Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book (album review)

Originally published in Qmunicate Magazine, June 2016.

Fresh from the buzz of his deeply revered ‘Ultralight Beam’ verse, Chance still knows how to play the game independently and cultivate his own success through a commitment to authenticity. While The Life of Pablo was tagged a gospel album by another of Chicago’s sons, Coloring Book really delivers on this front – with ubiquitous choir runs, organs, and wall-to-wall references to Christianity, this release sees Chance reach a notably more content and hopeful standing without sacrificing the introspection integral to his style of stream-of-consciousness hip hop. Dipping into elements of soul, r&b, house (‘All Night’) and the uncharacteristically straightforward, dozy strain of hip hop heard on ‘Mixtape’, Coloring Book is a vibrant kaleidoscope of sounds which is always changing but never confused. While showcasing a list of impressive features (e.g. Kanye, Justin Bieber, Young Thug, Future), none have a particularly significant impact on Coloring Book’s dynamic; Chance’s strongest release to date finds its strength in his vision alone. It’s difficult to imagine that signing with any of the countless major labels desperate for Chance’s business would benefit his artistry much, and this release is part of a career built almost entirely on music released for free or streaming only. As Coloring Book reminds us from the outset – music’s all we got.

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