In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, since we’re getting into the summer groove, we’re picking what we’d like to be this year’s song of the summer.
These days, everybody wants a piece of Chance The Rapper. He’s undoubtedly an artist of the moment, despite the fact that this particular moment in America is so stifled by hatred, bigotry, distrust, and fear. And yet, there’s Chance, bringing everything he’s got to every performance, beaming from ear to ear. It’s not ignorance; it’s bold, big-hearted defiance.
His latest mixtape, Coloring Book, is emblematic of this attitude—a gospel-indebted hip-hop album so infectious and optimistic that the listener can’t help but beam from ear to ear as well. In Chance’s hands, the “mixtape” is no longer a cassette compiled by a lovelorn teen with one too many Spin Doctors songs; it’s a way to spread joy and positivity. It’s ecstasy in downloadable form. Coloring Book should be everywhere this summer and, luckily for us, it is.
“Angels” has been on heavy rotation since its premiere last fall on The Late Show, and “No Problem” was the sure-fire breakthrough when the mixtape dropped. But uptempo party-starter “All Night” has the power to keep the hype for Coloring Book going all summer long. The relentless beat (a nod to Chicago house music produced by the increasingly ubiquitous Kaytranada) drives the song forward at a breathless pace, and, of course, Chance is there to match it. He’s just trying to have a good time, but everyone at the party wants to talk; everyone’s got ulterior motives. In a way, “All Night” is Chance coming to terms with his newfound fame and the lack of privacy that comes with it; but in typical Chance fashion (that is to say, light-hearted and self-assured), he laughs it off and keeps the party going. When Knox Fortune’s earworm of a chorus chimes in for the third time, the horns of Donnie Trumpet are there to accompany it, bringing the track to close on a note of pure catharsis.
“All Night” should be played loudly and often—to block out the hate, and turn your back on anyone trying to drag you down. It’s a summer jam so buoyant, so defiantly positive, that you might just forget that things are going to shit. It’s not the song of the summer we deserve, but it’s the one we need right now.