Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
At the time of writing this review, the deadliest shooting in history has been perpetrated by a lone gunman, motivated purely by hate, with no other reason to do what he did. To stay positive joyful, and optimistic in the face of such darkness can be enormously difficult and is unfortunately impossible for some. That concept colors my opinion of this record, considerably.
Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper’s free third mixtape was doomed to an uphill battle with me the moment I listened to it. Pop-rap and I have always had a troubled relationship, and the sounds that drive me most crazy about the genre appear here too much for me to gain as much enjoyment as I could. More than that, there’s a lot of hype surrounding it, which always makes assessing it harder. So far, these detriments have made it impossible for me to say I like this record.
My biggest complaint is utterly personal: I hate the Lil’ Wayne Young Money flow—that easy going laidback style that moves at a leisurely pace, languishing like molasses. My hip-hop leanings are more for artists like Big Pun, Chuck D, Tupac, and Aesop Rock: MCs whose flow is dense and metrically absurd. Additionally, Coloring Book sits on the longer side, and I almost always tune out by “How Great.” Plus, the mix is frustratingly inconsistent at times.
Instead of lamenting, he focuses on the light; he focuses on the good, on the positive vibes.
But those complaints are pretty minor in the face all that does work: the music, which flows syncretically between jazz, soul, R&B, hip-hop, funk, and gospel with such effortless ease. The blend makes a tapestry of sounds that moves among exaltation, sadness, darkness, and love in an ever shifting array. Colors of love and brightness shine through. From tracks like “All We Got”, to “Mixtape,” to “How Great,”— everything has a distinct flavor and vibe.
What really elevates this record, however, is Chance himself. He looks at his circumstances with a lens, not-tinted rose, but willingly pink. The lyrics never deny the existence of darkness, and Chance often spits verses about the harder aspects of his life, whether it’s the miserable state of the music industry, or the release of this record for free on the Internet, his upbringing in Chicago, death, darkness, drugs, and pain. He doesn’t ever shirk the shit, he just doesn’t give a shit. Instead of lamenting, he focuses on the light; he focuses on the good, on the positive vibes. He lets love resonate with a vibrant sound of horns and gospel, to powerful effect.
In the face of tragedy and own personal prejudices, seeing the good is often difficult; but it’s possible, and if you try, you’ll see something worth being positive about.
Peace and love to Pulse.
Until music is more than all I got,
8,009 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Fu Throwing Stars