Born and raised in Chicago, Chancelor Bennett always knew he was destined to rap. But the man now known as Chance The Rapper had an unusual start to his career.
His career began while under suspension from his high school for smoking weed off campus when he created his first mixtape 10 Day. The mixtape gave the world a small glimpse into Chance’s storytelling abilities and his unique voice. After 10 Day, it wasn’t only Chance’s schoolmates who were interested in learning more about this high school kid from South Side Chicago. Released in 2012, the mixtape was Chance’s big break, gaining the attention of Forbes magazine and artists like Childish Gambino. Attention for the tape would lead him to go on to tour and collaborate with Childish Gambino as well as work with Hoodie Allen and Joey Badass. His career would only progress from there.
Early in 2013, he released his second mixtape Acid Rap, which features guest appearances from Action Bronson, Childish Gambino and BJ the Chicago Kid. Best listened to all at once, Acid Rap takes you on a smooth musical journey through the intricate mind of Chance. From imagining Jesus’ Twitter count on “Everybody’s Something” to arguing about the crime rate in Chicago, Chance tells a story that deals with serious topics in a way that’s remarkably pleasing to the ear.
He explains that for most of his sessions, he takes LSD beforehand in order to open his mind to ask more questions. Chance once explained to an interviewer, “It’s less of a mind altering drug to me … it just frees you and allows you to think outside of what you would normally write about or listen to or how you would evaluate a song that you were making.” Acid Rap would go on to gain the attention of Lil Wayne and Big Boi and give him the opportunity to tour with Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
As a child, Chance always had a desire to perform in front of others. He began his live performances as a teenager at YOUmedia, a youth center in downtown Chicago through the Lyricist Loft, an open mic program for teens geared towards artistic expression through singing, emceeing and spoken word.
The opportunity to perform in front of hundreds of kids fostered the growth of his now amazing stage presence. Live performances were key to Chance from the very beginning. To him, this was the ultimate way to connect with the audience. “Any time you’re standing up there in front of a group of people saying shit; whether you’re a politician or a rapper or selling insurance; it’s all relative. It’s all attention. For me, performing is the biggest part of being a rapper. There’s nothing like the feeling of screaming your story to people.”
And that is exactly what he has learned to do. Chance embarked on his Social Experiment Tour in Illinois on Oct. 25, 2013. This tour was geared towards kids who were around Chance’s age, i.e. college students. Live performances of a record as psychedelic and varied as Acid Rap can be extremely challenging, but Chance delivered it with ease and control while simultaneously working the crowd and giving them a remarkable performance.
Accompanied by an energetic live band, Chance had the crowds on their feet screaming lyrics back at him and had a blast while doing it. In front of his fans, Chance is frenzied and dramatic but simultaneously down to earth. The tour was an immense success, with Chance displaying a complete command over the stage and delivering an immensely entertaining set.
Still, perhaps what is most interesting about Chance is the fact that he can probably choose to sign to any label he wants but has no desire to do so. His view of the music industry and his purpose for making his music makes him even more likeable. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he explained that he has not signed with a label because “there’s no reason to. It’s a dead industry.”
He went on to elaborate, “The whole point of Acid Rap was just to ask people a question: does the music business side of this dictate what type of project this is? If it’s all original music and it’s got this much emotion around it and it connects this way with this many people, is it a mixtape?”
His view that his music can translate his ideas and views while simultaneously causing his fans to question things around them is what makes critics and fans think that this is just the beginning for him.
– By Saher Fatteh