By Tammy Lee
The year was 2013 and my teenage son was excited about a new up and coming rapper named Chance the Rapper whom he and his friends had discovered on Soundcloud. My son described Chance’s sound as “one of a kind” and “no one will ever be like Chance the Rapper!”
The first Chance the Rapper song my son played for me was “Acid Rain” from the “Acid Rap” mixtape without telling me who it was and he was right, Chance’s sound was different from that of the other rappers my son listened to.
Here are the 20 Things I Learned about Chance the Rapper:
1. He was born Chancelor Johnathan Bennett on April 16, 1993 in Chicago, Illinois.
2. He has ADD.
3. He recorded his first rap song when he was 14 years old.
4. Chance’s dad was Barack Obama’s State Director when he was a Senator in Illinois. When Chance was 15, he interned for Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
5. Kanye West is one of Chance’s idols and West’s “College Drop Out” was the first hip hop album Chance ever bought.
6. For Chance the Rapper, getting into trouble at school ended up being a really good thing—In 2011, he was suspended for 10 days during his senior year in high school for possessing marijuana on campus. He took his newfound free time and the punishment he received as a source of inspiration to record his first full-length album, a mixtape called “10 Days.”
7. “10 Days” was released as a free digital download on April 3, 2012 and the mixtape garnered significant buzz and critical acclaim. Chance caught the attention of Forbes Magazine who put him on their “Cheap Tunes” section, Complex Magazine put him on their “10 New Chicago Rappers To Watch For,” and Childish Gambino asked Chance to be the opening act of his 2012 Tour of America.”
8. Chance was part of XXL Magazine’s Freshman Class of 2014—Previous breakout stars include:
2007: Lupe Fiasco
2009: Kid Cudi & Wale
2010: Wiz Khalifa & J. Cole
2011: Kendrick Lamar
2012: Future & Macklemore
2015: Fetty Wap
9. Since arriving on the music scene, Chance has refused to sign with a record label, choosing instead to remain independent. He says his music is strictly dedicated to the fans who simply enjoy his music AND he feels giving away his music for free gives him more space to create and release cool stuff.
10. In 2013, Chance released his second mixtape, “Acid Rap,” again as a free digital download and it was nominated for Best Mixtape at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards.
11. Music runs in the family. His younger, Taylor is also a rapper. Taylor referenced Chance’s BET Award in his just released song “Favorite Colors” (featuring Kyle & Luke Tennyson) – “Like how I could reach and perform, is so foreign to me while I’m swimmed on this crowd, I need them VMA’s it’s in my DNA, I ain’t no deity but I still contemplate, complicate, conversate me on that BET”
12. In 2014 along with his brother Taylor and his father, Ken Bennett, he organized an anti-gun violence campaign called #SaveChicago As a result of their effort, the city went an entire 42 hours without a single incident. The second annual anti-violence campaign launched the following year with the addition of the hashtags #FaithInAction and #PutTheGunsDown.
13. According to Rolling Stone, Chance’s 3rd album, “Coloring Book” was the first streaming only album to make it to Billboard’s 200 and it was because of this accomplishment that the Grammys changed their policy so that streaming only music can also be nominated. Chance was nominated for 7 Grammy Awards in 2016 and won 3 including “Best Rap Album.”
14. Chance launched the “Magnificent Coloring Day” Music Festival. It was an event he hoped would create new job opportunities, bring in much needed revenue, and uplift the city of Chicago. Additionally, to make sure his fans could attend the festival, he bought back 2,000 floor seat tickets from scalpers and resold them to his fans at a $45 or $75 per ticket.
15. Chance is friends with Beyoncé and Jay Z, whom he calls “Auntie Yoncé” and “Unc.”
16. Chance welcomed his first child, daughter Kensli in September 2015.
17. He is the first independent artist (across any musical genre) to perform on Saturday Night Live.
18. Chance is the new voice of Kit-Kat and is putting his own soulful and-jazzy spin on the iconic “Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar” jingle. He is the first celebrity contacted by Kit Kat to help modernize their brand.
19. Chance saw and liked Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Get Out” so much (because it tackled modern American race relations) that he bought “all the tickets” for the “Get Out” showings for a day at local Chicago theatre so people could “just pull up with ID and enjoy the movie.”
20. Days after a meeting Chance brokered via a Twitter exchange with Governor Bruce Raunner to discuss funding education in Chicago, and frustrated by the “vague” answers the rapper felt he got because “it’s not my job to propose any policy or be behind anything other than the kids,” Chance took matters into his own hands by donating $1 million to the Chicago Public School system. He called his contribution a “call to action’ and encouraged other companies in Chicago (and across the country) to donate to Chicago schools.