Chancellor Bennett has come a long way in life and in the rap game. Because of a school suspension, he’s grown into one of the most polarizing artists of our time as Chance The Rapper. Chance dropped his first mixtape 10 Day and followed up soon after with the critically acclaimed mixtape, Acid Rap. At only 20 years old, Chance was thrown into the spotlight to become the boy wonder of rap. All this praise and attention can turn young artists into fame hungry objects, but Chance didn’t lose himself in the spotlight; instead he made the light shine brighter than ever by staying independent and warding off the evils of labels. Throughout the years, we’ve heard Chance featured on a variety of tracks, most notably being a part of Donnie Trumpet’s debut Surf with The Social Experiment. Even with all his work in the Chicago-land area, it’s been a little over three years since Chance has made a solo project.
And then it happened.
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) May 14, 2016
You can hear the growth Chance has experienced as an artist and as a person from Coloring Book. This isn’t the same guy who was rapping on “Cocoa Butter Kisses” three years ago. Chance is now a proud family man and a validated public figure. Not only does he show this through his music, but also from all that he’s done for the city of Chicago; from his open mic nights to his coats for the homeless on the Warmest Winter project. One of the biggest factors to Chance’s new lifestyle is fatherhood. The day Chance’s daughter was born in this world was the day something was awakened inside of him, leading him to create a beautiful gospel-rap project all on his own.
Coloring Book‘s feature list is huge. Guests aren’t supposed to make the album unless you’re DJ Khaled, yet Chance managed to wrangle artists like Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Future, Justin Bieber, and Jay Electronica. Would the features add to the songs or be distracting is the question, but Chance executes exceptionally with his selections. While having a track titled “Mixtape” with Young Thug and Lil Yachty might seem cliche, it’s a genius move. Thugger has a habit of dropping a mixtape every other week and Yachty is coming off his eccentric debut. While most of the tracks are great with the heavy amount of features, it would have been nice to have a few more solo Chance tracks as “Same Drugs” is one of the best songs on the tape.
The variety of features shouldn’t dismay you from the tape being cohesive as a whole. From the gospel-like “D.R.A.M. Sings Special” interlude to the baby-makin R&B “Juke Jam” with Jbiebs and Towkio, while diverse, holds true to the album name while also leaving no tracks warranting a skip. If artists were colors, Chance is the brightest crayon in the box. He gets personal about his life on the project and at no point do you feel like Chance talks too much of himself. The project feels relateable on many levels, even if you haven’t known the same struggles.
Lyricism and Production
Lyrically Chance is crushing it. It’s hard to count how many times you have to make the “oh boy he done did it” face while listening. This doesn’t spare Chance as he has a few corny lines that are sprinkled throughout the tape. For instance on “All Night,” Chance spits “Last Girl, She’ll lie on the seat / She’ll fart on the seat.” There could have been a better way to go around this because the word “fart,” no matter how mature you think you are, catches you off guard on a project that also tries to reach you at a personal level. Every rapper has their corny lines though and it’s safe to say there are more winners than losers in this case.
Production wise, the project is straight up beautiful. The cello on the end of “Summer Friends” is a perfect closing and shows that Chance is on a different level musically than a lot of artists, sonically demonstrating his exceptional ear.
Scars on my head I’m the boy who lived / The boy love playing when the boy too sick
Coloring Book is happy and bold. It’s uplifting. It’s about finding something new. A reincarnation of a man taking those next steps in his life. This is why the comparison and question of which is better, Acid Rap or Coloring Book, is irrelevant. They are both from different points in Chance’s life. Acid Rap was from a Chance who was ready to burst onto the scene and snatch the rap game in an instant, living life in reckless abandon. Coloring Book is from a Chance who has learned and grown from his past; he doesn’t need to come in by storm anymore. A lot can happen in three years and while Chance is sitting at the top, he’s able to appreciate things differently. While both tapes Acid Rap and Coloring Book hold their own sense of purity within them, there’s a certain joyfulness at the heart of both that which only Chance can create.