Think of The Playlist as your source to the music everyone's talking about, including some hidden gems stuck on repeat in our Topgolf headquarters. Our goal is to make sure you have a few ideas for what to load up on your phone for your workout, long drive, or when you just have to press pause on a busy work week.
This time, we kick things off with a mix tape that is so much more than a few rough cuts not ready for the big time. Summer album alert coming up…
Album of the Week
Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper
It’s hard to believe that Coloring Book, the surprise mix tape that hit Apple Music earlier this month, is Chance the Rapper’s first official release…and he still calls it a mix tape! After listening to Coloring Book for a couple of weeks now, it’s clear that Chance elevated the very definition of mix tape while playing by his own rules.
We’re not quite sure what’s more impressive: that it’s been three years since Chance’s last mix tape (Acid Rap), or that the Chicago native is still trying to release music his own way, without the support of a major label, and sometimes with no real marketing at all. It’s all word of mouth and hustle, making his unique mark on bigger releases from Childish Gambino and Kanye West.
With Coloring Book, we get a sense that Chance isn’t content churning out another bass-laden, same-flow album as his hip-hop counterparts. This much is obvious, as the album kicks off with "All We Got", lifted up by a catchy hook sung by West and the Chicago Children’s Choir. Gospel makes a strong reappearance later on thanks to the legendary Kirk Franklin, taking everyone to church on "Finish Line / Drown", along with the singer everyone will talk about in a few years, Eryn Allen Kane.
Actually, for a hip-hop mix tape, the styles come at you in a variety of ways. Mainstream fans will love hearing Justin Bieber croon on "Juke Jam", while "Same Drugs" gives Chance a stage for a hauntingly sweet song. “We don’t do the same drugs no more. She don’t act the same way no more. Where did you go?” It’s hard not to tear up by the end of that one.
On a more upbeat note, "Angels" brings us to the Caribbean, thanks to a great steel drum-infused riff that will have you singing along, “City so damn great, I feel like Alexand’” with guest artist Saba and a great brass section. But our pick for potential song of the summer is "No Problem", with Chance joined by Lil’ Wayne and 2 Chainz that will stick in your head for a long time.
Hip-hop fan or not, Chance the Rapper brings mix tapes to a new level, and it’s worth a listen (or three).
Did You Know: Getting suspended in high school paid off for Chance the Rapper back when he was better known as Chancellor Bennett. The 10-day break from high school gave the senior ample time to record his first mix tape, 10 Days. The rest is history.
The Playlist for June 22
Nobody Speak by DJ Shadow
The preeminent DJ who basically shaped the London hip-hop scene returns with a new solo album, and this track features Run the Jewels and an amazing hook you’ll go back to time and again.
Johannesburg by Mumford & Sons
This EP brings the well-known band to South Africa to collaborate with local stars Beatenberg and African singer Baaba Maal for a really interesting pairing that is worth a listen.
Good Grief by Bastille
The simple 80s-style pop hook, along with the synth and drums combo, makes for another great track from Bastille.
Girlfriend by Nao
If you’re still looking to fill the void by Prince’s untimely passing, take a listen to this track by Nao. The London-based R&B singer pays homage with this silky ballad.
1990x by Maxwell
Speaking of silky R&B, Maxwell is back with his beautiful falsetto on this haunting love song, punctuated by a gorgeous arrangement.
Playin’ Fair by Towkio
Part of the Savemoney crew headed by Chance, Towkio is about due for a breakout hit, and this collaboration with Joey Purp sounds like the one to put him over.