From Chatham to Zambia

Three years removed from his appearance on the Freshman cover of XXL Magazine, Chance the Rapper has established himself as one of the most interesting artists in hip-hop.

With his smooth melodies and God-praising lyrics it’s easy to forget that Chancelor Johnathan Bennett is from the violent south-side of Chicago. “There’s no mystery that faith in music and faith in God go hand-in-hand a lot of times,” Chance said in an interview with Zane Lowe of Beats 1 Radio.

Gospel singer Kirk Franklin played a major role in Chance’s decision to make music. The two have worked together numerous times, most recognizably on Kanye West’s album on the opening song Ultralight Beam, who is also a close friend and counterpart of Chance. chance-the-rapper-hat-2

“Every morning at 6 a.m. I would wake up and crank Franklin throughout my entire neighborhood,” said Chance. “That was around 2 years ago when I started my work on the newest mix-tape (Coloring Book).” Franklin teamed up with Chance on the song “Finish Line/Drown” which is a lyrical prayer for the city of Chicago.

Anyone familiar with traditional gospel music can hear the faith based overtone throughout the entire project in songs like “How Great” and “Blessings,”the first of which features his cousin Nicole belting out the chorus, who’s only singing experience comes from singing in the Sunday choir.

As for the quality of the mix-tape in comparison to the rest of the rap game, Coloring Book became the first “streaming-exclusive” set to reach the top 10 of the Billboard 200, coming in at number 8 even weeks after its release.

By the end of 2016 Chance had an entire trophy case of awards which included BET’s Best New Hip Hop Artist, and Best Mix-Tape of 2016, along with being nominated for Lyricist of the Year. He has also received 5 Grammy nominations for 2017 which include, Best New Artist, Best Rap Song (Famous), Best Rap Performance (No Problem), Best Rap/Sung Performance (Ultralight Beam), and Best Rap Album (Coloring Book). 

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