On his new album, Potential, The Range showcases his ability to combine many different sounds from around the internet in interesting ways. Beginning with plucked strings and other textually intriguing sounds, “Florida” includes a fun, dance-able beat with a bright vocal sample. Despite the pop-y elements, The Range maintains his mellow, moody sound aesthetic displaying the ability of Electronic Dance music to maintain subtlety. Rather than chasing the slick, metallic synth sounds of Calvin Harris, The Range remains subdued creating artistic songs out of his unique way of sampling. It is also respectable that The Range doesn’t use any feature artists for vocals, instead manipulating previously recorded material to his own soundscape.
Chance the Rapper’s fame is an incredible feat. Despite the music world’s development into the age of soundcloud, bandcamp, and streaming services, the idea of performing on Late Night television and capturing mainstream attention is still almost completely unfeasible without record label support or corporate sponsorship. Yet, over the past year or so, Chance’s carefree, fun loving music has been propelled to international recognition through his uncanny networking skills and general personable character. With his third mixtape, Coloring Book, Chance continues the electronically manipulated gospel sound that he has been developing since Acidrap.
Once again Chance delivers some dance-able bangers. “No Problem” incorporates a fun, bright hook with energetic verse’s from Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. On “Finish Line/Drown” the “do-do-do-do-do”s from the gospel choir stick in your head. Also, Chance’s verse over the straightforward drum-kit and active bass-line works really well.
Chance’s trumpet playing friend Donny Trumpet returns for much of the album along with many vocal features with mixed results. The album tries to do a lot and a lot of the songs end up crowded with pitched up trumpet sounds, pitched DOWN trumpet sounds, as well as strings and processed vocal choirs. With all of these things being involved the song gets really heavy and Chance’s vocals can be lost in the mix. Also, on songs like “Blessings,” it feels like Donny is doing a bit too much. He’s constantly using processing on his trumpet, sometimes overloading the mix with four tracks devoted to pitched-up horns. A lot of risks are taken in the production, which is nice to hear, but some of the ideas are a bit hard to digest especially upon first listen.
Also, Chance’s “optimistic teenager” lyrical ideas are still the main focus of the album. Nostalgic songs like “Summer Friends” and “Same Drugs” address the topics of growing up, breaking up with girlfriends and other various subjects that Chance has been emphasizing throughout his career. It feels like Chance is not developing all that much as an artist. Overall, I did not have a excessively positive reaction to Coloring Book. I like the ideas. It’s inspiring to hear gospel singing and horn playing combined with rap, however, Chance’s inclination to fill his songs to the brim with bright, processed sounds makes the music a bit excessive sometimes and his lyrical ideas didn’t do it for me.