknamed in my head as “Chance and Friends Praise the Lord.” The album features the likes Kanye West, Lil Wayne, 2Chainz, fellow Chicago rapper Towkio, Justin Bieber, Jay Electronica and a host of others.
Coloring Book would be best described as a Tyler Perry play soundtrack, equal parts Gospel and Hip Hop. Beginning with the trumpet infused and inspiring opening track “All We Got” featuring Kanye West and the Chicago Children’s Choir, Coloring Book is simply a masterpiece. “No Problems” featuring Lil Wayne is a poppy toe tapping Church Bass guitar backed tune. A paradoxical delight that throws the tropes of tough guy rapper on it ear by having Chance’s threatening lyrics accompanied by an upbeat tune. On “Same Drugs,” Chance once again proves his versatility and lyrical skill by crafting perhaps my favorite track on the mixtape. Despite the heavy subject matter “Same Drugs” is a feel good hopeful tune I imagine listeners will find themselves humming all day long.
“Juke Jam” featuring the high energy Towkio paired with Justin Bieber was a surprise. Those two names would have the listener believing they would be head bopping to a fast paced dance tune. Instead we find a track reminiscent of an early 2000’s R Kelly love ballad. Luscious in sound and drenched in sexuality.
However, if there was one track that took me completely by surprise it would be “How Great” featuring Jay Electronica and Chance’s cousin Nicole. Not only is it surprising in musical content, but Jay Electronica who is a practicing muslim and a member of the Nation of Islam is featured on a track that extols Christian values and literally has an intro straight out of First Sunday.
With a 2016 Spring that continues to be full of surprises started with Beyonce’s Lemonade, quickly followed by Radiohead’s Moonshaped Pool, and Drake’s Views, Chance the Rapper keeps the excitement going. Coloring Book can only be found on the iTunes music store as a free download. If you love music and are tired of the standard hip-hop and R&B on today’s commercialized radio stations, take a chance on Chance.