There is a pretty good chance that you’ve heard of this guy by now. After winning three Grammys a few weeks ago (Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance), Chancellor Johnathan Bennett seems to have come out of nowhere and risen to stardom. As a native of Chicago and lover of music, Chance set out to change the world through music from a young age. As a child, he was largely influenced by jazz, soul, and rap; but ultimately, if it was music, it was his jam. Since day one, Chance was not interested in joining a label and chose to release all his music for free on SoundCloud. His first two albums, Ten Day and Acid Rap, were both incredibly successful despite the fact that Chance was struggling in his personal life with drugs and alcohol.
Throughout the last six years, Chance the Rapper fought to bring independent music to the airwaves, but it wasn’t until the release of his newest album Colouring Book last year that he was recognized for all of these achievements. During the production of this new album, Chance decided to focus his music around the themes of God, love, Chicago, and dance. In comparison to Acid Rap, Colouring Book was lighter, and more liberating—it represented the new man Chance had become.
Chance’s poetic verse in each song on the album encapsulates all that was the typical childhood of a 90’s kid. He paints colourful images, references movies, and even samples advertisements from the era to draw on not only his but our whole generation’s childhood memories. In the final song on the mix tape, Blessings Reprise, he raps, “I speak of wondrous unfamiliar lessons from childhood / Make you remember how to smile good.” Chance not only sought to bring colour back into his own life, but into the lives of those who listen and experience the joy that overflows through his music. The joy of the many memories of childhood, appreciating where you are from, how far you have come, and the many blessings that flow from that. Chance is quick to give all the glory of his success to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“ I never really set out to make anything that could pretend to be new gospel or pretend to be the gospel. It’s just music from me as a Christian man because I think before I was making music as a Christian child. And in both cases I have imperfections, but there was a declaration that can be made through going all the [stuff] I’ve been through the last few years. I still think that God means everything to everyone whether they understand it or not — or can really see it for themselves or they find God. I know for a fact we’re not pushed or promoted to speak about God with fervor. I don’t think there’s anything that really allows us to do it as so. But I think the new generation and the forward is all about freedom and all about the ability to do what we want. We’re not free unless we can talk about God.”– Chance the Rapper
If you haven’t yet, take a listen through this album. It is hugely uplifting – creatively and spiritually – and well worth your time.