Chance the Rapper: Changing the Game

Jack Looney, Staff Writer

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Chancellor Johnathan Benne, better known as “Chance the Rapper”, is one of the hottest musicians in recent years. He has released dozens of songs, and made millions without selling a single song. He made history after he won three Grammy awards at the age of 23, which included Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance. Before the historic night, he was already nominated for seven awards total. In addition to this success, he’s also a funny, friendly person. He even hosted the Grammy’s after-party. Following the award show, his popularity spiked even further, and he quickly established himself as one of the most prominent rappers in recent years. But many people are wondering: what makes him and his music unique?

Personally I am biased, because I do love his music and style. However, even someone who has never heard of him or his music, the first time people listen to his music almost always results in a pleasant surprise. His music is truly unparalleled, because no matter which song you listen to, there is something for everyone. What I mean by this is that his music clearly doesn’t fit into one narrow genre, nor it is directed towards a specific social or ethnic group.  He classifies his music as a “rap & indie hybrid”, but that construct cannot fit his songs in their entirety. Some argue that he mixes rap with alternative. Others argue that his music is upbeat gospel. This conundrum arises because his music has many different layers.

For this reason, Chance attracts fans of all ages and from different backgrounds. One of his songs could be played at a teenager’s party and at a religious ceremony at the same time — something that a lot of other artists wouldn’t be able to accomplish. He even includes instrumentals in his music, and the loose construct of his songs are what make him so successful. Anyone who listens can discover something within his music to appreciate.

Like his music, Chance’s production process is unprecedented among big-name rappers. First, he doesn’t sell his music. EVER. On a Vanity Fair interview he was asked about this strange practice and replied, “I thought putting a price on it put a limit on it and inhibited me from making a connection”. He makes his money with merchandise and by performing on tour. He hopes to set a precedent for artists in the future to follow, and thus expand their network and audience.

Additionally, Chance has never signed with a label, and believes that signing with such labels would limit his product. “I realized my strength was being able to offer my best work to people without any limit on it,” Chance remarked in the interview. “If you put effort into something and you execute properly, you don’t necessarily have to go through the traditional ways.” And that is what Chance is all about: breaking tradition for the sake of self-enjoyment. If everyone were to follow this mantra in the music industry, the work musicians produce could have even more sentiment, value, and worth than it already does, and for that reason Chance is a trailblazer for thousands of aspiring artists around the world.

My “Top 5 Favorite” Chance Songs (in no particular order):

  1. No Problem
  2. Favorite Song
  3. All I got
  4. Sunday Candy
  5. TIE: Somewhere in Paradise // Juice
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Chance the Rapper: Changing the Game