In one of my favorite books, The Shack, the protagonist Mack is having a dialogue with God (who is a Black woman named “Papa”) about the music Papa is listening to.
“May I ask what you’re listening to?”
“You really wanna know”?
“Sure.” Now Mack was curious.
“West Coast Juice. Group called Diatribe and an album that isn’t even out yet called Heart Trips. Actually,” she winked at Mack, “these kids haven’t even been born yet.”
“Right,” Mac responded, more than a little incredulous. “West Coast Juice, huh? It doesn’t sound very religious.”
“Oh, trust me, it’s not. More like Eurasian funk and blues with a message, and a great beat.” She sidestepped toward Mack as if she were doing a dance move and clapped. Mack stepped back.
While listening to Chance The Rapper’s most recent mixtape, Coloring Book, I couldn’t help but to revisit this passage from the book and think, “Papa must have had Blessings or How Great or Finish Line Drown from Coloring Book is her queue to play next.”
For me, Coloring Book is more than another testament to the gifts, execution, and brilliant delivery of Chance The Rapper, you can listen to anyone of his mixtapes and find all of that, but Coloring Book is indeed ministry. Maybe his intent wasn’t for big this evangelical push, but the way he expressed his love and gratitude for God through his lyrics and gospel-infused sound definitely penetrated my spirit, and I know I’m not the only one. Coloring Book should be just as important to the Church as it his to the rest of the World.
I felt closer to God listening to Coloring Book.
Coloring Book is where Psalms 100:1, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” meets David Byrne’s quote, “With music you often don’t have to translate it. It just affects you, and you don’t know why.”
A lot of Coloring Book seems to be Chance’s personal message of gratitude and joy to Christ. While still personal, it concurrently is a message of encouragement, confidence, and an “if He did for me, He can do it for you” type of message to his listeners. As someone with significant ties to the Church, I truly appreciate this project.
Chance’s unique combination of hip-hop, R&B, trap, gospel, a little funk, and jazz is nothing short of a musical treasure. Music is supposed to inspire, empower, motivate, encourage and/or entertain. Coloring Book does all of this simultaneously.
Listen to Coloring Book here: