Chance the Rapper has been called the next Kanye West, and it’s easy to see why: they’re both Chicago rappers with ambition to spare. But it might be unfair to Chance, whose new mixtape Coloring Book, released exclusively on Apple Music, is a joyful pastiche of gospel and hip-hop that marks him as one of his generation’s most exciting artists. West himself, who appears alongside the Chicago Children’s Choir on the album’s first track, “All We Got,” tweeted that Coloring Book was a “masterpiece.”
Like any kid from the South Side, Chance (real name: Chancelor Bennett) is eager to brag about his hometown in ways that are observant and slyly political: “I got my city doing front flips/When every father, mayor, rapper jumps ship,” he croons on “Angels,” in a nod to Rahm Emanuel. But Chance praises God above all else, and he shines when the political and spiritual intersect. On “Blessings,” he raps, “Jesus’ black life ain’t matter/I know, I talk to his daddy.” It’s the type of audacity that makes rappers into superstars.
This appears in the June 13, 2016 issue of TIME.
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