Look at little Chano from 79th.

It’s been a long three years for Chance The Rapper. After turning hip-hop on it’s head with the release of the highly acclaimed Acid Rap, a fresh, bright, laid back, and powerful project out of Chicago, an area at the time run by drill rap artists like Chief Keef, Lil Herb, and King Louie, Chance seemingly skyrocketed to the top with hip-hop’s elite, getting featured on tracks with huge names like Justin Bieber, Childish Gambino, and others. Instead of hopping back in the studio and putting out his follow up, Chance took the next few years as time for himself and his city, organizing a free festival for Chicago youth, dropping collaborative albums with his friends(Donnie Trumpet‘s album Surf and his mixtape with Lil B, Free) , and raising a family. In fact, it wasn’t until last October that he announced he was back in the studio, playing new songs on his Family Matters tour. Earlier this year he was featured on Kanye West‘s latest album The Life of Pablo on the track UltraLight Beam where he mentions working with Kanye on the tape, with the lines “I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail, He said let’s do a good ass job with Chance three, I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy, let’s make it so free and the bars so hard that there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet”. The more Chance 3 was mentioned, the hungrier the fans got. The hype surrounding Coloring Book was well deserved, and after listening to the project as a whole, it lives up to every ounce.

Chance’s third solo project is just as colorful and vibrant as the name suggests. Each track brings its own unique sound and has its own message to convey, but it all fits together like a beautifully crafted puzzle. The tape ties in elements of gospel, which in evident in tracks like All We Got, Blessings, and How Great. With background vocals from the Chicago Children’s Choir, All We Got feels evangelical. Chance opens the tape using the song to speak on the state of his life and the power he feels in his music, celebrating everything he’s acheived so far. Kanye delivers a heavily autotuned chorus about how they should put everything into their music because it’s all they have. The 2nd to last track The Finish Line/Drown feels like an all out gospel song, from the grounded instrumental to the featured vocals from Kirk Franklin. No Problem is a major standout on the tape, featuring rap heavyweights 2Chainz and Lil Wayne. Once Chance starts with “If one more label try to stop me, it’s gon be some dread head niggas in your lobby, HUH HUH” and the beat drops, you’re instantly excited, and can’t help but head bob. The chorus is infectious(YOU DON’T WANT NO PROBLEMS, WANT NO PROBLEMS WITH ME), and you’re sure to see it all over twitter for the next few months. The features are solid, with a short and to the point verse from 2Chainz and a punchline filled sing rapped verse from Wayne. The features on the tape are a pretty big flex from Chance, seeing a guy with no label deal, basically eating off of a couple mixtapes, having names like Future, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, and Jay Electronica on his latest. The best part about it is, they don’t come without reason. Future over Smoke Breaks laid back instrumental is especially unique and unexpected. Mixtape, an ode to putting effort into free releases, features Young Thug and Lil Yachty, two artists whose entire careers have been supported by their free efforts. How Great sees Chance and Jay Electronica preaching the rap gospel with lyrical precision. There’s thought behind every track on this tape, blending pieces of gospel, real rap, pop, and a number of elements that come together to make the happiest record of the year.

For Chancellor Bennett, blessings just keep falling in his lap. It’s easy to tell from the beginning that Coloring Book is a project filled with love, dedication, and two years of preparation. Chance went from 10 day suspension to one of the top artists in the game by not compromising, by taking the DIY route with his career, and it has really paid off in the end. This is evidence of how far you can go and what the outcome can be if you have faith and rely on yourself. He poured his soul into this, making a love letter to his city, his religion, and his craft, all the while giving us quotable lines like “and any petty Peter Pettigrew can get the pesticide.” Using all the resources and experiences he’s amassed over the past 3 years and channeling them made for one of the best projects of the year so far.  He shows us that time is only relative, that patience and attention to detail make a big difference when it comes to quality.

Final Verdict: 8/10