Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Coloring Book, the Christian Religion, and the Black millennial

     "Coloring Book", the highly anticipated 3rd mixtape by Chicago MC Chance the Rapper is a journey, of self reflection and praise with the accompaniment of lively instrumentation, choirs, and an overall heavy gospel music inspiration. Chance first grabbed the attention of millions with the release of his second mixtape "Acid Rap". With "Coloring Book" Chance sticks to the unconventional sound he's always brought to Hip-hop through project and singles, with more of a spiritual undertone, Coloring Book is the representation of Religion, more specifically Christianity and the Black millennial today.

"I get my word from the sermon 
I do not talk to the serpent 
That's the holistic discernment"

     Chance's alt hip-hop personal style merged with gospel music was first introduced to us on his last project with the social experiment "Surf"(2015), with single "Sunday Candy". Songstress Jamila Woods, featured on "Sunday Candy", also makes an appearance on coloring book with "Blessings", on which she proclaims "When the praises go up, the blessing come down".

     For us Millennials(those born between the mid 80's and early 2000's) religion is something that was forced upon us in a subtle way. By now certain practices are what we were raised with but eventually made the choice to break out of. Especially in the Christian/Catholic faith(s). The Bible is important, but attending church on the regular basis is not as mandatory as it once was. We all have adapted our respective faiths to our lives accordingly, especially when it comes to what faith is, and what faith truly means. These days there more people recognize the difference between religion and faith. Your faith is what guides your spirituality, which is simply a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves and what that means for ourselves. Religion is a system, it has a name, it has rules, norms, and practices attached to it. One can be spiritual without being religious. One can pull ideals from a certain religion and not be religious. One can have their faith grounded in a certain religious foundation and still not take part in it's practices. 

     Chance seems to represent the less than religious youth who's faith is still very important, on the basis of Christianity. It can be assumed that he was raised a Christian. This album is filled with praises to God lyrically and musically. Songs that stand out with strong Gospel influence are "Blessings", "How Great" and the last two songs to close out the album "Finish Line/Drown", and "Blessings" (another song from the one aforementioned), there are also religious references on other songs throughout the mixtape. The use of a choir(s) is reminiscent of College Dropout, the first album by Chance's predecessor himself KanYe West who is featured on the very first song of Coloring Book "All We Got". Chance's growing friendship with West is known based on his feature on KanYe's latest album "The Life of Pablo" with "Ultralight Beam". Another track presenting listeners with a gospel feel, features a testimony from Kirk Franklin and probably one of Chances best verses of his careers, accompanied with the proclamation "This is a God dream".

   "Coloring Book" is closed with the use of a choir singing "Are you ready for your blessing", on "Blessing", along with voice over from Kirk Franklin as well. Chance is "Blessed" and he knows it. "Coloring Book" is available for streaming on Apple Music.

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