There has been no album that toes the line between “secular” and “Christian” music so much as Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book.
If anything, it confirmed for me a point that I’ve been considering for years– that maybe that line shouldn’t exist. That maybe music isn’t explicitly Christian or explicitly secular. With this album, Chance makes me confront the fact that maybe God isn’t solely in one place at one time, favoring those believers who are most respectable, most pristine. This God, this spirituality, this higher power, this praise and worship, is indeed for everybody. What a dope notion to have sprung up at a time when much of our major spiritual groups push faith as exclusive and country club-esque.
This album makes me excited for music. No matter how subtle a move, Coloring Book is major Major MAJOR. So every now and then, I find myself shouting out my favorite lines as declarations to justify my thug or random ramblings to make myself feel like a rapper. These are a few of my favorites– the lines I shout in my kitchen and in my car most frequently.
“I don’t make songs for free, I make ‘em for freedom” — Blessings
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” (2nd Corinthians 3:17) and Chance is here to make people free. He’s making “the spirit of the Lord” accessible to even assumed heathens like us. I blurt this out when I want to say something epic and grimy, but with a slightly revolutionary feel.
My dream girl’s behind me, feel like I’m James Early
The type of worship make Jesus come back a day early
— “How Great”
I’d like to assume his “Dream Girls” are his lady and his baby girl, so this line is cute for me. And, of course, Chance is a master of erratic inflection so I specifically like the “James Early.” Then, the concept of a type of worship that makes Jesus come back a day early? LIT.
Jesus’s Black life ain’t matter/ I know, I talked to his daddy
There are very few visible rappers making genuine statements that are parallel to the movement that is happening all around us. Here, Chance makes an unmistakable connection between the Black Lives Matter and faith– one many of us have been pressuring leaders of the faith to make openly and actively. Chance does it with no hesitation; as he makes this statement, I think of him taking Chicago kids on field trips and hosting free shows, festivals and open mic nights for teens.
Man my daughter couldn’t have her a better mother!
If she ever find another, he better love her!
— “All We Got”
What I love most about this line is that it’s so contradictory to what we hear about baby mamas, main chicks, etc. Plus, his reckless inflection makes it seem so honest, which is all that we get from Chance: honesty, sincerity and genuine sentiment.
I’m feeling shortness of breath, so Nico grab you a horn/
Hit Jericho with a buzzer beater to end a quarter/
Watch brick and mortar fall like dripping water, ugh!
#MajorChurchKidAlert. Maybe if learning about Joshua and the battle of Jericho was this lit, I’d have been less resistant in Sunday School. He ties Donnie Trumpet in from the previous verse, which ties in the horn from the story and it’s all just so seamless, I can’t take it. The “Ugh” at the end is perfect punctuation.
The people’s champ must be everything the people can’t be.
— “Blessings” (reprise)
I think of who Chance is to the people of Chicago– how he pushes hope and happiness in a place folks will have you think is the murder capital of the world. Chance is hopeful where there is no hope and he’s happy in an industry where happiness is not nearly as pure as he makes it look.
IS YOU IS OR IS YOU AIN’T GOT GAAAAS MUHNAYYY?!
— “All Night”
Immediately, I’m thinking of the Tom and Jerry episode below– “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?!” I’m also thinking about back when we had to be earnest in asking the homies for gas money because we didn’t have NO ends. Gas money could make or break a friendship in a heartbeat, so I get it, Chance, I get it.
If Kika’s awesome album review doesn’t get you to listen to Coloring Book, maybe this brief sampling of what you’re missing might change your mind. The album is definitely worth the listen, and costs you absolutely nothing. I can barely talk about Coloring Book without the conversation leaning toward it being Album of the Year, and I’m not mad about that idea at all.