12 Days of Spring Weekend: Chance the Rapper

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Chance the Rapper is somewhat of an anomaly in the music business, and a testament to the fact that independent artists can still rise to fame on merit alone. 10 Day, his debut album, and Acid Rap, his breakout album, are both self-released. Acid Rap, after over 250,000 downloads, has been certified platinum despite still not being available on iTunes or Spotify. Chance turns 21 later this month.

Chance the Rapper (née Chancelor Bennett) recorded his freshman mixtape during a ten day suspension his senior year of high school. The story behind the suspension, a lengthy tale, begins with a girl who he was hooking up with handing him a blunt claiming she “didn’t even smoke no more,” and ended with him and his friends being caught in an alleyway by a school officer. The officer not only got Chance suspended for ten days, but preceded to take him down to the local police station. (Don’t worry, y’all. Chance isn’t mad.)

Though 10 Day was physically recorded and distributed to friends that year, the mixtape was not officially released until the following year in 2012. That year, the album was downloaded 100,000 times, but Chance didn’t rest, recording with Childish Gambino, Hoodie Allen, and Joey Bada$$ and releasing more of his own music. His sudden ascent in 2012 paved the way for the success that 2013 would bring.

This was not the first his alma mater, the prestigious Jones College Prep High School, had heard of Chance’s music aspirations. The school, which is located outside his hometown of Chicago, saw the formation of the rap duo ‘Instrumentality’ his freshman year. Administrators discouraged his rapping dreams, but widespread critical acclaim, a Forbes magazine feature, and an offer to open for popular rapper Childish Gambino’s 2012 tour following the release of 10 Day said otherwise.

Acid Rap was released April 13, 2013, with the title referencing Chance’s experimentation with LSD while recording. Recording the entire album in independent studios around New York, LA, and, of course, Chicago, allowed Chance to work with new artists Lili K, Nate Fox, Vic Mensa, Twista, Saba, BJ the Chicago Kid, Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, Ab-soul, and producers that he’d connected with since the release of his previous effort.

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Acid Rap was a certified hit. Pitchfork aka college-aged semi-hipsters’ version of the pope bestowed upon Chance’s sophomore album an 8.4 and described the album as an attempt to encompass everything.” It’s a pretty successful attempt; the album blends elements of jazz, soul and old-school rap, as it discusses heartbreak, drugs, violence, and a nagging fear of growing up that is eerily relatable.
The album included several hit songs, including his collaboration with Childish Gambino, “Favorite Song,” and every college kid’s favorite of the year, “Cocoa Butter Kisses.” Although Acid Rap heavily features guest artists, Chance has proved that he can command a song just by himself. Some of the best tracks are his solo tracks, like “Everything’s Good,” “Interlude (That’s Love)” and his second single, “Juice.” Both chill and upbeat, Chance has carved out a niche for himself within the rap world; diverse, lyrically engaging but also boasting infectious hooks and dancy beats, it’s not quite party music, but not quite coffee-shop music. Whatever it is, Acid Rap is the most thoroughly listenable rap album released in the past year.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjmiLp47Yg8

We are seeing Chance at a very opportune time (in his life and in ours). On the brink of blowing up, five years from now, you’ll be able to say “I saw him when he was just a kid.” And fresh off of Yale’s Spring Fling, Chance’ll be looking to have some fun. Weather permitting, we’ll be basking in equal parts sunshine and Chance’s talent.

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