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Chancellor Bennett is only 23 years old, but he’s already defining the next era of hip-hop.
Chance is an artist in the purest sense. His music knows no genre. He combines exquisite hip-hop word play with melodic gospel; soulful singing with a uniquely funky cadence. His infectious smile can be heard through the microphone as he laughs his way through convoluted alliterations with a mollifying smoothness.
Chance can give you the warm, comforting glow of feel good music, like when he sings about his grandmother.
“Mines is hand made, pan fried, sun dried, Southside, and beat the devil by a landslide.”
In the next song, sometimes even the next verse, he can switch and cast a dark cloud, like when he raps about dreading summertime while growing up in Chicago.
“It just got warm out. This the shit I’ve been warned ‘bout. I hope it storm in the morning, I hope it’s pouring out. I hate crowded beaches. I hate the sounds of fireworks. And I ponder what’s worse between knowing it’s over, and dying first.”
Chance’s eccentric style, introspective lyrics, and ability to bring you into his world emotionally all add up to one thing; authenticity. Chance is self-examining but outgoing. He’s a deep believer in God, but questions God’s presence throughout much of his music. He’s open about his drug use, he passed on signing with a label so he can freely make music with his friends, and he releases all his music online for free.
These are all components that young people love, and their demands will shape the future of industry.
Chance has now released three major mixtapes and one collaborative album; 10 day, Acid Rap, Surf, and Blessings.
10 day was Chance’s debut to the world, and he left quite the impression. He wrote and recorded the mixtape after being suspended for 10 days from Jones College Prep High School for marijuana possession on campus. The mixtape was released 13 days before his 19th birthday, and earned him some buzz in Chicago rap circles. It was featured in both Complex and Forbes. 10 Day exhibited Chance’s enormous talent and potential, albeit unrefined.
12 months later Acid Rap was released. Where 10 day got Chance some local attention and proved his ability, Acid Rap catapulted him into stardom. Acid Rap sounded more like an album than a mixtape; complete with well-produced beats, elite lyricism, and a feature list that included some of the hottest names in hip hop including Childish Gambino and Ab-Soul. Chance was officially on the map. Acid Rap debuted at number 63 on Billboard and earned him praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, NPR, Pitchfork, and Complex.
In 2015, Chance joined with Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment and released an unannounced album entitled Surf. The album was nothing if not unconventional. It combined numerous genres of music and featured more than 15 artists, ranging from J. Cole to Busta Rhymes to Erykah Badu. Chance is hardly even the feature artist in the album, but he sings and raps throughout.
On May 12 of this year Chance released his masterpiece, Coloring Book. The feature list reads like a “who’s who” of hip-hop and R&B; Kanye West, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Young Thug, Future, Jeremih, T-Pain, Justin Beiber. Chance sings, hums, screams, laughs, and raps his way to nearly perfect mixtape, notching an average score of 90 and universal acclaim on Metacritic.
Complex exclaimed that after Coloring Book, Chance was “destined for the throne.” Esquire labeled him the next Kanye West.
Chance took an unusual route with his music, choosing to not sign with a label. In the short term, this hurts him monetarily. In the long term, it’s an effective strategy, and we’re already seeing the benefits.
Chance has no deadlines. No record company can tell him that he has to put out an album in 2017 or face a pay cut. They can’t dictate who he can work with on a song and who he can’t. Chance makes music whenever he wants with whomever he wants.
Chance combines rap, R&B, soul, and gospel in a way hip-hop hasn’t seen since Graduation-College Dropout era Kanye. He’s earned unanimous respect amongst his peers. At the young age of 23, his production and lyricism have already reached levels most never reach in their career.
His decision to forego money and instant fame to craft meaningful music has young Chance on a well paved to go down in the history books amongst the greatest.