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Chance the Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ Is a Gospel-Rap Masterpiece

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Chicago’s Chance the Rapper just released 2016’s richest hip-hop album. Though Kanye said The Life of Pablo was a gospel album, Coloring Book delivers on that promise in much more than fits and spurts.

Gospel choirs are the backbone of the LP, rocketing heavenward in the background the same way soul samples did on Kanye records, James Brown breaks did on Public Enemy records or disco interpolations did in the Sugar Hill catalog. Reaching back to the very beginning of black music in America, Chance recontextualizes one of the most enduring African-American art forms for 2016’s most urgent one.

Coloring Book comes at a time when the biggest rap and R&B stars are looking deep into African-American heritage, a trend that’s perhaps unsurprising in a country where policemen regularly get away with murder, a presidential candidate refuses to disown the KKK and the water is poisoned. On their recent albums, Dr. Dre and Vince Staples revived Nineties gangsta rap, Kendrick Lamar searched for the spiritual core of To Pimp a Butterfly in Seventies jazz, Beyoncé sampled Forties prison songs on Lemonade and now Chance the Rapper finds freedom in gospel music that goes back centuries.

There is no shortage of direct praise to God in Chance’s lyrics — think West’s “Jesus Walks,” but without the core of Yeezian frustration. But most everything here seems to take on a spiritual hue: Even though “No Problem” is full of industry-bucking threats (“If one more label try to stop me/It’s gon’ be some dreadhead niggas in your lobby”), Chance is too busy milly-rocking over his blessings. He can paint a vivid picture of growing up in his beleaguered Chicago (“Bunch of tank-top, nappy-headed, bike-stealing Chatham boys/None of my niggas ain’t had no dad/None of my niggas ain’t have no choice”), but New York alt-soul songwriter Francis and the Lights testifies through a vocoder and a prayer is given during the bridge, lending a bluesy dirge an aura of warmth and hopefulness. D.R.A.M., the man behind the giddy viral hit “Cha Cha,” comes by for a beautiful interlude somewhere between Sly Stone and Animal Collective with the chorus “Everyone is special.”

While gospel icon Kirk Franklin plays hypeman, a choir sings one of the most important lines on the album: “Take me to your mountain/So someday Chicago will be free.” Chance reports live from Chicago, a city with nearly 500 homicides last year and the real and terrifying possibility that local government tried to cover up the police shooting of black teenager Laquan MacDonald. Chance’s hope for salvation is obviously not limited to himself, and he opens the doors to his city in many ways. “Angels” speaks for a desire to “Clean up the streets, so my daughter can have somewhere to play,” “Blessings” states “I don’t make songs for free, I make ’em for freedom.” Even though “Juke Jam” speaks to more earthly pleasures (a slow song about fast dancing), he still shouts out regional music styles and interpolates Chi’s own R. Kelly. Similarly, an ode to drinking, “All Night,” reaches back to Chicago house — a Saturday night celebration before the Sunday morning church service of “How Great.”

And, as a rapper, Chance is everything we love about hip-hop in 2016. The convoluted and conscious-minded bars of Kendrick Lamar, the melodic gymnastics of Young Thug, the Oculus Rift ambitions of Kanye West. He’s indebted to no record label on Earth, using the mixtape grind of Future and Lil Wayne to turn the ambitious rhymer into the most famous unsigned artist in America this side of Keyboard Cat.

Mixing American music at its most vintage, today’s most cutting-edge rhyming and the emotional vocoder music that symbolizes our future, this lush, powerful album attempts to move hip-hop past Planet Rock and into the Heavens.

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

ENTERTAINMENT

Beyoncé’s Natural Hair is Hair Goals!

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Have you seen Beyoncé’s natural hair? Listen, now that is what I call “hair goals”! Her mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, has shared a video showing off her famous daughter’s hair on Instagram. In the video Ms Tina is brushing through her multi talented daughter’s hair, and kept saying “au naturale”.

To say that Queen Bey’s hair is “envy enducing” would just be an understatement, that hair is just all kinds of amazing! I mean, if that was my hair I would probably not even wait for my mom to gush about it, I would do the bragging my self. Beyoncé though, isn’t as “petty” as I am, in fact she didn’t seem to appreciate her mother’s antics. She can be heard saying: “Mama, that is really annoying. I mean very annoying”, in a strained laugh.

This is not the first time Ms Tina has gushed over her daughter’s hair on social media. Last year she shared a photo of Queen Bey’s glorious tresses tied in a ponytail, and talked about how happy she was that her daughter’s hair grew back after she had cut it into a pixie.  Ms Tina is obviously proud of her daughter’s hair, but I mean, which mother wouldn’t be?

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MUSIC

Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill Is “Still Alive and Fighting Cancer”

Legendary Geto Boys member Bushwick Bill has died after a longtime battle with pancreatic cancer, TMZ reports. Last month, Bill released a video describing the chemotherapy treatment he’d been receiving for his Stage 4 cancer.

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Legendary Geto Boys member Bushwick Bill has died after a longtime battle with pancreatic cancer, TMZ reports. Last month, Bill released a video describing the chemotherapy treatment he’d been receiving for his Stage 4 cancer.

His death was confirmed by Geto Boys groupmate Scarface this morning, who took to Instagram to pay tribute to the rapper. “RIP Bushwick Bill,” he wrote in his Instagram caption. He was 52.

Bushwick Bill was born on December 8, 1966 in Kingston, Jamaica. The rapper (born Richard Stephen Shaw) moved to Brooklyn, New York in his youth before ultimately settling in Houston, where he joined Geto Boys as a dancer in the late 1980s.

Shaw suffered from dwarfism throughout his life, which informed to his early Geto Boys stage name “Little Billy.” At 3 feet 8 inches tall, he became one of the group’s most memorable contributors, and his image graced the cover of Geto Boys’ 1991 album We Can’t Be Stopped, which depicts groupmates Scarface and Willie D rushing Shaw to the hospital after shooting his own eye out in the summer of 1991. Shaw released six studio albums as a solo artist including 1992’s Little Big Man, 1995’s Phantom of the Rapra, and most recently the 2010 album My Testimony of Redemption.

Last month, Geto Boys announced a farewell tour following Shaw’s cancer diagnosis, which was later cancelled due to his health. According to reports from TMZ, he was also upset by the title of the tour, which implied he was on his deathbed.

Update (12:30pm): Bushwick Bill apparently hasn’t died after all. TMZ has updated their report to note that the musician is “still alive and fighting cancer” according to his publicist. The publicist confirmed his status with hospital staff, who say that the musician is still in their care, with numerous family members by bedside.

Update (1:45pm): In a new post on Instagram, Bushwick Bill’s son confirmed that the Geto Boys musician is still alive. “My dad IS NOT dead, he’s still alive and fighting for his life,” he writes in the post’s caption. “He needs your continued prayers and support. Certain people have been so quick to write him off as dead so they can capitalize off it, and it’s messed up because y’all really think these people care about him. There is no Geto Boys without Bushwick Bill.”

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Nick Jonas Feared Brothers Would ‘Never Speak to Me Again’ After Band Split

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Just days before the release of the Jonas Brothers’ new album “Happiness Begins” on June 7th, the band sat down with CBS Sunday Morning to discuss their reunion journey and the circumstances behind their breakup.

After the brothers Jonas, Kevin, Joe and Nick, encountered stagnating record and ticket sales and faced internal strife, the band split up in 2013. “To call it creative differences is almost too simple,” Nick said. “And I think a lot of people lost the appetite for what we were putting into the world. So, you know, we were putting up shows that weren’t selling. We were making music that I don’t think we were all super proud of, and it wasn’t connected.”

He explained that the brothers’ relationship was also strained, so he had a “tough conversation” with Kevin and Joe. “I said, ‘You know, I feel like the Jonas Brothers should be no more, and we should go on individual journeys.’ And it didn’t go so well,” he recalls.

At that point, Joe thought that the band was done. “I checked out in my mind that – that was it. There’s going to be no more brothers ever,” he tells Smith.

Nick added, “And I feared that, you know, we – they would never speak to me again.”

Inbetween their breakup, Joe focused on his funky pop project DNCE, while Nick concentrated more on acting and his solo career. Kevin was dedicated to raising his two daughters.

Ultimately, the brothers couldn’t stay apart. “I think we –- we definitely were supposed to go through all of what we went through to get to this point, definitely,” Joe says. “I think it was, it was kind of, I guess you could say destiny, whatever it may be, but yeah, we got a do-over, and I think this time around we’re going to do it right.”

In February, the Jonas Brothers revealed their reunion plans with the release of “Sucker,” which debuted at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. They’ve since released another single titled “Cool.” Alongside the release of their first album in 10 years, the band announced earlier this week that they would release new documentary “Chasing Happiness” on June 4th via Amazon Prime and a memoir titled “Blood” on November 12th.

On August 7th, the Jonas Brothers will head out on a North American tour in support of “Happiness Begins” in Miami.

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