I first got put onto Chance the Rapper a minute ago when I watching an episode of one of the few reality shows I do watch, Chicagoland. If you don’t know about the series I’ll challenge ya’ll to peep it cause it’s REAL dope. It deals with 3 of Chicago’s heavy hitters, the Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, the police commissioner, Gary McCarthy and the principal of one of the worst high schools in Chicago, Liz Dozier. The thing that’s so dope about Chicagoland it that it shows how these 3 individuals who’s paths shouldn’t necessarily cross, end up crossing all of the time. See, when Emanuel closes a rack of schools in predominately black & latino neighborhoods, it cause even more violence because now kids are having to go to school in rival neighborhoods which affects the police chief’s numbers as far as murders and shootings. But that decision also leads to a lot of teens dropping out of school because they’re not trying to troop into enemy territory which then affect’s Liz’s numbers in her school which leads to her losing funding for some of the key departments at Fenger High that she depends on. But let's get back to Chance. So one day I’m watching the hip hop episode of the show highlighting everything that Common, Ye and other Chitown artist are doing for the city and one of the artists they were highlighting was this cat Chance the Rapper who was dope! I downloaded his mixtape “Acid Rap” with the quickness and it ended up not only becoming one of my fave albums that year but one of my fave albums period.
And ever since then, I feel like anything Chance jumps on...he kills. I absolutely LOVE his verse on BJ’s banger “Church”, "hot as hell in the fur coat, walls like Jericho, p*ssy like hurr ya go." He literally saves the day on Ye’s “Ultralight Beam”, “foot on the devil's neck 'til it drifted Pangaea, I'm moving all my family from Chatham to Zambia/treat the demons just like Pam, I mean I f&ck with your friends, but damn, Gina" and then this dude messes around and becomes the first independent artist (yup, dude is THIS big with no label behind him) to ever grace the SNL stage and KILLED it with his banger “Sunday Candy.” So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that I was hype as hell for his new mixtape “Chance 3.” Now, the problem that always seems to rears it’s ugly head whenever I’m hype for something, is I’m always let down. So let’s do the knowledge on if "Coloring Book" falls into that category.
“Coloring Book” sets off with “All We Got” featuring Ye and the Chicago Children’s Choir and sets the tone for the entire album, “No Problems” with 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne has Chance telling ya’ll “if one more label try to stop me, there’s gonna be some dread head niggaz in the lobby” while “Summer Friends” featuring Jeremiah STAYS on repeat and has Chance reminiscing on his summers in the Chi, “socks on concrete jolly rancher kids, I was talking back and now I gotta stay at grandma's crib/bunch of tank top, nappy headed bike-stealing Chatham boys, none of my niggas ain't had no dad, none of my niggas ain't have no choice/JJ, Mikey, Lil Derek and them, 79th street was America then/ice cream truck and the beauty supply, Blockbuster movies and Harold's again/we still catching lightning bugs, when the plague hit the backyard/had to come in at dark cause the big shortys act hard/day camp at Grand Crossing/first day, nigga's shooting, summer school get to losing students, but the CPD getting new recruitment/our summer don't our summer, our summer don't get no shine no more/our summer die, our summer time don't got no time no more.” The 1st single “Blessings” is dope and has Chance dropping jewels with “ain't no blood on my money ain't no Twitter in Heaven, I know them drugs isn't close, ain't no visitin' Heaven/I know the difference in blessings and worldly possessions, like my ex girl getting pregnant and her becoming my everything/I'm at war with my wrongs I'm writing four different songs, I never forced you to forfeit it I'm a force to be reconciled/they want four minute songs, you need a four hour praise dance performed every morn/I'm feeling shortness of breath, so Nico grab you a horn/hit Jericho with a buzzer beater to end a quarter, watch brick and mortar fall like dripping water.”
“Same Drugs” deals with Chance realizing that him and one of his old school homegirls have grown apart and “Mixtapes” featuring Young Thug has them asking the question does anybody still care about mixtapes. But my favorite part of the songis when Lil Yachty checks in to ask the ill question, “am I the only who still cares about cover art?” Damn good question bruh. “Angels” featuring Saba has Chance schooling us how he’s got angels watching not only watching his back but his front too, “where you halo like a hat that’s like the latest fashion, I got angels all around me they keep me surrounded” while “Juke Jam” featuring Justin Bieber has Chance reminiscing on the good ole days of hanging at the rink and dancing with shorties, “we never rolled at the rink, we would just go to the rink/you ain’t buy tokens no more, you just hip roll at the rink/you had a nigga and I couldn’t stand him, but when they play ‘Take You Down’ Chris Brown I was your stand in/I mean it’s just dancing it’s harmless as f#ck, then I put my waist through your hips and your legs and my arm just to harness you up.” The uptempo “All Night” has Chance talking about dealing with his new found fame, “How Great” featuring Jay Electronica is BONKERS and sets off with one of my fave gospel songs and helps to remind us all just how nice Jay Elec is “I was lost in the jungle like Simba after the death of Mufasa, no hog no meerkat/hakuna matata by day but I spent my night time fighting tears back/I prayed and prayed and left messages but never got no hear back/or so it seemed a mustard seed was all I needed to sow a dream, I build the ark to gently, gently row my boat down Noah’s stream/sometimes the path I took to reach my petty goals was so extreme, I was so far down in the mud couldn’t even let my light shine/but you was always there when I needed to phone a friend or use a life line/from a lofty height we wage war, on the poltergeist with the exalted Christ/spark the dark with the pulse of light/strike a corpse with a pulse of life, I spit on the Tidal it’s tidal waves, I spit on the apple and kill a worm”…yup, Jay Elect mos def still got it. “Finish Line” features everybody and their moms aka T Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Payne and Noname and is dope and “Blessings (Reprise)” ends the album with Chance asking us if we're ready for our blessings, “I speak of promised lands soil as soft as momma’s hands/running water standing still, endless fields of daffodils and chamomile/rice under black beans, walked into apple with cracked screens and told prophetic stories of freedom/found warmth in a black queen for when I get cold, like Nat King I’m doing the dad thing/I speak of wondrous unfamiliar lessons from childhood, make you remember how to smile good/I’m pre-currency post language anti label, pro famous I’m Broadway Joe Namath/Kanye’s best prodigy, he ain’t sign me but he proud of me, I got some ideas that you gotta see.” But my fave song on “Coloring Book” is the BANGER “Smoke Break” featuring Future. To be honest, I don’t even know how to explain how dope this song is. The beat is crazy, Chance KILLS it…hell, I ain’t even mad at Future’s part. Now ya’ll KNOW that’s saying something right there.
For the past 15+ years, I’ve worked with some of the hardest to reach teens in SE Washington DC and whenever folk ask me “what do these crazy new school teenagers need” the first thing out my mouth is always “Jesus.” And I literally mean that. Yeah, teen centers and programs like mine help some but no matter what I offer (and trust I offer a lot of out the box stuff like free haircuts and recording sessions for A’s & B’s) I know the majority of them are still gonna be out in the streets doing street ish. Back in the days I used to think, well maybe if one of their crew get shot or killed, that will wake em up…nope. Then it was maybe if they themselves get shot, yeah maybe that’ll wake em up…nah, no haps. Nowadays getting shot in the hood but not dying is a damn badge of honor. So, like my dude Jalil said “I said it once and I’ll say it again” they need Jesus if you really wanna change what’s going on out here in these streets and in these schools. (girl being murdered in school bathrooms and girls having sex with 25 dudes in school bathrooms) And Jesus is EXACTLY what Chance is bringing to the hoods all over the world with “Coloring Book.” My dude got at me the other day asking me was Chance a “gospel rapper?” I told dude nah, not in the least. Did you hear his song “Mixtapes?!?!?” I don’t think a “gospel rapper” is going to have lyrics like “now the 'lil b*%ch wanna know how the lips taste” on their album. But what I did tell my man was I think this is where Chance is right now in his walk through this game called life. And guess what? That’s a real dope thing to me because there are probably other rappers, singers, entertainers who may be at the same place but aren’t willing to be totally transparent to their audience to share Jesus. But not Chance, which is just another reason why I rock with dude so tough. So at the end of the day when there’s nothing left to say or do, all the folk who wanna see a change in hoods across America, need to be applauding Chance for bringing a much needed word to not only to the hood but to the entire world that most folk would never hear if they’re sleeping in on Sunday mornings. Salute.
4.5 outta 5 mics