Not only was Acid Rap one of the best hip-hop albums of the decade, but it was a million times better than Coloring Book.
For pre-Coloring Book era fans of Chance the Rapper, what I just said comes as no surprise, so allow me to be a little more radical. Coloring Book, quite frankly, fell short. Considering it is one of the most discussed pieces of music in recent years, one would expect something that sounds better. But upon further investigation, it becomes apparent what made Coloring Book so successful: Chance’s accomplishments as a humanitarian, its cost (zero), and the albums all-star cast.
While some of the music on Coloring Book lives up to the hype, “Summer Friends,” “Juke Jam” and “Blessings” to name a few, the majority of the album is hindered by bad production and artistic overstepping by some of the music industry’s most influential names. Maybe most notable was Kanye West’s mess on “All We Got,” Coloring Book’s intro track.
It is clear that the blunders which occurred in the creation of the studio recording of Coloring Book were no fault of Chance’s as his live show of the material was gripping. Further, when Chance was featured on Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam,” he propelled the track to become an instant classic. When left to his own devices and creative control, as was the case during the creation of Acid Rap, Chance has the ability to create what could be dubbed the greatest of all time.
Hidden in the long list of features on “Juke Jam” lies a name which I didn’t think much of until his new album dropped, Towkio. I had listened to some of his previous work and had even seen him live when he came to Cornell to open up for Foster the People. Frankly, I was not impressed — which is why I am very surprised with what I am about to say. Towkio’s WWW. is what Coloring Book should have sounded like.
Before my email box fills up with a bunch of angry emails, let me explain myself. I am NOT saying that WWW. is a better album because that would be flat out ignorant; although, “Forever,” which features Vic Mensa who also made an appearance on Acid Rap is, in my opinion, the best song offered from either of the two albums in question. Coloring Book’s statement is second to none in quality. While WWW. tries really hard to replicate the hard hitting lyrics of Chance’s third mixtape, it falls short. But this does not excuse the fact that the production of Towkio’s album is much more impressive and immersive.
Although the development of Chicago artists, such as Towkio and Vic Mensa, is something that I am sure Chance is excited about, it calls the question about the durability of Chance in the music industry. Personally, I have been a fan since Acid Rap and thus know that Chance has most likely not put out his best body of work yet. But Chance gained a great number of fans through the release of Coloring Book . . . yes, I’m looking at you, the people who every time they get on the aux play “No Problems.”
While I can’t say with any certainty that these fans are fleeting, they certainly aren’t yet committed. With the rise of music, such as Towkio’s WWW., which sounds similar to Chance but better, Chance has the potential to lose fans who aren’t necessarily looking for impactful lyrics.
Although I have full confidence that the next Chance album will be the album of the decade, we need to consider the fact that he may be running out of time to impress his quasi-fan base. In order to remain relevant, it seems to me that Chance’s next album needs to take its production to a different level — whether this means reverting to a method similar to that of Acid Rap or taking his music in a new direction entirely, I am unsure.
Peter Buonanno is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Guest Room runs periodically this semester.