First the underdog and now on his way to becoming a star, Chance the Rapper is one of hip-hop’s finest in this day and age, appealing to the young crowd with his over-the-top lyricism and intriguing style of rap, and even appealing to the older folks with his extreme gospel and soul influences. At the young age of 22, Chancellor Bennett has proved he can retain a very strong hip-hop persona all while being an incredibly good person. In the midst of the constant ‘tough guy’ rap shtick that can influence many of our younger generation, Chance chooses to put the good of the world into people’s heart and it’s beginning to pave the way for many other artists as well.
Since Chance’s extremely low-key Soundcloud releases, “Home Studio,” “I Am Very Lonely,” “Lady Friend,” “Hiatus (Broadcast),” and the absolutely brilliant cover of “Wonderful Day” from the popular children’s cartoon, “Arthur,” there has been a minor pause of solo releases from him. Just recently, he dropped a cover of Kanye West’s “Family Business,” which Chance appropriately re-titled “Family Matters” in honor of his tour. Then, Bennett finally dropped his newest track, “Angels” featuring other Chicago native Saba, and of course, Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment (commonly referred to as SoX). Chance fans were glued to their television sets this past Monday, Nov. 16 to see him perform on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” To say the least, he did not disappoint. With a newfound confidence, he opens with “I got my city doin’ front flips” and for good reason.
Chance the Rapper, arguably, is one of the most influential hip-hop artists to come out of Chicago since West. Through various Instagram and Twitter posts, you can find him doing selfless deeds for his city constantly, especially for the kids of Chicago. Consistently hosting open mic nights and taking various class groups to museums and exhibits, it shows that he truly cares about his city. In “Paranoia,” a hidden song off his sophomore mixtape, “Acid Rap,” Chance seems distraught about the terrors that come from summer in Chicago, singing that “everybody dies in the summer, wanna say ya goodbyes, tell them while it’s spring.” But now, being the mature adult he’s grown into, Chance is choosing to truly do something about the issues in Chicago.
Good deeds aside, he never seems to let down with the music he releases. While it’s been well over two years since his critically lauded “Acid Rap,” Chance has still managed to hop on a ton of features, most notably Donnie Trumpet’s “Surf,” and drop a couple singles along the way. Not only does he provide a refreshing face to the rap game with his wild ad-libs alongside his genius and witty lyricism, but he also does not discriminate when it comes to features. In the past two years alone, he’s been alongside electronic artist James Blake, comedian-turned-rapper Childish Gambino, Skrillex, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Wale, and even Madonnna. Also noteworthy is a tape of freestyles with Lil B, the Based God. Finally, never letting free time creep into his schedule, he even acted in a thought-provoking short film called “Mr. Happy.”
Usually when artists take a minor hiatus, especially in the realm of hip-hop, fans tend to get antsy and rude. However, it seems Chance knows how to hold over his fans, and though each one of his verses may not be drenched in gold, he always manages to entertain and show extreme creativity with whatever he does. During a stop at Austin City Limits on his “Family Matters Tour,” he performed a brand new track and proceeded to end it with the words,”third mixtape.” Not only did this song sound incredible, but upon hearing confirmation of Chance dropping a third mixtape, hip-hop fans were essentially sent into cardiac arrest.
I still remember the first time I heard “Acid Rap.” It was my first exposure to Chance and I found myself rather neutral. His bars were creative, even though I found his voice a bit annoying, and I couldn’t understand what the weird, screeching sound that’s in every song was. Spoiler alert: it’s his ad-lib. But, I found myself constantly revisiting it, slowly gaining appreciation for the songs. Like most others, the first song that clicked was a ballad of simpler times, “Cocoa Butter Kisses” featuring Twista and Vic Mensa. Once I finally realized what he was saying (thanks RapGenius!), my jaw dropped. “Used to like orange cassette tapes with Timmy, Tommy, and Chuckie / And Chuck E. Cheese’s pizzas, Jesus pieces, sing Jesus loves me,” is a line that alludes to his past that is so cleverly written I couldn’t help but have a giant smirk on my face the first time I read through that song. After that, I found myself going through the entire mixtape with RapGenius open on my computer, allowing myself to truly understand the mind of Chance the Rapper. While “Acid Rap” collectively was extremely diverse, his creative reach didn’t stop there. Though “Surf,” an album released for free by Donnie Trumpet & the SoX didn’t blow me away by any means, songs like “Windows,” “Sunday Candy,” and “Slip Slide” truly began to showcase the variety Chance had, and eventually it came to fruition that Chance the Rapper wasn’t just Chance the Rapper, he was Chance the Artist.
Overall, I can’t talk up Chance enough. He’s done so much for his community and fans and remains unsigned to a major label, all while continuously releasing music. Plus, he’s now a soon-to-be father. Congratulations, Chance, and remember: family does matter.
Zach Ritz is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at ZR812833@wcupa.edu.