By Ryan Fitzgerald – Co-Editor-in-Chief
The second he stepped onstage of the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion amphitheater, Chance the Rapper had a stronghold on the sold out crowd eagerly waiting to hear the music sensation. Donning his signature ‘3’ baseball cap, the 23-year-old’s presence offers such a welcoming, vibrant, and positive energy that it can fill a venue as soon as he walks in. He certainly did just that on Thursday, September 29, when his Magnificent Coloring World Tour came to Boston.
Chance’s third mixtape “Coloring Book” was released in May of this year. Even though it is classified as Christian hip hop, “Coloring Book” recently won Best Mixtape at the BET Hip Hop Awards. The Chicago native also took home the award for Best New Hip Hop Artist, but if you know Chano, he is anything but new.
“10 Day,” Chance’s first mixtape, was released in 2012 and his second installment “Acid Rap” came out the following year. His first mixtape is a beautiful start to his career but “Acid Rap” is truly where Chance formed his introspective, soulful and unique voice, one that hip hop has not seen before.
The collection of 13 songs is arguably his greatest project, and one of the greatest hip hop mixtapes of all time, focusing on issues like gun violence in Chicago that Chance witnessed early in his life. His 2013 release set the bar high for his third tape, but “Coloring Book” could not have been a better follow up, receiving universal acclaim like “Acid Rap.”
He wasted no time getting the crowd involved on that Thursday night, opening up his set with hit song “Pusha Man” from “Acid Rap.” Though he only performed the first part of the track, there are two parts to the song on the mixtape that switches from a lively track to a darker melody describing the violence in his city.
Quick and smooth transitions after each song kept everyone out of their seat for the duration of the show. He performed other favorites from “Acid Rap” like “Favorite Song,” “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” and “Juice” before getting into the main course, “Coloring Book.”
One thing that separates Chance from other rap performers is the live music he provides with his show. A choir accompanied him onstage for a number of songs like “Blessings” and “Sunday Candy,” while hiding in the background was his drummer, and right-hand man Donnie Trumpet playing, you guessed it, trumpet.
The most interesting aspect of Chance’s music is the spiritual vibe he so effortlessly showcases and often gospel preaching in his songs. In a time where mainstream hip hop has distanced itself from religion, Chance brings it right back in, focusing on God, Jesus and religious morals in many songs. And it works really well. The way he mixes rap and religion with such a faithful approach is a perfect blend and something no one in hip hop has been so successful at. That is why “Coloring Book” became the first streaming exclusive set to reach the Billboard Top 10 album charts.
The young man certainly knows how to please a crowd as well. Having seen Chance play the House of Blues last year, I had a feeling he would play every song the crowd wanted to hear and come back for an encore. I was correct.
All 13 songs from ‘Coloring Book’ were played, my personal favorites being “No Problem” (even without the Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz features), “Summer Friends,” “Same Drugs,” and both versions of “Blessings.”
Friend and collaborator D.R.A.M. (currently holds the Billboard #1 rap song “Broccoli”) came out for his tune “D.R.A.M. Sings Special” as well.
The greatest moment of the show was Chance’s performance of “Ultralight Beam” from Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo.” Chance offers what I believe is the greatest verse of his young career on the song and chills ran through my entire body when he began to perform it.
When he walked off stage, the show was not over. Chants immediately flowed through the crowd and sure enough the young phenom came running back on to perform some more, including hit single “Angels.”
The curtains finally closed after an almost two hour show. Chance has a great team behind him, but he really is a one man show. I’ve been to a number of shows since coming to college and this may be the best experience I’ve had. I highly suggest seeing Chance live at least once in your life, you will not regret it.