Published May 16, 2016Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join these genres, rap and gospel, in holy matrimony. Officiating over the ceremony is none other than lyrical clergyman Chance the Rapper.
Indeed, while most MCs waste precious bars on lustful boasts, Chance effortlessly evokes true love in a single couplet, spitting: "Man, my daughter couldn't have a better mother / If she ever find another, he better love her," as horn players blast a forthright "Amen!" That moment serves as the emotional crux of "All We Got," the opening track of Chance's new mixtape, Coloring Book.
It's also the first of many such transcendent moments on this gloriously accomplished release: Chance's zealous lyrical gratitude to the most high, over soulful organ notes, on "Blessings," the spine-tingling "oohs" of the backing choir, mingling with minimalist piano and strategic string notes on "Same Drugs." Of course, like any prodigal son, he also has some compelling transgressions, the best of which comes when he unleashes gleeful aggression on the mixtape's catchiest song, "No Problem." Sometimes, it's hilarious; he tops any of guest 2 Chainz's one-liners on that track pre-emptively on "All We Got," where he threatens to "give Satan a swirlie."
More impressive still is Chance's openhearted vulnerability and saintly humility throughout Coloring Book. For the former, he vividly recounts both the absentee dads in his Chicago slum and his mother's tireless efforts over Francis and the Lights' haunting, Bon Iver-esque singing on "Summer Friends." Meanwhile, his humility shines through on countless occasions, be it relinquishing the opening track's first moments to Donnie Trumpet's horn squeals, his shoutouts to mentors like Kanye West, or damn near the entirety of the closing, epic praise hymn "Finish Line / Drown."
Coloring Book is a spirited musical sermon, and Chance's fellow MCs will covet its perfect union of gospel and rap. Those other rappers had better speak now, or forever hold their peace. (Independent)