Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, better known as Chance The Rapper, won three awards this year, for best new artist, best rap performance in his song “No Problem” featuring 2Chainz and Lil Wayne, and best rap album for his album “Coloring Book,” at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.
It was a great night for the Chicago rapper, who held much attention that night because he’s what you call an independent artist meaning he isn’t signed on to any record label. “Coloring Book” is the first streaming-only album to receive a Grammy nomination, according to Forbes Magazine.
Upon receiving his award for best new artist, you could hear someone in the crowd scream, “Chi-Town” referring to Chance’s home town, Chicago. During his speech, the first thing Chance did was thank God for his mother and father. Chance stated his victory was “for Kirsten, and Kinsley, for all of Chicago,” at which the crowd cheered. Kirsten is Chance’s girlfriend and Kinsley, his daughter. Chance continued his speech touching on how he may be an “independent artist,” but that he’s got a whole team behind him.
“I wanna thank God for my team. I know people think independence means you do it by yourself, but independence means freedom. I do it with these folks right here, glory be to God, I claim this victory in the name of the Lord, let’s go!” he ended as people clapped and screamed in the back.
Although many people may not unerstand the religious ending to his speech, I think it’s very much tied to his last album, “Coloring Book” which was reviewed by Rolling Stone Magazine and Pitchfork as a “gospel album.” Gospel choir can be heard in almost all of his songs on the album. Rolling Stone Magazine touches on this by adding “reaching back to the very beginning of black music in America, Chance re-contextualizes one of the most enduring African-American art forms for 2016’s most urgent one.”
“Coloring Book” may not be every Chance fan’s favorite album. The album differing from his past work, more so with the religious touch. Yet if you can look beyond that you can enjoy the up-beat, hope-filled beats and lyrics I personally think “Coloring Book” earned the Grammy it deserved and can be better appreciated when you connect the dots between this album and his past.
“Coloring Book” hit fame pretty early on in May when it was released, reaching number eight on the billboard-according to billboard.com. The album hit 57 million streams within the first week of the albums release. “Coloring Book” includes some big world-wide names such as Kanye West, Lil Wayne, 2Chainz, and Justin Bieber. It also includes local fellow Chicago rappers on the rise such as Saba, BJ the Chicago Kid, Noname, Towkio, Chicago producer Knox Fortune, even including the Chicago Children’s Choir.
I think the development Chance has made in his music is refreshing and ties well together. From the “10 Day” mixtape that came out in 2012 to “Acid Rap” in 2013 to “Coloring Book” coming out in 2016 you watch Chance transition and grow. Talking less about skipping class and experimenting with drugs and transitioning more on to his current perspective in life. Chance takes a more religious stance with this album and touches more on his personal life. He talks about his daughter, throws in gospels hymns in the back of his songs, and adds a little bit of traditional Chicago house music with the song “All Night.”
Chance puts thought from his music to his album covers. His first album has a picture of him looking up to the sky, the artist Brandon Breaux explained he talked to Chance about the concept of him looking up to his name being written in the stars as a form of his “destiny” going in to the music industry. To “Acid Rap” where Breaux says, “The second (cover) was a play off the title, I just really love the title, Acid Rap. I knew it was the right pairing, this idea of new-age hippie—TDE (Top Dog Entertainment) was kind of doing that too. But it was like this mix of anxiousness, excitement, and fear where you enter the world. You step into this greatness.”
The third piece, he goes on to explain in his interview with Pigeons and Planes, is about Chance reaching a certain point of maturity, and control. The cover was based on a picture they took of Chance holding his daughter, a concept and look Chance wanted to capture.
I think Chance has put a lot of thought in to his work and what he’s trying to get people to understand. Talking a lot about the violence in Chicago, the problems there, trying to help out his city, as well as letting everybody know there’s so much more to it than violence and that he loves where he’s from.
Chance shares with the world his growth and his perception. Never forgetting to show his fans love. He even went to the extent of buying tickets back from what are called “scalpers,” people who re-sell shares or tickets at a large or quick profit, and re-selling them himself for a more reasonable price.
Although “Coloring Book” may not be everybody’s cup of tea, I personally think Chance deserved every Grammy he won.