Hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper released his highly anticipated third mixtape “Coloring Book” last week, and it’s absolute fire. I feel as if “Coloring Book” is the second best album to release so far in 2016, behind Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo.” Nonetheless, Chance is back at it again as he spits uplifting lyrics over soul-food styled beats, similar to the sounds of West back when he released “College Dropout.” What makes Chance truly unique, however, isn’t just his sounds, but his flow. Any fans of Chance aren’t surprised by this, as this is probably the biggest reason why he stands out as a rapper in what’s now an over-saturated market.
Below I listed my personal top five favorites off the mixtape, but don’t get it twisted-from the first song, “All We Got,” to the last, “Blessings (revised),” you’ll be taken on a spiritual journey that’s strong enough to make a believer out of anybody.
“No Problem” (feat. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz)
“No Problem” is classic Chance, as his sound on this track seems to be heavily influenced by West’s earlier work. “No Problem” is about Chance’s never-ending battle with record labels, as he still refuses to become a “sell-out.” It is an anthem of serving the ultimate rejection as he continues to rise from internet fame. This is apparent since Chance has always been dedicated to making sure his music is free-he’s truly a rapper for the public. Including features by 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, all three artists spit verses dedicated to the usual silly, egocentric and confident lyrics we’ve grown to know and love.
“Mixtape” (feat. Young Thug and Lil Yachty)
“Mixtape” has one of the best beats off the album. Including features by Young Thug and Lil Yachty, it’s no surprise this track is fuego. “Mixtape” is ultimately about Chance’s love for the free form of music distribution, and his worries about what the music industry will later decide to do about them. Ironically, the week leading up to the initial release of “Coloring Book,” a massive online petition circled around the internet about the idea that the Grammy’s should start recognizing certain mixtapes that, over time, have become classics; i.e Chance’s last mixtape, “Acid Rap.”
“All We Got” (feat. Kanye West and Chicago Children’s Choir)
With the opening track on “Coloring Book,” Chance sets the tone early on this banger. Starting off with an uplifting, soulful intro filled with horns and a hint of jazz, Chance raps about his current feelings on life upon the album release. “All We Got” is ultimately a feel-good track devoted to having fun in life, with verses dedicated to Chance’s views on religion, his girlfriend, and his own music. Ironically, this opening track is similar to West’s “Ultralight Beam” (also featuring Chance), as they both share the same chord progressions and that overall gospel sound we’ve been hearing from both of these artists as of late.
“Smoke Break” (feat. Future)
Throughout the mixtape, listeners will notice an exceptional balance, as “Coloring Book” covers everything from bangers, to gospel and soul, to R&B-styled rap. “Smoke Break” puts a unique twist on the latter, as Chance attempts to “slow down” and take a smoke break in order to get away from the busy lifestyle of a rapper who’s at the top of his game. Produced by GARREN and featuring a verse from Future, the overall feel of the track is composed and serene, even though the use of heavy bass and crisp high-hats steals the show. In “Smoke Break,” Chance reminisces about kicking back and smoking a bowl. Future’s verse, however, is a little more intricate. Despite the expectation for Future to be spitting about drugs and his lifestyle (which he does, of course) he also raps “You went and had our child/You didn’t abandon the D/You got me twisted at least…” and is clearly a shot at ex-fiance Ciara. Future doesn’t like the idea of Russell Wilson, Ciara’s current fiance, spending more time with his 2 year old child than he does.
“Angels” (feat. Saba)
Chance first dropped this track on us back in 2015, as a way to begin promoting “Coloring Book.” However,, if there’s one thing that carried over into 2016, it would be Chance’s remarkable creative talent. The kid has an ear for music, one that’s indisputably a rare and precious gift to have in the game. This is especially true in 2016, considering the cesspool of a market that’s currently over-saturating the entire genre of hip-hop. Produced by Lido & The Social Experiment, the latter being Chance’s band, “Angels” is a critical self-reflection and examination of himself and his Chicago roots. He raps over a sound that’s a perfect balance of tropical and instrumental soul samples, laid over an eccentric beat. You know it’s a good song when you can turn up to it just as much as you could relax while it’s playing. The entire song, as well all the entire album, is on point. It’s hard to not feel something when you listen to this.
You can follow Jordan Marsh on Twitter @JordanMarsh5. For more music coverage, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @shuffleonline!