Revolutionary, joyous, enigmatic, brilliant – all are apt descriptions for Chance the Rapper‘s mixtape Coloring Book. I can wax poetic about Chance’s contributions to both rap music and our shared hometown of Chicago, but you’ve most likely read about fifteen thinkpieces over the weekend on the rapper’s socially conscious, enthusiastic artistry.
Part of Coloring Book‘s magic is its’ innately symbiotic productions and features – like fellow Chicagoan Kanye West‘s The Life of Pablo, the beats work with the verses to become one whole, dynamic sound. So just as Chance the Rapper’s stylistic delivery and content is important, his selection of producers are too. Get to know some of the team of beatmakers behind the mixtape below.
Track: “No Problem (feat. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz)”
From: New York City, New York, USA
Sounds like: The exuberance of Ivan Jackson‘s trumpet with Conor Rayne‘s driving, nuanced drumming is probably the freshest sound I’ve heard in many, many years. Both classically trained, the duo take all the best elements of jazz and pair it with inventive, effortless electronica sounds. Their work on Coloring Book is the mixtape’s most obvious single, and it’s easy to hear why – the first time I played it, it made me so happy that I started jumping on my bed. No joke.
Track: “Same Drugs”, “Angels (feat. Saba)”
From: Oslo, Norway
Sounds like: This former popstar and Chance collaborator uses hopeful, major-key melodies and layers on immersive, technicolor sounds with his sonic paintbrush in his moving compositions. The intricacy in each level of “Same Drugs” (violins, guitar, piano, choir, etc) could all stand alone in their beauty, but when blended together, they create a masterpiece.
Track: “All Night (feat. Knox Fortune)”
From: Montreal, Canada
Sounds like: Kaytranada‘s funky rubberband basslines and effervescent disco synths launched a thousand Soundcloud copycats, but no one can encapsulate the nu-house sound better than the Canadian producer himself. The slinky strut of “All Night” is the perfect intro to Kaytra’s sexy, minimal style; if this track doesn’t make you want to move, I don’t know what will.
The Social Experiment (Donnie Trumpet, Nate Fox, Peter Cottontale, Chance the Rapper)
Track(s): “All We Got (feat. Kanye West and Chicago Children’s Choir)”, “D.R.A.M. Sings Special”, “Blessings”, “Same Drugs”, “Angels (feat. Saba)”, “How Great (feat. Jay Electronica and My Cousin Nicole)”, “Finish Line/Drown (feat. T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Kane and Noname)”, “Blessings”
From: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Sounds like: Chance the Rapper’s Surf is perhaps the best way to personify The Social Experiment’s sound. World music, jazz, gospel, blues, and hip hop all meet in a giant melting pot of sweeping sound, powered by four of Chicago’s most forward-thinking artistic minds. In a way, The Social Experiment draws comparisons to the Grammy-award winning Robert Glasper, but at the same time the group subverts any real genre.
Track: “Juke Jam (feat. Justin Bieber and Towkio)”
From: Aachen, Germany
Sounds like: Rascal’s wistful musings via plucked guitar strings exude the sex appeal of R&B without all the melodramatic cheesiness that can sometimes come with it. The producer’s raw, soulful subtlety enhances the rich tones in Justin Bieber’s honeyed voice on “Juke Jam”, and makes for some great late-night listening. Be sure to check out his New Jack Swing-inspired remix of Brandy‘s “I Wanna Be Down”.
Track: “Smoke Break (feat. Future)”
From: Bay Area, California, USA
Sounds like: Vibrant and warmly warped synths characterize Garren’s razor-sharp production, from his remix of Chance’s “Sunday Candy” to his work on Coloring Book. His escalating crescendos of 808s and flourishes of the harp in “Smoke Break” takes what could have been a standard smoker’s anthem and turns it into a lush, thoughtful rap feature.
Track: “Mixtape (feat. Young Thug and Lil Yachty)”
From: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Sounds like: Laden with sparse, ominous piano notes and thick basslines, CBMIX’s sound is both mellow and menacing. His subterranean bass fills in the space left between his no-frills synths and harmonious, cloudy melodies, a feature that compliments the guttural autotuned vocals of Young Thug and Lil Yachty on “Mixtape”. Basically, CBMIX’s tracks sound like superhero music for a dark antihero.
You can stream Coloring Book on Apple Music now.