Music Review: Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book reveals a vibrant changed life

College students across the country are fans of Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, known professionally as Chance the Rapper. He is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor and Grammy Award winner from Chicago. Two of our writers reviewed his most recent album, Coloring Book.

Emma Gaddy
Oxford Stories

chance-the-rapperChance the Rapper recently took home three Grammys, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album, for his latest record, Coloring Book. The 23-year-old from Chicago beat out rap icons, such as Kanye and Drake, for the coveted Best Rap Album Award.

Any person who enjoys hip-hop/rap music can listen to Coloring Book and know it has great music, powerful lyrics, and a unique sound that a lot of today’s albums lack. There’s also a story behind the music.

Chancelor Jonathan Bennett grew up in Chicago in a stable home with loving parents. He always knew he wanted to be a musician, and started writing songs as early as 14. However, Chance began to get involved with the wrong crowd, and began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. His early music describes the lifestyle he was living with numerous drug references and lyrics that he says he is not proud of today.

After living the fast life for a few years, Chance had a moment with his grandmother that he says changed him. His grandmother prayed that the Lord would take all of the negative things out of his life.

Coloring Book is the perfect illustration of this change. The album features numerous songs about the relevance of God in Chance’s life and the blessings he has experienced since giving his life over to Him.

The song “How Great” features strong back-up vocalists that enable the listener to feel as if they are experiencing the music live, and they give the song its own unique sound. Every song on Coloring Book is authentically Chance.

Emily Reynolds
Oxford Stories

Featured on multiple artists’ albums, Chance the Rapper is one of the few successful and popular artists working today without a signed label. Chance recently won three Grammy awards. I re-listened to Chance’s newest album, Coloring Book, and I can see why Chance the Rapper is so popular, as his music is nothing like anything else heard.

c201512-coty-chance-the-rapper-acid-rapColoring Book is Chance’s most recent album, and it is more reaching than anything previous he has created. His very first mixtape, 10 Day, was a small, yet rooted odyssey of his early life in Chicago and his troubles growing up. These aspects continued in his next album, Acid Rap, which contained songs about being a “Chain Smoker” and confessions of “cigarettes on cigarettes.”

With Coloring Book, Chance observes things, such as, “We don’t do the same drugs no more,” over acoustic piano, and there is such a beauty behind it that really evokes emotion from the audience. Chance’s rapping and lyrics are original. His music appeals to a wide audience.

“Music is all we got,” Chance sings in “All We Got.” This is the first song on the album, and it features his hometown Chicago Children’s Choir and Kanye West. The collaboration did not overshadow Chance’s talents.

His vocals and music ideology are now almost fully dedicated to God and being high on life. “I get my Word from the sermon. I do not talk to the serpent. That’s a holistic discernment,” he raps before threatening to “give Satan a swirly.” Although his liveliness remains intact, his true beliefs and feelings are amplified as never before, and I feel this speaks to his listeners and gives people ways to channel what they might be feeling or dealing with in their own life.

Coloring Book is one of the strongest rap albums released this past year, and the music industry also thought so because Chance the Rapper won “Best Rap Album Of The Year” at the Grammys. Coloring Book is a more rewarding listen than most rap albums, and has such a fearless and adventurous side. Chance’s album is personal and well-rounded.

Chance the Rapper is defying hip-hop norms while still respecting them. Chance produced this album that shows genre can dig deeper into its roots, and not all rap has to be the same, or centered around similar contexts.


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