Yes, this is a women’s soccer article referencing a rap album. Yes, there is foul language. Yes, this is your Parental Advisory.
Back in August, Backline Soccer published Part One of this WoSo Remix series featuring Chance The Rapper and the Chicago Red Stars. On the Friday before the Grammys, we published Part Two to recognize his multiple nominations. And finally, in honor of Chance The Rapper’s recent three Grammy wins (Best Rap Performance, Best New Artist, Best Rap Album), we present the third and final installment of WoSo Remix: Chance The Rapper and Chicago Red Stars.
If you’re into music, you may have heard of the recent Grammy winning Chicago native, Chance the Rapper. If you’re into women’s pro soccer, you may have heard of the Chicago Red Stars. If you’re blessed to be a Chicagoan, you’ve heard of both these things. If you’re not, you can download Chance’s new mixtape for free.
WHY WOMEN’S SOCCER & HIP HOP?
It’s no secret that athletes are into music. They use it to motivate their workouts and hype up game days. Here at Backline Soccer, we’re into a whole bunch of cool shit like WoSo, tacos, and music. So when Chance The Rapper dropped that mix-tape, I immediately downloaded it like the loyal Chicagoan I am. It was released back in May, about a month after the National Women’s Soccer League kicked off its historic 4th season.
Similar to athletes listening to tunes when they work out, I usually listen to music whenever I do some kind of writing. So it only seemed appropriate to do a review and remix of the mix-tape that has taken the music world by storm with the squad that literally reps Chicago’s notorious stars on its crest, The Chicago Red Stars. While going through Coloring Book from start to finish, I will be comparing players from this season’s active roster to specific lyrics in its tracks.
AGAIN. This album contains a Parental Advisory for Explicit Content. So, chill the fuck out. Also, not all players will be used in this WoSo Remix to the album. Mostly active starters & players from this season to date, with some honorable mentions.
CHANCE THE RAPPER – COLORING BOOK (Tracks 11-14)
HOW GREAT (ft. Nicole Steen & Jay Electronica)
The religious themes and gratitude to God on this album flow through this track. In this song, Chance features his cousin, Nicole Steen, who opens singing the line “How Great is our God.” The song ends with a rap from Jay Electronica, a practicing Muslim, who continues the underlying message of making rhymes to praise faith and growing as an individual.
The lyric “My village raised ‘em a child, come through the crib and its bustin’ You meet anyone from my city, they gon’ say that we cousins” will be remixed for Naperville native, Vanessa DiBernardo. Often in Chicago circles, claiming someone as your ‘Cousin’ or ‘play brother/sister’ is a pretty common term of endearment. Drafted by the Red Stars back in 2014 out of the University of Illinois, DiBernardo has been a staple on Chicago’s roster. Her Chicagoland roots keep her connected to the city, its fans, and the team. Wearing the captain’s armband while Christen Press was away, her play on the field has been crucial to Chicago’s attack.
While DiBernardo hasn’t been named to any senior national team camps (yet), she continues to elevate her game, earning praise from her teammates, coaches, and the media. In 2016, she led all Red Stars players in total minutes (1,787) and assists (7). And this off-season, she reached the Grand Final with Perth Glory Women in Australia’s W-League.
*Honorable mentions: Illinois natives, Michele Dalton and Courtney Raetzman. As the backup Goal Keeper, Dalton has had a busy two seasons filling in for Katrina LeBlanc and Alyssa Naeher. Raetzman contributed in her rookie season with six appearances for the Red Stars*
SMOKE BREAK (ft. Future)
Chance continues his album with a slower tempo track in “Smoke Break.” He examines the hectic lifestyles he and his fiancée live, frequently unable to spend time with each other. In a similar style to the earlier track “Same Drugs,” Chance uses drugs as a metaphor for time regarding him and his fiancée. Between the birth of their child and his music career, they both deserve a break with one another.
Another personal song for Chance, the lyric “she don’t have time for herself, she putting points on the board, yes” will be remixed for outside back Arin Gilliland. Gilliland started all 20 games for the Red Stars last season, even after being subbed out of a game with what many assumed was a significant injury. While only in her second season with Chicago, she has already become a key part of the backline for the Red Stars, showing off her pace against forwards like Shea Groom and Alex Morgan. She also came up huge on more than one goal line save in 2016.
Although Gilliland recorded no goals for Chicago, it wasn’t from lack of effort, as she posted a 75% SOG rate. Her goals came in the off-season for Australian W-league team Newcastle Jets, where she recorded a hat trick during a game against Sydney FC.
FINISH LINE/DROWN (ft. Noname, Eryn Allen Kane, Kirk Franklin, T-Pain)
The longest track on Coloring Book, at just under seven minutes, this track breaks down as two parts of one whole song. In the first part on “Finish Line” Chance raps about his journey and challenges in navigating the music business while trying to release his art to the world. He features several artists on this track, including T-Pain who sings the hook of praise “All my days I prayed and prayed, and now, I see the finish line.”
However, the lyric “LA for 4 months end up leaving right back, I’m in love with my city, Bitch, I sleep in my hat” will be remixed for longtime Red Star, Jen Hoy. Drafted back in 2013 as Chicago’s fourth-round selection, Hoy will enter her fifth season with the Red Stars this year. She has been a consistent option at forward for the Red Stars during her time on the team, and has 13 goals in her 63 appearances with the club to date. Hoy battled through injury and played with plantar fasciitis for most the 2016 season. In the off-season, she joined other Chicago teammates on the Newcastle Jets in Australia’s W-League and scored five goals.
Part two of this track is “Drown,” which features local Chicago rapper Noname. She continues the trend of recognizing God’s blessings through her own experiences and her mother. The track ends with Kirk Franklin singing a bit of praise as prayer in the form of an outro, even mentioning “So someday Chicago will be free,” and reminds us that Chicago will always see the finish line.
*Honorable Mention: Cara Walls for the lyric “She like my blessing in disguise.” Walls came through as another option at forward while Christen Press was off on national team duty and Hoy nursed her injury. Although she only netted one goal in 2016, it was in the final game of the regular season to help Chicago clinch the 3rd playoff seed.
For the final track of the album, Chance closes out his mixtape with a reprise of the earlier track “Blessings.” This reprise features a flow from Chance that echoes more like a spoken word prayer than an actual rap. On the track, he reminisces on moments that have led up to this point in his career. He mentions his early struggles and process in making prior mixtapes, literally passing out music, and his later success leading up to the release of Coloring Book.
No matter the lows or the highs, Chance has always been strong in his faith, never wavering from the path he has chosen to navigate for his music being label free. Through his constant efforts in creating his third mixtape, he anticipates the moments in which he can reap the blessings of his hard work. He sings and asks the question, “You got it you got it you got it, it’s coming. So are you ready? Are you ready?”
This lyric will be remixed for all Red Stars fans. From international fans, to supporters’ group Local 134. The years of watching and following this team has led to some special moments, especially recently. Chicago has been trying to build towards something over the last few seasons, and even though they are home to one of the younger teams in NWSL, they made repeat appearances in the NWSL semifinals in 2015 and 2016.
Fans have seen the continued growth of the club over all, from its birth as a WPS franchise to establishing itself as a locally grown, draft-winning, blue collar team. Although the team hasn’t exactly made it the promised land (yet), much of the previous roster is returning for the 2017 season, and several players continued working on their game during the off-season in Australia’s W-League. It’s not surprising that some fans are entering 2017 with a sense of optimism.
So, are you ready?