Last night’s 59th Annual Grammy Award show was epic. Making history with his win for ‘Best New Artist’, Chance The Rapper is the first black Hip Hop artist to win this Grammy title since Lauryn Hill in 1999. Not to mention, being the first unsigned artist to reach such a plateau, Chance dominated the night with wins for Best Rap Album & Best Rap Performance; a night all true hip hop enthusiasts will remember.
Beating out top hip hop albums like De La Soul’s And The Anonymous Nobody, DJ Khaled’s Major Key, VIEWS by Drake, Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo, and Blank Face LP by ScHoolboy Q, Chance took home 3 out of the 7 awards that he was nominated for. Going up against heavy weights like these guys who do carry the backing of major labels and all the power they possess, to a 23-year-old Chance the Rapper taking home the gold, a most momentous feat. Even his performance was a movement on its own, performing “How Great” and “All We Got” off his Coloring Book album during the ceremony. Claiming the victory in the name of the Lord, the rapper gave a powerful gospel-fused performance, joined by a huge gospel choir, Kirk Franklin, and singer Tamela Mann.
Making his wins possible, the Recording Academy pretty much changed the rules last year because of the innovator, now allowing streaming-only releases to be considered. Realizing that not only signed artists can have that raw, drawing talent, Chance has opened the door for all unsigned artists to receive that ultimate notoriety of a possible Grammy Award. And after climbing to the top of the charts without having sold not one physical copy of his music, or selling much of his music at all, his story only becomes more and more intriguing.
Deemed the future of music by Apple Music’s hip-hop and R&B head Carl Chery, one can only imagine the past he’s had to make it to this monumental point, but in order for great reward, there must be great sacrifice.
Lil’ Chano from 79th – or a one Chancelor Bennett from Chicago wasn’t always on the righteous path we know him to be on today. The brilliant, happy guy who energizes a tired room.
“Last year got addicted to Xans / Started forgetting my name and started missing my chance.” – Finish Line/Drown
The repercussions of drugs are often engulfed in the storyline of the most adept of artists, not only musicians, but those heavily involved in all artistic forms struggle with having the power of the beast and trying to emulate it in the most celestial way; their happy medium falling in the hands of those sometimes detrimental substances we sometimes consider our friends, or comforters; totally missing the signs of a wrong path being taken, it takes a great blessing to overcome. Especially within the hip hop community where the use of drugs, alcohol, and sex is somewhat celebrated within the lyrics, Chance was no objection to the rule as he too utilized his lifestyle as content to push his sound.
Xanned out – or so he called it in his interview with GQ, Chance recalled being heavily doped up after moving to Cali to further sharpen his craft. After dropping Acid Rap in 2013 where the rapper discussed his drug use as a positive, “That Xanax be my dance,” his touch was in high demand. The protege of Kanye West was said to live a life most people could only dream of. But after a six month long trance of working with the Jeremih’s, J. Cole’s, and Frank Ocean’s of the music world, coupled with heavy drug use and women, he would start to see himself in unfamiliar territory.
“I was just fucking tweaking. I was a Xan-zombie, fucking not doing anything productive and just going through relationship after relationship after relationship.”
It is a wise man to walk away from the temptations of the world. Thanking God over and over in his Grammy acceptance speeches as he claimed his victories, Chance would run for cover back to Chicago in order to restore himself. The sacrifice that would stir a revitalizing story as oppose to what it could have been. And with the birth of his daughter, that stronghold of God’s reign over his life would become even more prevalent. Back to his foundation, Chance was able to conquer his demons, quitting his bad habits of Xanax, LSD, no more cigarettes; getting a hold of his lifestyle of which he was originally molded. Working on his groundbreaking Coloring Book album throughout his downtime of finding himself again, he would later make history.
Son to a then-Senator Barack Obama aide, his father saw his son as a possible candidate of office one day like himself serving as Chief Deputy to the current Chicago mayor, unbeknownst to him (his father/Ken Williams-Bennett), Chance would lead another cult type following. And we can’t say we don’t need him for the culture, as his success being a win-win for all is testimony to producing good quality music and staying true to who you are.