“On Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’, Chance The Rapper boasts, “I made ‘Sunday Candy’, I’m never going to hell / I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail.” The lyric and the song set the tone for Chance’s first solo project since his 2013 breakthrough Acid Rap, Coloring Book, a mixtape that focuses the rap-meets-gospel aspirations of The Life of Pablo into a ray of sunshine that illuminates concerns both worldly and heavenly.
On last year’s Surf, Chance subsumed himself into the Social Experiment, trying his best to step out of the spotlight, highlight his collaborators and be a bandleader. It was a pleasant experiment, but those hoping for a proper follow-up to Acid Rap were probably disappointed; Surf belongs to the collective, not Chance.
Thankfully, even as he’s brought in more collaborators than ever, balancing legendary (Kanye, Lil Wayne), contemporary (Future, Jeremih) and compatriot (Towkio, Saba, his cousin Nicole) without losing focus. His voice and personality are so strong that even when Justin Bieber does a bridge and Jay Electronica drops a verse, both are treated like NBD afterthoughts. There is no doubt that Coloring Book is Chance’s record.”