By Jake Mulick
Chicago-native Chancelor Bennett has been dominating the rap game. The world is next. More commonly known as Chance The Rapper, the 23-year-old released his third mixtape in the last five years, “Coloring Book,” earlier this summer.
Chance’s “Coloring Book” speaks at length about the artist’s struggle with substance abuse, religion and parenthood, as well as a scathing critique of the music industry. Featuring hip-hop titans like Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Jay Electronica and Justin Bieber, “Coloring Book” was released on Friday, May 13, and eventually climbed to the No. 8 spot on the Billboard 200 — the first streaming-only LP to do so.
Fellow Chicago-native West laid claim that his most recent album, “The Life Of Pablo,” was going to be “a gospel album with a whole lot of cursing” in an interview with Rolling Stone on Thursday, February 4, however, such remarks may be better fit for “Coloring Book.”
It would even be fair to say that Chance has embodied the spirit of a street Al Sharpton. With lines like, “I get my word from the sermon / I do not talk to the serpent / That’s the holistic discernment” and “Exalt, Exalt, glorify / Descend upon the Earth with swords and fortify the borders where your shorties lie” from “All We Got” and “How Great,” respectively, Chance lays praise to Jesus and God as only hip-hop can.
Chance derives his gravitation to religion as an escape from a time in his life when he lived extravagantly and with little care about productivity. In an interview with GQ from Tuesday, Aug. 23, Chance The Rapper decries his life: “I was a Xan-zombie, fucking not doing anything productive and just going through relationship after relationship. Mind you, this is six months. So think about, like, how could you even do that?”
It was not until an intervention from his grandmother and a return to Chicago that Chance was able to turn his life around.
Chance The Rapper has made a name for himself in the musical world for refusing to sign to a record label. Courted by a myriad of labels, such as Sony and G.O.O.D. Music, Chance The Rapper continues to be the only truly independent major rapper in the world.
While most within the music industry argue that artists need record labels, this allows him autonomy to release his music for free online and not have to release singles leading up to his albums. His independence has allowed him to break down barriers and he was even able to have his stream-only album be considered for a Grammy Award.
Chance The Rapper has not been shy about his disdain for record labels and the music industry. In his second song “No Problem” featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, Chance explores his relationship with record labels trying to halt his independence by saying, “If one more label try to stop me / It’s gon’ be some dreadhead n****s in ya lobby.”
Chance’s point was further reinforced by Lil Wayne rapping, “I got problems bigger than these boys / Lord, free the Carter, n****s need the Carter / Sacrificin’ everything, I feel like Jesus Carter / And if that label try to stop me / There gon’ be some crazy Weezy fans waitin’ in the lobby / Mula, baby,” in reference to his own personal issues with Cash Money Records.
Chance The Rapper discusses much more than religion, drugs and record labels on “Coloring Book,” though. Chance was lucky enough to welcome into the world a daughter by the name of Kinsley Bennett in October 2015. He references his daughter and his longtime girlfriend on the mixtape multiple times, specifically on songs “All We Got,” “Blessings” and “Finish Line.”
Chance attributes the birth of his daughter to a fair amount of his religious piety. The affection that he shows the females in his life has been noted as different from many artists of the same genre, which speaks to the level of respect he has for them.
Chance started his “Magnificent Coloring World Tour” this past month and will be touring through the end of the year. He is set to make some nearby festival stops along the way. Chance has been one provocative figure and has knocked down many of the barriers that have stood in front of him since his first mixtape was released nearly half a decade ago. It will be exciting to watch this rapper come of age and embrace his newfound celebrity.