There’s one thing you need to understand about Chancelor Bennett: he’s happy and he’s unafraid to show it and more than happy to share it. Though he’s come a long way from his debut 10 Days, in a lot of ways he’s still that same snowball of self-confidence and swagger.
The opening number is energetic autotuned anthem, All We Got (Feat. Kanye West), and from the moment its gentle chorus kicks in the album Coloring Book promises us with a incarnation of Chance initially unfamiliar to us, but one we’re happy to embrace. As with Acid Rap, he’s still game to share the spotlight and yield the benefits of collaboration without breaking from the authenticity that drew audiences to him to begin with.
From here, it’s all uphill. No Problem is a catchy rejection of invasive record labels, while Same Drugs is a slower love song with a hell of a hook. Arriving at the halfway mark, Angels (Feat. Saba) is the clear highpoint of the album. A playful frantic reflection on Chance’s own providence, the lyrics, rhythms and empathic joy almost seep into you.
The final stretch of the album almost acts like an interesting mirror to the first half. Juke Jam takes things to a slower place, while the bombastic All Night charges headfirst into how fame has changed Chance’s life:
“I don’t trust no one faking like a fan, asking for a pic / You should use your phone, call a Uber/ You a goofy if you think I don’t know you need a lyft.”
Meanwhile, How Great lets the gospel choir that’s been lurking in the background of most songs take center stage. Don’t let that description saddle the song, however, it’s every bit as good as the rest of the record.
Chance has always been humble about his success, but the religious dimension expressed in Coloring Book casts a different light on him. It feels like the work of an artist who’s confident enough his work that he trusts his audience to follow him down a rabbithole that some hip-hop fans might be wary of. It’s hard not be in awe, and it’s harder still not to sing along.