Chance The Rapper – Colouring Book Review

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Chicago born rapper Chancellor Bennett, better known by his pseudonym Chance The Rapper, announced his entrance into the music industry with his 2012 mixtape 10 Days and his LP from 2013, Acid Rap. Filled with vibrant rhymes and high energy, jazz inspired beats as well as his powerful personality, clever witticisms and his unique high pitched delivery, Chance quickly became the favourite of many on the rap scene. So much so that since then he has contributed to many established artists such as Kanye West, Action Bronson and BJ the Chicago Kid as well as on Justin Bieber’s Journal LP. AcidRap showed Chance’s creativity on tracks like Everbody’s Somebody’s Everything and Cocoa Butter Kisses but it also showed some less than imaginative hooks on tracks like NaNaNa. Overall, it was an immensely impressive debut album on all levels. Can his follow-up, Colouring Book, improve on his already strong discography.
Chance continues with this high-energy soul style on this LP but strengthens the gospel elements, which is perhaps no surprise given his collaborations with Donny Trumpet & The Social Experiment on their LP Surf. Angels is symbolic of all these different elements as Chance delivers his catchiest song so far. Like on AcidRap, Chance shows his vulnerable side when he admits being the “blueprint to a real man” before bigging himself up some.
The gospel feel reappears on How Great, which opens with a gospel choir singing “how great is our god”. Whilst the auto tune in the background pulls from the track a little bit we do eventually get two impressive verses. In the first Chance drops some Harry Potter references when he raps about electrifying ‘the enemy like Hedwig till he petrified/ Any petty Peter Petigrew could get the pesticide” but it’s Jay Electronica’s verse which is the stronger with a more consistent narrative. Jay raps about how religion was there for him when he was “lost in the jungle” and “prayed and prayed and left message but never got no hear back/ or so it seemed” before saying that “Jay Elect would’ve never made it” without it.
Chance shows his singing chops on Same Drugs where he uses drugs as a way of talking about how two childhood friends went in different directions later in life. Heartfelt, vulnerable and creative, this track shows Chance at his best. Chance stretches himself on the LP too, his collaboration with Knox Fortune, All Night, is perhaps his most dance inspired tune yet. We do also get some of the eccentric production style that was so dominant on Acid Rap and No Problem is perhaps the best representation of this. Chance’s trademark witticisms are evident throughout the LP but especially on Blessings where Chance comments on the state of the music industry where music is more readily available for free than ever before (“I don’t make songs for free, I make ‘em for freedom/ Don’t believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom”).
However, it is the quality of production which lets Chance down repeatedly on this LP. The opening track, All We Got, starts well as Chance raps over booming drums. Unfortunately, the song is soon ruined by what can only be described as a choir of auto tuned Kanye’s. This tendency for poor auto tune again weakens the song Summer Friends whose decent beat is almost ruined by Francis & the Lights abrasive high pitched auto tune. Again, on Smoke Break Chance uses it on his own voice which is rather strange given how well he has proven he can sing on his earlier tracks. Another problem is the huge inconsistency in the contribution of the other artists on the LP. As well as the two above, Young Thug and Lil Wayne prove to be relatively disappointing.
A little more of Chance, who’s powerful, entertaining personality, intelligence and eccentricities made his first album so good would have gone a longer way to improving this LP. Colouring Book, as it is, remains a strong but flawed album from one of raps most exciting artists.

Chance The Rapper – Colouring Book = 7.5/10

Callum Christie

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