04 Jan Artist to watch in 2015: Chance the Rapper
Being a fan of “underground” music gives me the rare opportunity to assume the role of a scout. Whenever I’m introduced to a new band or artist, I like to picture myself in the stands of some minor league stadium; hiding behind a pair of sunglasses, a clipboard, and low baseball cap. I’ve seen my fair share of bands emerge from humble beginnings to reach super-stardom; however, for every artist that becomes an “All-star” there are 10, 20, hundreds of busts to sift through. In this situation, I’m sitting behind home plate with my radar gun, and Chance the Rapper stands tall on the mound.
At the tender age of 21 years old, Chance already has two successful mixtape releases under his belt. He’s been tapped for some noteworthy features from a vast array of artists including Skrillex, Childish Gambino, and even Justin Beiber. He has compiled an impressive resume of shows and his forthcoming free album, Surf, will highlight his stellar backing band, The Social Experiment.
Chance the Rapper’s talent is undeniable, the buzz surrounding his future is palpable, and his potential is limitless. My brother showed me Chance in 2013, following the release of his very impressive mixtape, Acid Rap, and the tape resonated with me right away. It was such a feel-good musical and spiritual journey, and I’ve held it close ever since. Acid Rap is latent with a ton of creative samples and is pretty dynamic as far as mixtapes are concerned. There are elements of Soul, Classic hip hop, R&B, Gospel, and Jazz mashed together into a musical acid trip. The record has its lighter moments with some personal favorites such as “Good Ass Intro,” “Juice,” and “Chain Smoker;” as well as its darker, more serious tracks, like the end of “Pusha Man” for example (also known as the hidden track, “Paranoid”). The song abruptly ends at the two minute mark, and after a ominous minute of silence, the mood turns. A somber beat glides in through the speakers, and in this latter section of the song, Chance raps about the dangers of his hometown. Although hearing of kids being murdered on the streets of Chicago undoubtedly shakes the, Chance turns the bad trip right back around with Vic Mersa and Twista providing guest verses on the following track and one of the catchiest songs on the record, Coco Butter Kisses.
There’s a lot of reasons to keep an eye out for Chance the Rapper in 2015. The kid has a good head on his shoulders for sure. He’s articulate, he’s daring, but above all else, Chance is a true performer. I caught Chance’s set at 2014’s Bonnaroo music festival and was absolutely blown away. On the night that Kanye West performed on the main stage of the Tennessee music festival, Chance the Rapper was the one who stole the show. From about 2:45 to 4:00 in the morning, he owned That Tent (no pun intended). Chance highlighted just about the entirety of Acid Rap, hit a couple old jams from his 10day mixtape, and debuted a cover of the “Aurthur” theme song that was later recorded with a gospel-esc chorus, and released free on Soundcloud. Chance’s performance was high energy and in your face. He danced, he sang, and somehow kept enough air in his lungs to rap too. The entire experience brought the humble Chancelor Bennett to the verge of tears as he thanked the Bonnaroo crowd that simply refused to leave the tent… even after his set concluded.
Chance’s latest song, “Sunday Candy,” was released under the moniker Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, and it also available on Soundcloud. Personally, it is in the running for my favorite song of the year, and if f I could describe the track with just one word it would be this: SOUL. The song is tighter, and you can really hear the continued growth of Chance the Rapper as he makes makes a name for himself.
It’s always exciting to get in on the ground floor with a new artist because every progression and new song makes you swell with pride; and although you’ve likely never met the artist in person, you feel like a proud parent every time his or her name is brought up in praise. This is the closest comp I can draw of at the moment, but I honestly project Chance the Rapper to become the next Andre 3000. I think he is that talented.