First off, the Coloring Book mixtape can easily be mistaken for an LP. The production is top notch, most of which is shouldered by The Social Experiment, a group of musicians that include: a trumpet player, producers, a composer, a drummer and a rapper (Chance). The foundation of their sound is a neo-soulful, jazz infused, eclectic mix that could trace its roots back to ATCQ. But there are a few tracks that sonically reach another level as they take strong influences from the gospel genre. Religious themes are found throughout Coloring Book, but How Great is by far the most reflective. Chance states that this is his favorite track off of the mixtape (mine too), because of its strong connection to his grandmother. How Great was recorded a few weeks after his grandmother's passing. His cousin Nicole sang How Great Is Our God (by Chris Tomlin) at the service and Chance was understandably moved. Chance invited his cousin to sing on the track, which made it even more personal. But if that wasn't enough, Chance was able to get an elusive feature from Jay Electronica. The Muslim emcee is able to perfectly complement Chance with the overall Christian theme of the track. Songs like this, and Blessings show a maturity in how Chance is able to tackle subject matter that is incredibly complex and sometimes polarizing.
But this is also why young Chancelor is so intriguing to me. He is so gifted lyrically that when you add his musical aesthetic, there is something very special there. Since Chance's style is so malleable, he sometimes picks up the flow and cadence of those he raps with. So a song like Mixtape, featuring Young Thug and Lil Yachty (who the hell is this!?), plays a color by number type track from beginning to end. Each rapper sonically impersonates the other, and all sound like they can't hold a melody and have lost there voice the night before. But as I mentioned above, since Chance can actually hold a note without auto tune, he is the most tolerable. And here is the crux of my feelings about him. If you ask me, "do you like Chance?" I say, "Yes?" Because I feel he has the potential to move up the emcee pyramid. He doesn't need to dumb his lyrics/flow down to placate the prevalent generic hip pop (not a typo) sound. The Coloring Book has tracks that hit strong PEAKS musically, but it also has "meh" songs that are mediocre for his talent. And I am not just hating on party songs. Tracks like All We Got, All Night and Finish Line Down are more light hearted songs that are a great listen. And even after saying all that, I feel great about Chance's future. Yes, this mixtape had peaks and valleys for me, but he will find a balance as he grows into the emcee he is meant to be. Overall, if you're a Chance fan, you'll like this latest mixtape. And the same would go for those who want something new, Chance's hip hop spectrum is as vast as they come. I look forward to see what the young Chi town emcee has planned for this next project.
Peep video for Angels below. Also, fun fact, all of Chance's mixtapes (this is his third) are painted by a Chicago artist. The Coloring Book's cover was painted from a picture of Chance holding his newborn daughter.