Chance the Rapper’s kaleidoscopic second mixtape, ‘Acid Rap’, propelled him from an emerging artist penning bars on a ten day suspension from high school (hence the aptly titled ‘#10Day’), to one of the most astute young rappers of the past five years.
On paper, a twenty-something Chicago native writing an ode to getting twisted on hallucinogens hardly sounds like the most enlightened of listens. In reality, ‘Acid Rap’ saw Chance laying down narratives that weaved in and out of struggles with morality, the questioning of religious beliefs, and the five hundreds plus gun related fatalities that had taken place in Chicago that year - albeit through a smoked torn voice and a xanax-clouded lense. The record laid the foundations of the persona now associated with Chance - one that’s humble, authentic and arguably one of the most adept and innovative young hip hop artists to surface from Chicago since Kanye West dropped ‘College Dropout’ back in 2004.
‘Coloring Book’ intertwines gospel, jazz, hip hop, R&B and touches of Chicago house alongside some of the biggest names in the game - including Yeezy himself. Each style is perfected and full of purpose.
Where his previous works have seen him make passing reference to his faith, ‘Somewhere in Paradise’, ‘Angels’ and ‘Blessings’ see Chance wearing his beliefs round his neck like prayer beads - his spirituality omnipresent. But as thematic as this, ‘Acid Rap’ and his work as part of ‘The Social Experiment’ have been, it’s not what you stay for. “I got a link in my bio my bitch do the salsa like pico de gallo/ they gotta ask if they may/ Cinco de Mayo” from ‘Mixtape’ and “Man I swear my life is perfect, I could merch it / If I die I’ll probably cry at my own service” from opener ‘All We Got’ pay homage to the lyricism the world has become accustomed to.
While nearly everything we’ve seen from Chance up until this point has been as much innovative as it has distinctly organic, this third mixtape sees him evolving further. From every familiar “Igh!” that bursts in throughout verses to the way the words are administered, ‘Coloring Book’ is exactly the kind of record necessary to elevate an artist from viable to visionary.
‘Blessings’ (on Fallon)