Chance the Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’

Soaring Gospel, Horns, and a Touch of Thug

From MC Hammer (“Pray”) to Kanye West (“Jesus Walks”) to the oxymoronically religious side of the otherwise murderous DMX, faith-based rap has only surfaced intermittently in pop culture over the past decades. Now drops an album that Run-DMC’s Rev. Run would love. References to sermons, serpents, Uber, and Auntie ’Yonce (as in Queen B) abound on this Chicagoan’s third mixtape, its production girded by soaring gospel choruses. “This ain’t no intro; it’s the entrée,” Chance proclaims, setting things off to a horn-y start with the brass-laden, increasingly dramatic “All We Got” (featuring West). With its club-hopping pulse, “All Night” benefits from the lazy drag of Chance’s delivery. Hesitant piano and scatting inform the wistful “Same Drugs.” “D.R.A.M. Sings Special” is straight-up inspirational, all synth washes and females chanting, “Everyone is special!” As for hard-core fiends craving a touch of thug, no problem: ColleGrove tag team/new BFFs 2 Chainz and Lil’ Wayne sully things up Dirty South–style on lead single “No Problem.”

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