In the Spotlight: Chance the Rapper

February 18, 2017

It seems like nowadays everyone has heard of Chance the Rapper. The 23-year-old Chicago native has certainly made a name for himself and done so in a rather unusual way.

Releasing Acid Rap without the help of a label was a risky move, but Chance proved that all he needed to find success was to make the best music he could; the rest would fall into place. When the mixtape dropped in 2013, there was no battle for reaching the top of the charts or obtaining a certain number of sales in its first week. Instead, Chance demonstrated in his own way that it is possible to thrive in the music industry as an independent artist with free music. Not too long after, he appeared on a Justin Bieber song known as “Confident,” and was asked to accompany many major artists on tour.

Chance is not afraid to share messages through music, especially religious ones. “I think there’s a lot of taboos in hip-hop that people try and stay away from. I think a big one is: people are afraid to speak about God to a certain extent and I think if you’re not free to speak about God then you’re not free,” he said on Good Morning America. His religious views can be heard throughout many of his songs, including his feature on Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam.”

Chance never did sign with a record label, telling Rolling Stone during an interview in 2013 that “there’s no reason to” because “it’s a dead industry.” Acid Rap was supposed to ask some though-provoking questions about the difference between a mixtape and an album and the releasing of both.

“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? What’s an album these days, anyways? ‘Cause I didn’t sell it, does that mean it’s not an official release?” Chance said in the same interview.

I think it is safe to say that Chance loves music, not the music industry. When Coloring Book was released, it first appeared on Apple Music. Now, the album is available only on streaming sources, including Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify. This was a real game changer, in that it became the first stream-only album to make it onto the Billboard 200 chart.

With this being said, something important to note is that Chance does not make a lot of money through album sales and subscriptions to music streaming platforms like many artists today. Rather, most of his profit comes from the large amount of time he spends touring. In fact, Chance recently announced a new tour and is working hard to make sure fans get to see him without having to buy tickets from scalpers.

Currently, Chance is basking in even more success than before, especially after he had no problem snagging three Grammys for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance. He and his fanbase had pushed for the Grammys to take into consideration stream-only albums, so that makes the victory a little bit sweeter.

-Nisa Ayral (@nisaayral)

Feature Image by Leslie Crow


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