Review: Chance The Rapper – ‘Coloring Book’

“All the lessons you learned as a kid and need to hear again”

I’m writing this review a few months after the release of Coloring Book and its hard to imagine a time without it. Whether I’m bouncing out of bed to ‘No Problem’ or strolling to the store with ‘Summer Friends’ as my theme song, this project has become part of my daily life.

The mixtape has already made history being the first mixtape to chart on billboards hot 100 from streaming alone – with no sales what so ever. Just to save you doing the math that means this album was streamed 58, 000, 000 times and you can probably throw some more millions on top of that at the time of this review coming out.

It’s full of up lifting messages and humbling melodies which, when sunk in, can honestly make your days easier simply by remembering the basic messages you heard as a kid and Chance reminds you of in your adulthood.

I could go on about how this mixtape has influenced my daily being but let’s talk music. The tape kicks of with ‘All We Got’ featuring Chano’s fellow Chicago native Kanye West. The song keeps the classic Chance tradition of giving us a blazing intro but also shows growth from his previous project Acid Rap talking on ventures he’s come across such as being a father (as opposed to previous talk on being on acid.) Another part of this song I have to mention is the contribution from Francis and the Lights. Francis brought to this project his own twist using the … technique to make the cyborg effect which is attached to Kanye’s vocals.  I imagine Kanye’s vocals will have been a polarising addition for people but I for one love the addition of that Francis feel.

It’s at this point I will declare I have no problem with ‘No Problem’. This song has been the lead single off the album and after receiving big TV performances appears to be Chano’s biggest song to date. Featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne who both deliver stellar verses the song quite rightly so is held to the light by Chance himself. The song heckles at the labels that held back songs he created with his fellow artists for the project all because they couldn’t support Chancellor’s movement of free music for the people.  Trust in this statement from the production to the lyrics you won’t have zero problems here big fella.

I won’t speak on every song individually otherwise this would turn into more of an essay than a review but I will speak on a few more highlights from this master piece.

“’Same Drugs’ isn’t about drugs”: This is a more sombre toned track which uses the metaphor of drugs to symbolise the notion of growing apart from someone. During live recent live performances he has encapsulated stage production to recreate previous experience of a past relationship ending and having to move on without that person.  Thankfully at the end of the song Chance reminds you to not forget the happy thoughts that is a well placed line since you’ll have at least half a tear forming after listening to this.

I’d like to mention the song ‘Mixtape’ because it’s the only song I usually skip over. But that’s just because personally I’m not a fan of either Young Thug or Lil Yachty so after Chance has done his thing I’m on to the next one.

My personal favourite song is ‘Finish Line’ as my two biggest inspirations T Pain and Chance the Rapper team up.  Chance delivers an up beat mood lifting verse and accompanied with the forever stellar vocals of T Pain will have you feeling perfectly fine with idea that one day we all have to face the finish line.

Finally I’ll mention the final track ‘Blessings’. Basically that’s what this project is: a blessing. When listening to this track you get the sense that this really is just the start of Chance the Rappers movement. He speaks on massing the stampedes, most likely referencing the influence he has had in changing things in the music industry and no doubt collecting fans world wide. He asks the question “are you ready for your blessings?” On the one hand it could be seen that he’s speaking to his fans essentially asking are you ready for the greatness to come. But personally I hope he’s speaking to himself preparing himself to continue shining the light he’s created and scooping up the rewards. This guy is on his way to greatness rarely achieved by artists and never achieved before by an artist who is independent and never sold a single song.

I could carry on unpicking this project line by line but trust me… you’re better coloring this one in yourself.

Chris Clegg 

Photo: Artwork

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