By Shayne McNally
I first heard Chance when I was a freshman in high school. His first mixtape, 10 Day was what grabbed the attention of the hip hop industry, and of course my own. It’s one of my favorite mixtapes because I like the story behind it. In this mixtape he explains how he got suspended from high school for ten days for smoking marijuana on campus. So, what did your average Chicagoan, senior in high school, wanna’ be rapper, do for ten days? He wrote the mixtape, which would later be his portal to fame.
Next up, Acid Rap. This second mixtape was released one year after 10 Day. Acid Rap is my favorite mixtape/album until the day I die; write it on my grave. This mixtape is a huge reflection on his best friend’s murder and Southside Chicago. Everything he raps about in this mixtape is just honest and real. Pusha Man is definitely in my top three favorite Chance songs. Every lyric in this song is introspective. My favorite part is after the long pause; most people will just hit next to another song. But, in part two of Pusha Man, Chance further expresses life in Southside Chicago. “Down here, it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a f***ing parking spot.” I mean, c’mon, shookith? Probably only me.
At this point in Chance’s career, every label was banging on his door. I read once, that he met with a couple of different huge labels, but something told him not to settle for one; never to settle for one. Instead, Chance worked with Nico Segal, AKA Donnie Trumpet. (He’s back to being called Nico Segal, don’t get it twisted.) This is when Surf was released. This album has a special sound, full of iconic trumpet solos by the talented, Nico Segal, jazzy sounds, and soulful lyrics.
In the begging of 2016, Chance started collaborating with the biggest and the baddest, Kanye West, on the album Life of Pablo. Chance has a solo rap on Ultralight Beam, saying, “He said let’s do a good a** job with Chance three. I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy. Let’s make it so free and the bars so hard. That there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet.” (Yeah, there’s definitely some foreshadowing here.)
Soon after, Chance started to become an activist on top of being a rapper. He met with powerful political figures like Barack Obama and the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In 2017, he pledged his own, one million dollars to Chicago public schools to fix the broken school system. He also donated special coats that turn into sleeping bags for the homeless people on the Chicago streets.
May 2016, Coloring Book drops; Chance’s third free mixtape. “You don’t want zero problems, big fella.” Heard of it? No Problem was an instant hit, throughout the summer of 2016 and continues to BUMP. This album was very different from the first two. His iconic 3 hat represents his third album, his family (him, Kirsten, and Kensli), and the Holy Spirit (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) At this point in his life, Chance had left the drugs, bad habits, and became a loving father. Kirsten Corley and Chance had a daughter, Kensli Bennett, born in September of 2015. Later in 2017, Coloring Book was nominated for SEVEN Grammys. Chance received three, making him the first ever streaming-only artist to win a Grammy.
I first saw Chance when I was a junior in high school, at Terminal 5 in New York City. I bought VIP tickets for around 100 bucks; they included a meet & greet with Chance, a picture, a signed poster, early merch access, and early entry. I am not joking when I say this was the best day of my young life. Even though I only met him for about a minute, you could tell right away that he’s just down to earth, and appreciated the love from his fans. Towkio and D.R.A.M. opened and in the VIP balcony were Beyonce and Jay-Z; Ja Rule also came out and did a couple of songs. I’ve now seen Chance four times and I’m waiting for the next album to drop with another tour. I think Chance wants to be a dad for a little, which is cool, but I think we’re all ready for some new music.
Chance the Rapper inspires me everyday as a role model, not only because of his music and accomplishments, but because he loves the Lord too. If I could give one piece of advice about Chance, it would be to listen to his first two mixtapes; you will not regret. I made the playlist, “Chance Bennett, a Peculiar Name” because it has all of my favorite Chance the Rapper songs and his featured songs all in one place. I listen to this album all of the time, and I hope you enjoy!
“You deserve a warm towel, you deserve a soda
You deserve a quiet room, you deserve a sofa
You deserve a Ferrari and a matching tiara
And a hand to wipe away all that running mascara” (Prom Night- Chance the Rapper, 10 Day)