The highly anticipated Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper dropped May 12 and proves to be a masterpiece that intertwines both smooth, imaginative hip-hop verses and soulful, heart-wrenching gospel sermons. In various interviews, Chance the Rapper has made many references about his religious background and how it has influenced and guided the independent rapper’s music ventures for his latest mixtape. Fans had a taste of Chance’s experimentation with blending hip-hop and gospel on his memorable verses on Kanye West’s latest album The Life of Pablo. On Kanye’s track “Ultralight Beam,” Chance steals the spotlight with his religious allusions as he croons along with a gospel choir and organ in the background. Teaming with Kirk Franklin, Chance delivers his own sermon in his third mixtape as the Chicago native masters a new sub-genre of hip-hop.
Jumping right into the music with “All We Got,” listeners are introduced to the mixtape with Chance welcoming his fans as he familiarly chimes along with Kanye West. “No Problem” is heartfelt and cheerful with a gospel choir harmonizing in the background. The recent duo Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, who earlier this year released ColleGrove, join Chance, each delivering bars–a powerful trio with credentials and influence in the rap game. In “Summer Friends”, Chance reminisces the simplicity of his childhood, the quick friends he made in the summer as he reiterated with regret, “summer friends don’t stick around,” and the adventures that speak for the artists’ nostalgia for the idleness of summer in his childhood.
Even the title of the mixtape Coloring Book reflects a childlike yearning he has reflected in his music. The following three tracks “D.R.A.M. Sings Special,” “How Great,” and “Finish Line/ Drown” teleport us to Sunday morning at church. Humming along and introducing the harmony of a gospel choir, the songs are powerful and the church-gospel element interwoven throughout the mixtape is inviting rather than daunting. Chance shares a outlook in his personal life as he reveals how important and necessary religion and family is to him and his music.
In each of his 14 tracks, Chance welcomes us to a personal slice of his life and his internal and external struggles. In “Blessings,” Chance reveals his struggles with his, music, life, and family, yet he is hopeful because he is aware that God is blessing him and has a plan for him. “Same Drugs” is emotional as he mentions a nameless woman who has changed, repeating, “When did you change?” Chance is also frustrated because he misses the girl he once knew who did the “same drugs” as him. Pausing from his earlier religious references, Chance turns up the volume with the club-banger “Mixtapes” as he jams along with Young Thug and Lil Yatchy. A very uplifting and hopeful song, “Angels” has a fun beat as Chance refers to the angels watching over him and his family.
After his three-year lull, there were a lot of expectations for Chance to produce a mixtape that could top the success of Acid Rap. Coloring Book is a dedication to Chance’s faith, a mixtape that reveals his maturity through his soulful music that echoes with hope, benediction, and revival.
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