It has been 1 month since Chance the Rapper blessed the world with the release of his third free mixtape, Coloring Book, to mass acclaim, although the comparative critics remain. With 3 masterful tapes rounding out his current catalog, Chance is only 23 years old, showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.
PSA: Chance The Rapper Is Only 23 Years Old
“Chance the Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ is First Streaming-Exclusive Album to Chart on Billboard 200” – Billboard
“Three Marketing Takeaways From Chance The Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ Roll-Out” – Forbes
“Sources: Chance The Rapper near club ambassador deal with White Sox” – ESPN
“You deserve happiness, so watch Chance the Rapper perform Show Me Love in a teddy bear sweater” – The Verge
“Chance The Rapper Named Chicagoan Of The Year” – HotNewHipHop
“Chance the Rapper Colors Outside Lines” – Time Magazine
Some joyous, some impressive, & some simply unbelieveable; Above are just a minuscule handful of some of the headlines surrounding the newsworthy figure that is Chance the Rapper. More impressive, the fact that these headlines are all from within the last ~6 months (All within the last 2 or so months, with exception to the “Chicagoan Of The Year” nod). Even MORE impressive, Chance the Rapper, born Chancellor Bennett is only 23 years old.
Just about a month ago, the very same 23 year old dropped Coloring Book, his long (“long” is modest, as a die hard fan it felt like an eternity) awaited follow-up to the 2013 critically acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap. Welcomed with worldwide praise, the project also elicited the same mono-reaction that it seems like everything is prescribed these days, sighs of “well, it’s not like the last one…”. Aside from the fact that Coloring Book is a early front-runner for Album Of The Year in 2016 which has seen releases from the likes of Kanye West & Drake, including a possible groundbreaking Grammy nomination (S/O to the Chano Fam – sign the petition here), certain fans can’t help but make the comparison to his prior projects, citing difference as the main fault. Well, for those certain few, consider this as a public service announcement:
CHANCE THE RAPPER IS 23 YEARS OLD. WHEN ACID RAP DROPPED CHANCE THE RAPPER WAS 20 YEARS OLD, 18 YEARS OLD FOR 10 DAY . IN THE LAST 3 YEARS, IN ADDITION TO FEATS DETAILED IN THE 6 HEADLINES ABOVE, CHANCE THE RAPPER HAS HAD A CHILD, SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED MULTIPLE TOURS, DROPPED SURF WITH FRIENDS, WROTE A SONG ON HIS HERO’S ALBUM, RAISED $100,000 FOR COATS FOR THE LESS FORTUNATE, PERFORMED FREE SHOWS FOR THE KIDS, PROTESTED FOR THE PEOPLE, AND RELEASED ANOTHER ALBUM, FOR FREE. IF THIS ISN’T CONSIDERED “CHANGE”* FOR THE BETTER, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.
*I strongly oppose the term “change”, in this case especially. Growing as a person, in so many wonderful ways, is a lot different than “you changed, bro”. But I mean, what do I know?
Now, let me break this down a little bit for those who might not know (/might not be lame forum stans like myself). As the story goes, a then 18 year old Chance dropped 10 Day after getting suspended for 10 days from Jones Prep in Chicago for allegedly getting caught smoking marijuana in the school parking lot – the mixtape was released, and became a Chicago cult classic, slowing making its way to a few obscure rap fans all over North America. A little over a year later, a few days after his 20th birthday, Acid Rap was unleashed for the low, low price of $free.99 and quickly became a viral smash. To put the magnitude in context, Chance the Rapper toured for 3 YEARS off of 1 free mixtape (I saw him 3 times during this span, and don’t worry, he managed to out-do himself every-damn-time), leading to collabs with the likes of Kanye West, Madonna, Lil Wanye, Lil B (#TYBG), Skrillex, J. Cole, & Justin Bieber… just to name a few. Then, a young man, truly experiencing the world at the peak of youth, having the time of his life and helping everyone he could along the way.
Now, 23, the new father to a beautiful baby girl, Kinsley Bennett, Chance the Rapper is man with an entirely new drive; Like Nat King, he’s doing the dad thing. His last tour – my personal favourite (thanks, Colleen) – titled “Family Matters” put not only the emphasis of blood into perspective, but the true definition of family. Flocking across the united states, Chance brought out Metro Boomin, D.R.A.M., Towkio, and his band The Social Experiment, his musical family of sorts, to sing the songs of community. NEVER have I ever heard a crowd sing along so loudly, than that 3rd encore in Seattle, WA.
The latest project, Coloring Book, is an embodiment of growth over the last 3 years. Tied together with the twine of faith, the 15 tracks (w/ “Grown Ass Kid”) flutter through speakers straight into the soul, only re-emerging as a smile on the listeners face. “No Problem” the summer slapper, “Same Drugs” the song to reminisce too, “Smoke Break” the 2AM time machine, “Finish Line/ Drown” the 2016 B-side to “Pusha Man/ Paranoia”, & “Blessing II” which is perhaps the most glorious piece of music that has been released in years. No, it’s not Acid Rap, because it’s not meant to be. The bars are still there, as GOD LEVEL’S (according to ‘Ye), and same exuberant 18/20 year old shines with playful punchlines & smokers delight here and there, but Coloring Book is different. It’s simply just something you can’t put your finger on yet, and it might be decades before we truly understand the magnitude of the trilogy ending with Chance 3.
So, to those who say “Chance will never make a better project that Acid Rap”, well, he already did. But that’s beside the point. Chance the Rapper is 23 YEARS OLD. Kanye West was 32 when MBDTF dropped, Em’ 28 when MMLP dropped, and Jay-Z 31 when The Blueprint dropped, just to put age in perspective. So being 23 years old, with 3 CERTIFIED BLASSIC’s isn’t the worst thing. In fact, saying that a 20 year old Chance was able to produce the best work he ever will, at a similar level to some of the most legendary rap albums is almost a compliment, but isn’t wholly true. Chance the Rapper is 23, his life just getting starting, his career still budding, and he hasn’t even sold a single damn song yet. There’s no slowing down, because we haven’t even seen him hit full speed yet.
The question isn’t “will Chance the Rapper be able to one-up himself?”, but rather “are you ready, for your blessing?”
Two words; One Love,