By Raven Harmon // Contributing Writer
Have you ever been able to hear a color? Has gospel rap ever peeked your interest? I answered no to both these questions until the release of “Coloring Book.” Being able to hear colors along with unintentionally becoming a fan of gospel rap is an experience from the rapper who puts the “indie” in Windy City. Chance The Rapper released his third solo project entitled “Coloring Book” for free exclusively through Apple music on Thursday. In the name of independence, Chance creates and distributes music for the culture, not for profit, but even from a conceited point of view, we are all unworthy of receiving 14 free, beautifully produced tracks that have the ability of awakening and swapping senses with spiritual messages, meaningful cover art and dope features from a roster of artists that hold major weight in this industry such as Kanye West, Future, Jay Electronica and more.
There are captivating explosions of delight consuming my ears that are now trying to express themselves as coherent words, so before you begin reading, I’d like to point out that this may or may not end up sounding as if a supportive spouse or proud mom composed it. I feel nothing but pure excitement and passion flowing through my fingertips as i type because it gives me great pleasure to form an opinion, let alone hear, a project that was (until recently) only a sweet figment of the imagination.
“Highly anticipated” is an understatement
His groundbreaking verse on Kanye West’s “Ultra Light Beam” undoubtedly set high expectations and anticipation for Chance 3. It is an honorable mention for Chance to collaborate so closely with a top-tier artist like Kanye West, however, I would like to think that his clout as an indie artist and audience anticipation exceeds that feature. Since the release of Acid Rap in 2013, Chance has toured, worked with Donnie Trumpet on “Surf,” done features and has essentially given fans just enough to be content, yet extremely eager for a three-peat. Back to when there were mentions of a possible third mixtape up until the recent assurance that the project was on its way, the intensity of emotions felt by fans go far beyond the words, “highly anticipated.” That phrase is used by default due to the lack of better words. If the phrase were comparable, it would be the bittersweet equivalent of waking up from a dream that surprisingly didn’t get interrupted because the universe was in your favor and decided to let you be great. Up until the night before the project’s release, Chance was stationary in the studio with inflatable mattresses perfecting, Coloring Book, formerly known as #Chance3.
Deflating all the inflatable mattresses in the studio as we speak #chance3
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) May 11, 2016
We get elements of Acid Rap along with growth.
Coloring Book is a true gem of 2016 and is underway of being a classic. Track No. 1 titled “All We Got,” featuring Kanye West and Chicago’s children choir, acts as an introduction, even though he makes it extremely clear in the first few lines that, “this aint no intro.” Chance uses the memorable ad-lib, “And We Back,” from Acid Rap’s, “Good Ass Intro,” which naturally triggers nostalgia for most, and is what breaks down every critiquing barrier one initially had before pressing “play.” Those simple words set the stage for the rest of the album as we begin to hear familiar elements of Acid Rap in songs like, “All We Got,” “Summer Friends,” and “No Problems,” tied with a strong and confident growth in production and content.
There is a song for you on this album
The track list seems very purposeful in its order. There is a song intentionally tailored for you and your listening pleasure. While still hearing elements of Acid Rap from track No. 1, the songs are optimistic, upbeat, and exude classic Chano. Along with a lot of other vibes, he also gives us slower songs like “Juke Jam,” and “Smoke Break,” that remind us of “Lost,” from Acid Rap. Listening to these songs will give one a sudden urge to send a “hey big head,” text to an old flame or current significant other, so proceed with caution. These songs show Chance as vulnerable, which makes their placement in the mixtape perfect.
His undeniable faith in God shines brighter than any other element on this mixtape as it is the agenda of the most powerful song on the project called “How Great,” featuring the mastermind Jay Electronica. There is no better way to enter this song than by taking us to church with a mass choir harmonizing, “How Great Is Our God.” With this interlude-like beginning, it helps set the tone so that listeners are receptive to the bars that are soon to follow. Exemplifying the familiar Acid Rap flow of lyrics tied with his growth in successfully incorporating righteous and gospel genres within his art, Chance has easily become my favorite Gospel rapper for Summer 2016.
Between his juke jams that make you want to dance and his turn up songs with features from Lil Yachty and Young Thug, there is a song for you. Most importantly, Chance makes a huge effort in making this project feel like a gift by putting emphasis on the words “for you,” whenever he or team members are promoting it.
Soooo many features!
While prosperously tapping into the genre of gospel with help from artists like Kirk Franklin and mass choirs, Chance enforces his disassociation with labels and signings in, “No Problems,” featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, which shows us how he is effectively able to blend content and styles to create a perfect production. The roster of contributors and features on this mixtape is endless and impressive, showing how versatile the production of this project is.
Chance Will Get Paid, Regardless
Coloring Book, is a mixtape not for profit, however, Chance will be seeing the fruits of his labor. His customizable t-shirts, hats, and hoodies are essentially real life coloring books for adults and have easily become a marketing jackpot as it allots creative freedom to fans and the merchandise. In addition to merchandise, Chance has confirmed that he plans on touring for this project very soon via Reddit AMA.
Even though this whole mixtape is deemed a classic (source:me), I was expecting more bars from Chance that make his original title of rapper more evident. Songs like “Blessings,” and “How Great,” do an amazing job at reflecting his skill in rap, but regardless, this entire project is strong in flow and content from both Chance and featured artists. It was released successfully and received a huge amount of coverage with positive feedback.
Altogether, Chance is paving the way for independent artists everywhere and remodeling the recording industry as we know it. Since Chance has confirmed a tour, spend your summer enjoying his free music, cop some merchandise to show support, and inspect how the release of Coloring Book will act as an influence and impact your favorite indie artists career.