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Chance The Rapper and the contemporary sound of Chicago

05 Jun 2016

Ride-or-die Chicago native Chance The Rapper just dropped a gospel-powered mixtape and it’s an offering worth the talk. In his third free project, Coloring Book bursts with resounding horns, praise dance-inducing beats, rabbit hole flows in beautifully raw verses and down-tempo reflections, all doused in joy. Managing to include everybody and his cousin (seriously, track 11 featured his cousin Nicole), the 14-track opus shows us how much more the windy city has to offer than disturbingly high body counts and Kanye’s ego.

Boasting a lengthy list of veterans like Bo Diddley, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Frankie Knuckles and many more that you’ll find scrolling through Wikipedia, Chicago was on the map before the new school were even allowed at the grown-up table.

Now gracing us with Chance, Vic Mensa, Towkio, Joey Purp, Noname and Saba, singers D.R.A.M. of “(I like to) ‘Cha Cha’” fame, BJ The Chicago Kid, Jamilah Woods and trumpeter Donnie Trumpet to name very few, it’s a city brimming with a promise and a unique, yet united sound that we haven’t experienced since Odd Future took over our airwaves.

So what is the contemporary sound of Chicago? Songs go from lush chords to lightening fast, screw face-worthy beats at a dizzying pace; lilting melisma soars from vocalists who can hit your heart without breaking a sweat; skittish verses swerve from one idea to the next in skilled exuberance. To add to that, there’s a whole lot of gospel. It’s multi-layered, ever evolving and something you’ll never get bored of. This is 53 minutes of Chicago’s finest.