I was really impressed by Acid Rap when I first heard it, and have been anticipating a follow up for quite some time. His contributions to Surf and his collaborative mixtape with Lil B did little to meet my Chance the Rapper quota, but 'Ultralight Beam' really got me excited for his next project, and when he announced his next mixtape, I was definitely excited. And I was not disappointed.
Coloring Book expands upon Chance's offbeat style, while being something entirely different. Cahnce definitely has matured a lot since Acid Rap, and his wildly erratic flow patterns are replaced for the most part with more thoughtful and introspective lyricism. There is also a very strong gospel influence here that is absolutely undeniable. I feel like this is what The Life of Pablo wanted to be, but ultimately failed to achieve. I kind of wonder ho much of Kanye's vision was borrowed from Chance, since he did contribute heavily to that album.
The features on the whole were enjoyable too (Jay Electronica and Noname killed it), and even artists that I'm not too fond of don't manage to diminish the enjoy-ability of the album too much. Even artists I find insufferable like Young Thug and Future didn't do too bad (I took that 'I got designer galore' as 'Desiigner galore' on 'Smoke Break', referencing how Desiigner is totally biting his sound, but perhaps I'm giving Future too much credit). Lil Wayne, however, totally killed the momentum on 'No Problem' for me with some really weak bars. When you're on a track with 2 Chainz and his verse is better than yours, you have a problem. Also, Kanye's badly recorded autotune warble on the first track was pretty distracting. It seemed like the bigger features on the project delivered the least, but did little to curb my overall enjoyment of the album.
All in all, Chance the Rapper delivered a project that was more consistent, thoughtful and heartfelt this time around, and really gave you a glimpse into his reaction to fame and new fatherhood. I'm glad he's decided to stay independent, which means everything he releases will be just the way he wants it, and having such personal, unsullied artistic statements in the days of major record company interference is a blessing of its own. A really solid project and one of the greater hip hop releases of the year for me.
Out of a total of five stars, I give this:
What did you think of Coloring Book? What do you think I should review next? What albums are you interested in listening to in the coming months? Check back in later for more reviews.
"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."