Take a chance on Chance the Rapper

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It has been around four months since Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper’s 3rd official mixtape, dropped exclusively on Apple Music. Announced a week before it was set to release, it attracted all sorts of interest: Chance made first became mainstream with his album Acid Rap in 2013, saturating his gospel-influenced, bass-heavy across nearly every community in America. The new album clearly had serious expectations due to the success of Acid Rap, and it seems that, initially, it was not clear whether it lived up to the hype or not. Now that the noise and sense of discovery around the work has died down, it is a proper time to analyze how Coloring Book stands compared to Acid Rap and what the album means for Chance’s future.
When Acid Rap dropped in 2013, it was an evolution: a byproduct of the Kanye/Jay-Z era that swirled old Kanye’s gospel influences into an amalgam of genres and a bouncing sense of happiness that lifted and energized listeners. It was fun. Chance hopped around each track, unbridled, rejoicing in his rising career. He made the colorful, zany combinations work, and that was the genius of Acid Rap.
But that is not the genius present in Coloring Book. For one, it brings on a much higher caliber of collaboration (Kanye, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Justin Bieber), indicating his increased fame and recognition. “Coloring Book is tight because it has 2 Chainz. He’s pretty ill,” says Tim Bukowski ’17. Second, Chance, having matured for three years, has created a more developed and specific sound than the one present in Acid. It is less of a mix that worked only because of Chance’s infectious voice and energy and more a combination of gospel music and hip hop that succeeds because it is inventive, concise, and new. He has not lost his spark, it seems he never will, but he has learned to contain it and use it more effectively.
In a similar vein, Coloring Book, probably Chance’s most innovative and impressive upgrade, functions remarkably well as a whole. The backbone of the album, gospel, is evident throughout, and each song feels more connected and tied to the next than any two did in Acid Rap.Thematically, it is a departure as well, with Chance moving on from his teenage life and moving into adulthood and even parenthood (the album cover, if you weren’t aware, is a cropped photo of Chance looking down at his child). “Acid Rap is kind of more and about taking chances when they arise and chasing down girls, while Coloring Book is so much about acceptance and thankfulness for the life and family he’s made for himself” Adia Fielder ’17 nails down.
Chance has grown up. He is heavily saturated in the modern music scene, collaborating with some of the biggest names in the industry, and creating an adult life for himself. I believe, earnestly, that this is Chance’s first masterpiece. It is a work that is unlike anything else available, and it is special. Chance the Rapper is here, and he knows it.