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Coloring Book Review
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Chance the Rapper’s highly-anticipated new mixtape, “Coloring Book,” is the best hip-hop album of 2016. With songs that transcend genres, Chance’s new album redefines what it means to be a gospel album in the 21st century.

While Chance garnered most of his popularity from his sophomore mixtape, “Acid Rap,” what really put Chance on the map and gave him the hype for the so-called “Chance 3” album was his verse that was featured in Kanye West’s song, “Ultralight Beam,” off of this year’s “The Life of Pablo.” While the song was filled with great features from artists like the soulful Kelly Price and the preacher-like Kirk Franklin, Lil Chano from 79th absolutely stole the show.

In his groundbreaking verse, Chance speaks of his relationship with his city and daughter along with his cooperation with Kanye involving “Chance 3.” He also tells the world that in his upcoming mixtape, “there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet,” which is ultimately the perfect way to describe “Coloring Book.”

From start to finish, “Coloring Book” is a soulful tribute to Chance’s daughter and God, himself. The first track, “All We Got,” starts off with a bang and features Chance’s idol and inspiration, Kanye West. This track also not only gives a solid rhythm to groove to, but it also reveals the very best thing about the album: Chance’s incredible verses. Chance’s first verse on the song is one of the best on the album, as it deals with recurring themes, those being his work with Kanye, his daughter, and, above all, his faith.

The second verse is also quite great but provides more of a humorous edge to it, as Chance announces that he just might “give Satan a swirlie.”

However, “All We Got” is not the only song with fantastic Chance verses. In a previously released single, “Angels,” Chance speaks of his family and Chicago while yet again referencing God in his music, but this time with more biblical imagery and confidence in himself, saying “this what it sound like when God split an atom with me.”

In the first “Blessings” song (yes, there are two), Chance states that he doesn’t make songs for free, but he makes them “for freedom,” referencing his status as a leader of a new kind of underground independent artist that can make music just as good as artists that are signed to labels.

After a fantastic melody sung by a choir and Chance’s own cousin that really gives a singing-at-church type of vibe, Chance gives the second best verse on the album on “How Great.” He talks about his upbringing and his relationship with God for the most part, but he manages to crack in so many references and metaphors that his one verse alone could be analyzed for hours on end. While most of the references tend to stay on the biblical side, Chance is not afraid to shy away from pop-culture, referencing “Harry Potter” multiple times, among other things.

When it comes to mistakes made on the album there are none- at least none that comes from Chance. All the worst parts about the mixtape are the featured artists. In “No Problem,” human lizard Lil Wayne tries his best to ruin the song but he seems to have underestimated Chance’s abilities.

“Mixtape” would be one of the best songs on the album if it wasn’t for Young Thug’s absolutely dreadful verse that can definitely remind one of nails scratching a chalkboard.

In what is likely the worst song on the album, “All Night” stars a chorus in which Chance takes a backseat to Knox Fortune. However, fortune does not go her way as she gives a very lackluster chorus in a song that is all too short. In fact, a fantastic way to fix the song would be to change up the Knox’s feature a bit, and add another verse by Chance, or even better yet, add a verse by the surprisingly missing Childish Gambino.

Uncoincidentally, one of the best songs on the whole mixtape is a song that features almost exclusively Chance. That song is “Same Drugs,” which, ironically, is neither about being the same nor about drugs. It uses the idea of not using the same drugs anymore as a metaphor to describe the rift between Chance and an ex-girlfriend. The song provides a great melody and some of the best signature raspy vocals from Chance on the whole album.

The mixtape closes perfectly with possibly the best tune of 2016. The second “Blessings” song, also known as “Blessings (Reprise)” features one of the best verses not only by Chano, himself, but by any rapper in the last decade.

In “Blessings,” Chance manages to convey beautiful imagery, remind the listener of childhood memories, mention inspirations like Nat King Cole, Kanye West, and Michael Jackson, and even reference old classic stories like “The Odyssey,” as well as modern classics like “The Lion King,” with perfect flow all in less than a minute and a half. After blowing everyone away with that verse, Chance begins to croon, “are you ready?” as the final moments of the album begin.

A choir featuring the likes of Ty Dolla Sign, Anderson Paak, BJ the Chicago Kid, Donnie Trumpet, and Chance himself begin to sing a magical melody while they repeat the lines: “Are you ready for your blessings? Are you ready for your miracle?”

Atop of all this, Chance has already released the album for free on DatPiff and plans on releasing it for free iTunes very soon. It’s hard not to at least stop and give a listen to “Coloring Book” as he gives so much reason and opportunity to do exactly that. Chance has produced one of the best hip-hop albums in the last couple years, easily beating the biggest 2016 efforts by Kanye and Drake, “The Life of Pablo” and “Views.” After all, we live in a magnificent coloring world and that world is Chance’s oyster. This is the type of music that makes you feel good. The only thing you need to ask yourself before listening is, “Are you ready?”

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