chance the rapper - coloring book / by Zack Free

chance the rapper is one of the most immediately likable figures in popular music. he's a seemingly inexhaustible well of positive energy; even when he's reflecting on the grim state of his hometown of chicago, chance muses in vibrant color. he also happens to be one of the most expressive, innovative mcs in hip hop, and coloring book, his third official mixtape (not counting his contributions to donnie trumpet and the social experiment's excellent surf), puts his talents on panoramic display. musically, its his richest sounding work, all chipmunked choirs and explosive brass, and an exercise in the maximalism that his mentor, kanye west, has mastered. accordingly, it works as a thematic companion to west's life of pablo, released only a few months before coloring book. likely the products of a shared creative space, both projects are conspicuously spiritual in nature, though chance's takes his devotionals a step further. whereas pablo evoked religion as just another element of kanye's constant evolution, coloring book channels the pure ecstasy of gospel music into what is effectively an extended church service. he calls upon a host of guest speakers (including kanye, jay electronica, young thug, and justin bieber), but the congregation's attention never drifts too far from the preacher. he's an incredibly gifted performer, able to evoke the spirit of praise even in a markedly secular setting (see his incredible performance of "finish line / drown" on saturday night live) or with ostensibly secular topics ("smoke break", for example, is a particularly spirited ode to packing bowls). coloring book is teeming with the infectious energy of one of hip hop's new legends, and it's nearly impossible to ignore