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A crash course on Chance the Rapper's new mixtape 'Coloring Book'

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

After months of anticipation, Chance the Rapper's latest mixtape, Coloring Book, was finally released last night. For the last week, we've been taunted by his smiling face on billboards and bus stops around the city, teasing the debut of his third solo project. If you haven't managed to make your way through the Chicago-based rapper's latest work (or, even if you have), we've assembled a crash course on the record that should answer all your questions.  

How can I listen to Coloring Book?

Currently, the only way to hear Chance's latest is to stream it via Apple Music. First-time users get a free three-month trial, otherwise it's $9.99 per month. The mixtape was briefly available for download through DatPiff, where Chance has distributed his previous releases, but the file was removed this morning.

Will I be able to stream Coloring Book on Spotify, Tidal, etc.?

We're not sure when (or if) Coloring Book will make its way to Spotify and other streaming platforms, but it will likely be exclusive to Apple Music for at least two weeks, just like Drake's recent album, Views. Chance has not traditionally released his work on Spotify or Tidal, with the exception of a few singles.

You mean I can't actually buy a copy of Coloring Book?

Not at the moment. Chance has never been one for physical releases of his music—he releases his mixtapes digitally and free of charge (though you might have to pay for an Apple Music subscription). Opportunistic bootleggers sometimes create CD and vinyl versions of Chance's records. If you see one, don't buy it—it's not an official release. If you must buy something, you can head to Chance's website and grab a customized T-shirt, sweatshirt or hat.

What's the record like?

If you've heard previous singles "Angels" or "Blessings" (both are included on Coloring Book) you know that Chance has a habit of creating hip-hop that blends genres. His latest mixtape draws on gospel, jazz and trap influences, taking cues from the various guest artists featured throughout the tracklist. Lyrically, Chance touches on his childhood in Chicago, his Christian faith, his drug use, his continued status as artistic free agent and his thoughts about fatherhood—there's a lot to unpack and the folks over at Genius are already hard at work cataloging each reference.

Guests, you say? Who else is on the record?

Coloring Book is littered with guest artists, including plenty of recognizable, high-profile names. Kanye West shows up to sing some auto-tuned verses on opening track "All We Got," Justin Bieber contributes a refrain to "Juke Jam," and Future turns in a hazy verse on "Smoke Break." Other notable featured artists include Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Young Thug, T-Pain and Jay Electronica as well as Chicago artists Jeremih, Saba, Eryn Allen Kane and Towkio. Chance even put his cousin Nicole on a track (that's how she's credited) and enlisted the Chicago Children's Choir.

That's a lot of people. But how is Chance?

Chance turns in some of his most self-assured and sincere performances to date on Coloring Book, from the nostalgic, autobiographical flow of "Summer Friends" to the revealing, deeply personal verses that populate "Finish Line." He even does some great singing on the record, stretching his formidable vocal chords on the sparse piano ballad "Same Drugs." Most importantly, he's a versatile collaborator who knows how to shape his ideas around the producers and artists he works with. The work is reminiscent of the early output of another Chicago emcee, one who Chance acknowledges with the lyric, "Kanye’s best prodigy / He ain’t signed me but he still proud of me."

When will we get to hear Chance perform these tracks?

The Chicago native doesn't currently have any concerts scheduled in his hometown, though that could change. Chance usually plays a single show each year in Chicago—last year he headlined Pitchfork and in April of 2016 he performed at the Chicago Theatre. Right now, the nearest confirmed show is at the Summer Set festival in Somerset, Wisconsin, August 12–14.

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