Coloring Book is my Album of the Year, and it isn’t even close

Unique is the only word suitable to describe Chance the Rapper.

From top to bottom, Chance 3 is an artistic, risky take on gospel music with the included upbeat songs that mesh brilliantly to give you an in depth look at what is in Chance’s head. Chance has recently found God and he is now realizing what his prioritizes are. He also included jabs at record labels like in “No Problems” and “Mix-tape” but then he shifts his focus on moments in the past with “Summer Friends“,  “Same Drugs“, and “Juke Jam“. There is music for everyone in this album. Whether you are looking for some slow, deep songs to get through the day or “lit” songs that full of fun and they make you smile and dance. That’s what makes his music so great, his sudden change of mood throughout the album created a truly one of a kind listening experience.

The mix-tape starts with the song “All We Got” which is a great start to an album. He has 2 great verses:

This ain’t no intro, this the entree
Hit that intro with Kanye and sound like André
Tryna turn my baby mama to my fiancée
She like music, she from Houston like Auntie Yoncé
Man my daughter couldn’t have a better mother
If she ever find another, he better love her
Man I swear my life is perfect, I could merch it
If I die I’ll prolly cry at my own service, igh, igh!
It was a dream, you could not mess with the Beam
This is like this many rings
Y’all know wha’ mean?
This for the kids of the king of all kings
This is the holiest thing
This is the beat that played under the Word
This is the sheep that ain’t like what it herd
This is officially first
This is the third

He then followed that up with:

I get my word from the sermon
I do not talk to the serpent
That’s the holistic discernment
Daddy said I’m so determined
Told me these goofies can’t hurt me
I just might make me some earl tea
I was baptized like real early
I might give satan a swirlie
Wish I could tell you it’s ready
Tell you it’s ready today
They don’t give nothing away
You gotta fight for your way
And that don’t take nothing away
Cause at the end of the day

Both verses were amazing. They set the tone for what the album brought but Chance sung it in a upbeat preacher-like manner that added the extra English on the verses. Kanye’s robotic choir was something that grew on me over time but it now fits better with the song. It would of been better to have him without the effect on his voice, but it isn’t too misplaced that it takes away from the song, and it even adds some solid hook vocals. The song’s story of summarizing his recent revelations is certainly done just.

The song that follows, “No Problems“, is a fun song that oddly features Lil Wayne and  2 Chainz, but both verses work, and again add some change to the song. This is the song that gets the most attention from radio stations and people because of the names, but to me this song isn’t even in the top 5.  It is a good song, don’t get me wrong. The song is about Chance dealing with other labels, and all of the voices mesh well and the beat does the song justice. It is a lighthearted jab at Chance not backing down to labels. Yet the song doesn’t have the something extra that all the other songs have. It is most definitely radio material.

Chance then changes his tone on “Summer Friends“, as he sings of how Chicago has taken his friends, and how this isn’t the first time it has happened. The city took them and changed them. Jeramiah and Chance mesh great on this song and give the song the dubious tone that it deserves. The plays on the voices that were done by the producers were pitch perfect.

To combat the dark tone of this song, Chance follows it up with an interlude from D.R.A.M. called “D.R.A.M. Sings Special” that really let’s you know how special you are:

You are very special
You’re special too
Everyone is special
This I know is true
When I look at you
You are very special
You’re special too
Everyone is special
This I know is true
When I look at you

In one of the best songs of the album, “Blessings“, Jamilla Woods delivers an amazingly great hook with her sweet voices that changes a bit throughout the song. Chance gets really personal with this song as he raps about his promise to keep praising God until he dies and he delivers in a rhythmically, sound way that has the perfect tempo and mix of beats. His careful diction really made subtle lyrics put out like:

I don’t make songs for free, I make ’em for freedom
Don’t believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom
Chisel me into stone, prayer whistle me into song air
Dying laughing with Krillin saying something ’bout blonde hair

Same Drugs” is a emotional roller-coaster that has many more downs than ups. It speaks to how one of his past lovers and him are all grown and don’t have the same connection they once had. Chance did great on his own, but the insertion of Eryn Allen Kane in their duo made it sounds sort of like a conversation. The questions he asks about to his lover in his head is something that we all go through so yeah growing up is hard and it causes people to change. This song was truly one of the best of the year by far. In fact, it is the best song on this record. This part being the best:

Where did you go?
Why would you stay?
You must have lost your marbles
You always were so forgetful
In a hurry, don’t wait up
I was too late, I was too late
A shadow of what I once was
Cause we don’t, we don’t do what we say we’re gonna
You were always perfect, and I was only practice
Don’t you miss the days, stranger?
Don’t you miss the days?
Don’t you miss the danger?

Chance somehow brought both Young Thug and Lil Yacthy on “Mixtape“, and it didn’t turn out terrible. It was well written and the lyrics were all understandable (for the most part). The song is catchy and it paints Chance in a different light. He sung it in a way that is similar to any other “trap” song, but it the lyrics were all played much louder so that the vocals shined more. He then provides an upbeat song in “Angels” that is able to lift anyone’s spirits with the uplifting beats and fast pace that Chance displays. It yet again shows a different side to Chance, one that is able to spit on the mic like any other rapper with lines like theses:

I got my city doing front flips
When every father, mayor, rapper jump ship
I guess that’s why they call it where I stay
Clean up the streets, so my daughter can have somewhere to play
I’m the blueprint to a real man
Some of these niggas toss they tassel for a deal man
I ain’t goin’ to hell or to Hillman
Igh, Igh, Igh, Igh, for my real fans

He then brings the mood back down with “Juke Jam” that refers to spot in Chicago where they would takes girls to. It is a slow paced, moody song that gets pretty sexual towards at the end. The song has Justin Bieber in it, but he doesn’t completely ruin it. His voice does go with the song perfectly but it is more generic Bieber voice that shows not much emotion. Then, that’s right you guessed it, he mixes it up again with the party song “All Night” that is super catchy and it talks to people wanting things now that he is famous. The song definitely with get your feet moving if you let it. I mean, come on, play this and the ladies be jumping:

Everybody outside, everybody outside
When I pull up outside, all night, no
Everybody high five, everybody wanna smile
Everybody wanna lie, that’s nice, no
Oh, now you wanna chill, oh, now you wanna build
Oh, now you got the bill, that’s cool though
Oh, now you got the gas, oh, now you wanna laugh
Oh, now you need a cab, that’s true though
All you do is talk, I ain’t got shit to say
Can’t no one get in my car, I don’t even valet
Long discussions, oh, you my cousin?
No you wasn’t, you just wanna ride
You just wanna talk about politics, Chicago shit and rocket ships
(You just wanna, you just wanna, you just wanna, you just wanna, you just wanna, you just wanna)
Shut up! Start dancing, ho

The song that really showed what the album was about was “How Great“. Chance made a song that had a choir sing “How great, is our God” for 2 minutes and it still managed to be good with the verses from Jay Electronica and Chance himself. The biblical allusions poured and his cousin Nicole beautifully sang “How Great is Our God” as we waited for these lines:

Any petty Peter Petigrew could get the pesticide
79th, 79th, I don’t believe in science
I believe in signs
Don’t believe in signing, I seen dollar signs
Color white collar crime

Smoke Break“, the song about Chance making time for his girl, has a nice dynamic beat that keeps the song on its feet. Future was an odd choice for this song but his mumbled voice sounds clear and it provides a good contrast to Chance with a change in tone from high to low. It gives shows some of Future’s range in his voice that isn’t found all that much. “Finish Line” is one of the weaker songs on this album but it was still a good song that featured some great verses by Chance like:

“He ain’t teach taxes in school. It don’t even matter I was acting a fool, but who would think the raps would turn into racks?”

“Me and my girl plan to stay to the end, hope there never come a day where we be better as friends.”

“I’ve been getting blocked just trying to make songs with friends, labels told me to my face that they own my friends.”

When Chance spoke, all of his verses were great and with a solid supporting it really made what had the making of a forgettable song one of the most memorable ones as far as Chance goes.

Last but certainly not least is “Blessings (feat. Ty Dolla Sign)“. This song is my favorite of the album. It isn’t the best but this song touched me and helped through a tough time in life. My life wasn’t at a high point and I felt alone, but every time I heard this song it always brought my spirits up. It gave me hope and that I was eventually going to get a chance at something. That and the incredible imagery in the song really allowed me the picture he sang into paint in my head. It reminds you that a lot of people go through tough things and they make it through. It is the type of song that you listen to and close your eyes so that you can think about nothing else except it. That’s when it really settles in. Lyrics don’t do the whole song justice but they sure do help give you a glimpse into what I am describing:

I speak of promised lands
Soil as soft as momma’s hands
Running water, standing still
Endless fields of daffodils and chamomile
Rice under black beans
Walked into Apple with cracked screens
And told prophetic stories of freedom
Found warmth in a Black queen for when I get cold
Like Nat King, I’m doing the dad thing
I speak of wondrous unfamiliar lessons from childhood
Make you remember how to smile good
I’m pre-currency, post-language, anti-label
Pro-famous, I’m Broadway Joe Namath
Kanye’s best prodigy
He ain’t signed me but he proud of me
I got some ideas that you gotta see
Make a vid with shawty and they ship it like the Odyssey
They never seen a rapper practice modesty
I never practice, I only perform
I don’t even warn, I don’t eat it warm, I won’t be reborn
I speak to God in public, I speak to God in public
He keep my rhymes in couplets
He think the new shit jam, I think we mutual fans
I used to dance to Michael, I used to dance in high school
I used to pass out music, I still pass out music
The people’s champ must be everything the people can’t be
I’m getting artsy-fartsy, house full of some Hebru Brantleys
You must’ve missed the come up, I must be all I can be
Call me Mister Mufasa, I had to master stampedes

[Hook: Chance The Rapper]
I made it through, made it through, made it through
And everything I gave to you, I gave to you, I gave to you
You got it, you got it, you got it, it’s coming (Coming, coming, coming)
So are you ready?
Are you ready?

Unreleased Music that didn’t make the album

Like most artists, Chance had a song that didn’t make the album, but it was later released to everyone on SoundCloud. It goes under the radar, but when listening to it, it could have easily fit the album. Chance joins forces with Mick Jenkins and Alex Wiley on the track “Grown Ass Kid“. Mick Jenkins kicks it off with a great verse. He has a very deep voice that contrast Chance’s more higher pitched voice. Overall, the up-and-comer did a great job as an intro to what was to come later. I’ll save Chance for later so let’s get to how Alex Wiley did. Alex and Chance both had 2 amazing verses that would have easily made the top 10 on Coloring Book. He talks about how he struggles to grow up and even has come allusions to the Bible which has become a reoccurring theme. Again he offers a faster voice that goes good with what Chance says. Finally, Chance just stole the show on this track. His whole verse was just pure gold. It has something everything hears about players would could of made it if not for an injury and it also keeps the story of a kid not wanting to grow up and forget his highlight childhood moments. If you haven’t heard it, what’s stopping you?


Are you ready?

Through and through, Chance the Rapper delivered an album that surpassed the expectations after his second mix-tape “Acid Rap“. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you give the time it deserves, it is easily the album of the year. It isn’t a “gospel” album, it is an album that has gospel parts but it also mixes a lot more elements to tell Chance’s story the way he wants to tell it. It isn’t all dark, it isn’t all cheerful, it strikes the perfect balance. It is a project that some may be confused by since he takes so many twists and turns and some may think it suffers from an identity crisis. For me that is what makes it so special, you don’t many albums like this one and Chance took a risk as being labeled a “gospel rapper” and it is a risk that we should all respect. The great thing about this risk is that it panned out beautifully. All that Chance has done for the Chicago community and for music has made me fall for him and has made him my favorite rapper. In fact he took the words out of my mouth:

Everybody finally can say it out loud, “my favorite rapper a Christian rapper”

I loved Coloring Book, question now is: Are you ready to listen?





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