This just came out like... a few seconds ago lol but as soon as I saw the features list I knew I wasn't gonna sleep until I said something about it. Acid Rap was one of those mixtapes that was so impressive, so bold, such an earnest play for greatness that it became almost difficult to like it. Or, I should say, it became difficult for me to like it, because it involved Childish Gambino. I was impressed, of course, immediately and thoroughly, but it took me a bit to really start feeling it. In all honesty, it wasn't until I heard his verse on "Ultralight Beam" earlier this year that I fell in love.
In the context of that verse, all of his genre-fusing beats and clever punchlines and the way he laid bare his entire emotional spectrum switched instantly from "tryhard" or somehow "entitled" to "endearing" and (retrospectively obviously) "earned". The narrative created by contrasting his present-day degeneracy with the innocent memories of his childhood became super compelling. Basically, he became a Kanye-esque figure to me, and I knew that, to him, that would be the greatest compliment, and, once we were united in that, it all made sense.
I'm not sure if this makes sense, lol. I wasn't planning on doing this but good lord that tracklisting got me excited. All of the guests on Acid Rap (even, admittedly, Donglover) were brought to excellent fruition, and here on part 3 he's lived up to every hype imaginable, even the ones that didn't make sense. Kanye, Wayne. 2 Chainz. Beiber. Thugger and Yachty on the SAME TRACK. Alright alright, let's get going with this.
Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
1. All We Got
ft KANYE and the CHILDREN'S CHOIR OF CHICAGO. running back on ultralight beam maybe? AND WE BACK. oh man. the claps. the horns. that contrast already. he sounds SO HAPPY to be here. "this ain't no intro, this the entree", sounding like andre oh hell yeah. MY DAUGHTER COULDN'T HAVE A BETTER MOTHER maaaaaan OMG HE QUOTES THE ULB VERSE OMG i'm actually so happy. THE CHOIR. OH HELL YES. it's so happy and i'm so happy. YEEZY YEEZY with that huge round autotune sound MUSIC IS ALL WE GOT SO WE MIGHT AS WELL GIVE IT ALL WE GOT. "I might give Satan a swirly" LMFAO PLS. he's feeling himself SO MUCH right now. and the drums oh hell yeah. so trappy, so aggressive, with the choir and stuff??? this is the crazy synthesis that drove TLOP man. and kanye on the breakdown hnnng. just think about how happy this must make chano. and that makes you happy. which is what makes him happy. isn't that beautiful? WE KNOW WE KNOW WE GOT IT. and these HUGE HORNS. oh hell yes. ***
2. No Problem
hahaha oh man. WAYNE AND 2 CHAINZ. please. ahahaa oh man threatening the labels ofc. all for the music. i like how he can still flow really IGNANT y'know??? and it sounds like he's really into it. a skill donglover wholly lacks. and a FRIDAY REFERENCE, we in there. ahahaha the harmonizing on his label threat hahahaha man, i hope wayne woke up for his verse. he's been so 50/50 on it. oh yo i hear TWO CHAINZ ADLIBS TWOOOOO CHAAAAAAAINZ AHAHAHAHAHA OMG. YEEZUS SAID HE AIN'T MAAAAAKE THEM ahajOPJDxrugheoi POCKET FULL OF MONEY, MIND FULL OF IDEAS i'd laugh so hard if chano made all his guest verses drop acid before they wrote. THIS IS MY BLESSING, THIS IS MY PASSION, school of hard knocks did u know 2 chainz literally went to college? source: danny brown. WEEZY oh shit OH SHIT on this flow, i forgot about this one, his happy melodic flow, he invented this man i forgot. if he just goes like this for the rest of the song i'll be so happy. "fuck the watch, i'll buy you new arm" hahaha. "half a milli in the safe, another in the pillow case", these little images make me so happy. and the way he did chano's hook at the end oh man. that was so nice. all his heroes giving him verses. god DAMN. i'm so happy for him right now. literally look at lil chano from 79. this is a celebration. ***
3. Summer Friends
jeremih is hell yes voice of an angel man ESP with shlohmo production. idk who francis and the lights are? oh i guess they were on surf. this is a pretty pretty intro, i love the effects, the way they worm around the vocals. and then another SMOOTH ASS BEAT coming in. these beats are so WARM. LIKE SOCKS ON CONCRETE JOLLY RANCHER KISS lmao he described it perfectly just now. his flow rn is sick too. there's so much to it but it feels so natural and light. like a gift. he isn't making a big deal of how good it is, y'know? and this beat is actually sick too. those brushes on the snare hnnng its almost asmr or w/e. all these memories of chicago... hot summer nights... aw yeah. 79, 79. i wonder if i got close to there when i was in chicago and accidentally took the bus too far south and got scared. this has a real nice melancholy feel and WOAH the way it dropped out for a second at 3min in, that was super slick, really inspired. and the way he like... works out his flow here... citywide citywide citywide... ahhhahahaha. i am honestly super impressed with this. and what's this sample at the end here? sounds like some GKMC shit. ahhhh oh hell yeah jeremih, so smooth, a liquid voice. and this swell of voices, the swell of memories, and the strings??? wtf how did they do that??? **
4. D.R.A.M. Sings Special
DRAM i've seen on a few things, he's buds with lil boat. i think he was on surf too. this is like... close to a kids' song, y'know? it's almost painfully sincere, you assume there must be something else going on, it's that assumption that hurts. BUT oh no it's just gonna sound NICER and NICER. that little distortion though... there's something else going on... *
a track with this sorta title can only go one way. and it is this way. that church basement rehearsal core. and then the BLESSINGS COME DOWN and we're smack dab in the middle of another godly beat. "It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap" well man MAN if you make music like this, it's all earned a hundred times over. talkin to god, having a very different conversation than Ye did lOL. ahaha man. i love it. i think i nailed it when i called it church basement rehearsal core, which was meant to be a big compliment. big wide windows with the suicide doors? dude that's... very dark. "I'm at war with my wrongs, I'm writing four different songs", man the connection here. ahaha oh man. he's caught up in his images here. he's feeling it. and the storm coming in? god good every time i think it's gonna be a straightforward track they just throw in some PLUS ULTRA shit. that's the kanye attitude to songwriting and it is wonderful. "Are you ready for your miracle?" uh yes: when i wake up this blog will be the "new pitchfork.com". **
6. Same Drugs
a track with this sorta title has never gone in this direction before. wow. this is actually a very real message. this could imply something incredibly sad. oh shit dude. i don't think i'm ready for this one. and that piano, and those gospel choirs... "she don't clap the same way no more" oh my god :( i feel like this should be "objectively corny", but chano is making me feel it. these backing vocals and stuff, the slight echo, oh my god, this could build into something really nuts. ah no the retreat, that too, and the piano solo... i love how they've recorded the piano. all i can think is "church basement" and it's making me so happy. oh man. will it build up again? "Don't forget the happy thoughts"... "Back when everything we read was real and everything we said rhymed" or something like that :( this is almost AnCo esque in a strange way. like "Bros" sorta. "Stay on the line, stay on the line" isn't this supposed to be in like Kendrick's voice on "u"?? damn man. how'd he get away with making a track like that? it isn't supposed to be that eeeasy. **
FEATURING YOUNG MOTHERFUCKING THUG AND LIL BOAT. OH MY GOD. these adlibs. OH MY GOD. this would be AOTY just for bringing these two together. ALL OVER THEIR LOVE OF MIXTAPES, the common ground of all three. oh my god. he knew exactly what we wanted, the double adlibs. it is like a dream too good for me to have had. and chano on his thugger type flow and why do i believe it??? how is he doing all of this?? THEY GOTTA ASK IF THEY MAAAAAAY, like cinco de mayo PLEASE, shots at label rappers. oh my god i can feel the verses lurking. i can feel incredible verses lurking. SHE CURIOUS, SHE CURIOOOOUS. real real real real. OH SHIT. THUGGER TRIPLET FLOW. OHHHH MY GOOOOOOOOD going way tf in IN THAT CHOPPER I SEE OUR PERIMETER way up in his falsetto, going to heaven now brb. the fact that there are people who will say this is the worst part of the album is making me upset already ahahahaha. its TOO REAL for them. but chano understands. okay here comes our boy yachty, the furthest one out there, the upper limit of rip. AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO REALLY CARE ABOUT COVER ART??? oh my god this is like his GOD FLOW MAKING MORE THAN HIS DENTIST. FUCK THEM REVIEWS THEY PUT IN THE PAPER, they fuck with me cause i'm different, boat from the 6, my GOD. this is perfection. this is exactly what it needed to be to not be disappointing because this is like way too much talent. ***
idk who Saba is. it's a caribbean island. oh okay. "I'm the blueprint to a real man!", man i love u chano. really going in right now, shoulda signed me on ovo, sharing with keef, THIS IS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE WHEN GOD SPLITS AN ATOM WITH ME, i guess this Saba with the STEEL DRUMS, hat with a halo. this is maybe TOO MUCH FUN, like i might never stop listening to this again. shoutouts to kevin gates. "Too many young angels on the south side" oh shit that's actually hella sad. how is it that chano came from like the most violent place in america? how does any of this add up? what a miracle. maaaaan i love those steel drums on the hook hahaha maaan. what a great idea. the abruptness of them. and the trumpet, of course. real dance in your seat core haha nah maybe it's even stand up and dance core. the synths on this outro are sick too, real wonky. im loooving it. **
9. Juke Jam
feat the BEEBS and Towkio?? i have vaguely heard of towkio i think. and now he's on a track with mr. billion views. "I used to talk way too much, you used to know everything" nice subtle relationship summary. i love the spacey lowkey feel of this one... such a nice contrast to everything so far. the decay of his voice into the hook is pretty sick. "We can have a party just listening to music" that actually sounds so nice... and hell yeah here's the beebs, here's the voice that romanced every preteen. i get it tbh. he's good at this shit. dancin' to chris brown with his ex, he feels enraptured by his own memory like uhhh Sun Kil Moon lmao. it's funny cause... chicago juke sounds nothing like this LOL. this is the least RP Boo-ish song on the album lol. but i'm still feeling it. and the acoustic guitar. shit why does all this stuff WORK??? *
10. All Night
okay this is more like juke LOL. idk who knox fortune is, maybe the guy in the intro? maybe the singer here? man and again this wonderful new inventive sound... "Long discussions... is you my cousin? oh no, you just want a RIDE" ahahahaha. too real. man. the fact that this isn't about the club but the fun right after "you just wanna spill fries on the seats", "she fart on the seats, now she jogging on the streets" ahahahahahAHAHA man this is too real ahahahaha. kanye would never make a track like this ahahahaha. what a hilarious level of money. **
11. How Great
ft, the rare jay elect and... my cousin Nicole?? yeah okay. if thug can rap with his sisters, chano can get his cousin sure. PURE GOSPEL intro, and they're really feeling it, this is like the sound of 2016 i guess, those slight electro influences creeping in... i really love it tbh. this is just... close your eyes and smile core. but then i might make too many typos lol. i wonder if nicole is the lead singer here? oh man the way the auto tone shimmering sound is becoming more pronounced, and the bass line, that's actually such a great effect. i can see why jay's on this one that dude loves god. wow we're almost at the halfway point tho and still no rapping hahahaha. AHHHHHH, and then that beat. ahhhhhh yes. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yes. "God is better than the world's best thing", is this that ontological argument? i can't remember what it was called. "The book don't end with Malachi", the use of words like this makes me all shivery in a good way. Jay going in man, too decisive to sound tryhard, just LAYING that shit down. but is chano gonna CONTROL him again? "I might just shrug at the skulduggery" o that's a new one for hip hop or at least non-aesop rock. WAIT WAIT this is definitely Jay, I guess that was Chano the whole time before? unsure. well whatever. it's ALL GOOD. like actually so good. this is just linguistic joy. Oh son of man, oh son of man. holy shit. no dude. he's undoing the control! he's uncontrolling! lol. good ass job. **
12. Smoke Break
we just be smoking a bowl, we just be smoking a bowl yuuup this sounds like future territory. these little slices of a busy relationship, oooooooh dude the breakdown at :48 was niiiiiiiice. and again a choral sort of swell, "We deserve a smoke break" "Netflix and roll" LOL and OH MY GOD the instrumentals here... what the hell was that? TRAP HOUSE THREE GUWOP FREE GUCCI. the message here is legitimately endearing and very real... but i wanna see future go nuts on this dude. i wanna hear fast rap future making music of chicago. yessssssss. YESSSSSS. now it's the best album. "You hear the chains when they cling" and then we actually do. man. future really feeling himself on this flow, and just like... delivering a gigantic solid verse. to be completely honest i wasn't sure if he gave that much of a shit anymore hahaha. but everyone loves chano~ they do it for him~. every feature on this album has been FANTASTIC. **
13. Finish Line/Drown
awww man we on the way out. i'm legit sad hahahaha. this one's gonna be a barnburner tho. feature list too long to quote. "They ain't teach you taxes in school/Didn't even matter, I was actin a fool" hahaha. and then a harry potter joke pls. "Last year I got addicted to Xans, started forgetting my name and forgetting my chance" oh damn dude. he quotes his dog's age in dog years i think. man. and this boppy kid's themesong core instrumental, and this gospel swell oh man. "We in a marathon we could build a marriage on", "I know you aren't supposed to tell someone you think they drive an Uber whip" hahahaha. man. there's so many good lines on this song. maaaan i can't believe i'm feeling this so much. it's SO HAPPY. this shit isn't supposed to work on me ahaahhahaa agahajala. "Alright, we got it", so... is that the finale? and this?? the post-script? the epilogue? so jazzy... and yet so spacey... that combination is known as outkasty and i don't use that word lightly. oooh this is Eryn Allen Kane i think daaaaaamn DAMN man. "She like a Jesus mounted high, so he can watch her lonely child", EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING shoutouts to lauryn the goddess. ahhh man. hey where was t-pain on this though? Is that KIRK FRANKLIN awww yeah, the guy who did the closing prayer on ultralight beam, ahhhhhhh do you see how wonderful the significance of that is? This water is deep. Beautiful... ***
dude two tracks with the same name? one halfway through and one at the end?? IS THIS MOUNT EERIE?? no it is the least like that of any album. ooh. oh man. he's making this play. and it's working. omg. "Kanye's best prodigy/He ain't signed me, but he's proud of me". holy shit. holy shit. can he actually do this for 4 minutes? my god. all of these lyrics. omg. and the lion king reference. it's 90000% better than donglover's joke that he ripped off das racist. omg. ARE YOU READY. dude and the message is just: i did it, and it was amazing, and you can do it too, you just have to be ready for your miracle. oh my god. on some level i think this is heartbreaking but on all other levels wonderful. an overwhelming sherbet-coloured burst of light. what a beautiful idea. Ahhh man. and then we'll just vibe out... to this wonderful celebration of music and love... everyone coming together now... sheesh. YOU READY, BIG FELLA? ***
Let's make it so free and the bars so hard that there ain't one gosh darn part you can't tweet!
Ahhh wow I had no idea I was gonna like it that much. I don't think any description would have convinced me. Even that insane features list wasn't enough. It really just doesn't add up. I wouldn't have believed that he could make hood shit with 2 Chainz and a chilling track about drug usage and uplifting gospel bangers with Jay Electronica. I wouldn't have believed he could sustain the quality of sound, that richness and wholeness and complexity, that we heard on Acid Rap. I would have called bullshit if you said that the stars aligned to have Weezy, Future, Thugger, Yachty, and even Kanye, would all bring A-game features. I never would never have guessed that an album this happy, this inspirational, this forward with its message of "are you ready for your miracle", could actually work on me, could bring me out of the funk AMSP dropped me in (at least for now, lol). Really, the only other albums that could ever deliver on that many promises were Kanye's.
Saying that this is a Kanye-tier project is not only a gigantic compliment coming from a Stan like me, but is I think a really interesting avenue to compare the two and highlight some of the great strengths of Coloring Book. Like TLOP, it's a multi-genre exploration with a gospel backbone and a message of (super simplified) "well, this is my life, its got its ups and downs, but overall I'm pretty thankful".
The supporting cast on both are huge and varied, cutting a swath through geography, success, genre, and era, but the difference in how these guests are treated leads us to the central contrast. Look at Thugger on "Highlights" vs "Mixtapes"... on the former, Kanye distills him to the very essence of his sound, sprinkling him into a greater sound that is uniquely his. On the latter, Thugger is given the chance to go off with a verse as elaborate as any on his own projects, and the sound of the whole bends to accommodate this style. Sure, it still ends up a unique blend of Thugger relentless trappiness, Chano's signature "church cookout party" vibes, and Yachty's waviness, which is beyond words, but it's a significant blend of these external elements.
Even Chano himself is an accommodating host. Beyond shifting his style and flow to suit each guest, he really loses himself in the appeal of their unique abilities... like, he wants to do a "Future flow", so he makes his own Future flow, and it's clear that he had an absolute blast doing it, and through that you understand the fun of Future in a new way. Kanye switches his styles, too, but only on his own whims, his own conditions, and he's just as likely to rampage across a track with something that no one could facilitate, or even predict.
So I guess it's mostly a question of ego. They both feel blessed, sure, but Chano is humbled by the opportunity whereas Kanye revels in the power it brings him. There were dozens of lines I heard even on this first pass that could have been as memetic as "Have you ever had sex with a pharaoh? etc", but he's content to let them sit snugly in their verses, sometimes almost indiscernible through his godlike flow. Kanye wants to hear that shit screamed back to him at every concert. He wants to put it on a t-shirt.
I hope I'm not seeming too negative about Kanye here. It would be the first time I have ever done that. It isn't that one way is better or worse than the other. And some of Chance's best moments on the album come when he makes a really self-championing play... the only way you're gonna let all these famous rappers do their thing on their tracks is if you know you can fire back with a verse just as good: and he does, again and again. The only way you can say some of the stuff he does and not worry about sounding corny is from conviction in your ideas. And, best of all, on the last track, when he just straight up raps his manifesto, he swings for the fences and shatters the lights.