Once we’re past our formative years, how often do we open coloring books? How often do we employ coloring books to de-stress, as they were intended to do? I’ll answer that for you, we don’t. However, there is one coloring book you should consider opening and understanding, and it was created by Chance the Rapper.
Chance’s third mixtape Coloring Book was released on May 12, 2016 exclusively on Apple Music, offering the full experience of grapheme-color synesthesia — that disorder you have when you associate colors with words and sounds — before being leaked on to DatPiff.com an hour later.
The third mixtape gives you so many features that it got hard to choose the best song, even though the single “No Problems” which features Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz was given one of the best organic videos of the year.
I’m so hesitant to call this a mixtape because it is so complete, and it was even on the Black Youth Project’s 5 Best Albums & Mixtapes Released in May. When Chance said that this mixtape was going to be better than Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment’s Surf, I was skeptical especially since it had gotten so much praise via publications like Complex. But with an opener like “All We Got” which features Chance’s new best friend, Kanye West and the Chicago Children’s Choir, it’s easy to see how hard Chance decided to deliver with this mixtape. (By the way, every time I write mixtape, I am so tempted to write the word ‘album’ instead.)
That mistake, of course, happens because the project is so comprehensive and vibrant, just like a coloring book. It does not necessarily follow a storyline, but it takes its rightful place as a feel good mixtape. With that being said, there are some songs that remind me of Surf, like “Summer Friends” – featuring Jeremih, Francis, and The Lights — which shares a sonic resemblance to “Windows” and “Pass the Vibes” and a lyrical similarity to “Wanna Be Cool.”
This mixtape is the musical epitome of catharsis, especially when you hear songs like “D.R.A.M. Sings Special” which places you on a beach with an organ and “Juke Jam”, which has you waiting to turn up with your friends. Even “Angels” makes you want to smile.
However, with all of the happy-go-lucky tracks, Chance still reminds you how woke he is, even by stating one line: “Jesus’ black life ain’t matter, I know I talked to his daddy / Said you the man of the house now, look out for your family” on “Blessings” which includes Jamila Woods on the hook.
This is by far one of the hardest rap albums (there, I said it!) of 2016 and it is only made better when you look at the list of features which stem from Future to the Chicago Children’s Choir to Young Thug to Kirk Franklin to Eryn Allen Kane and Noname.
This album is breaking records, and after you give it a listen, it is not surprising to know why. Coloring Book is the first album to chart on the Billboard 200 solely by streams, and to make it even better; it debuted in the top 10.
The beautiful thing about a coloring book is that it is always more beautiful when you finish it than when you begin and that’s how this album felt after the first listen, but especially after tenth, so now I ask you, what colors did you see when you listened to this album? It’s so vibrant that you had to see at least one.
Make sure you get Chance the Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play, and Rhapsody. Essentially, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be listening to it already.
(Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)