We’re still buying it, but let us recognize Chance’s whole persona.
The golden boy wins again. As you’ve probably heard, our lord and savior, Chance the Rapper, is being credited with rescuing SoundCloud. Chance swooped in after TechCrunch reported that SoundCloud only had 50 days left to live last Wednesday, sparking blogs and music sites to pick up and spread the story. But did he actually save the site? Chance tweeted the next day that he was “working on the Soundcloud thing,” then a day later that he had a “very fruitful” phone call with founder Alex Ljung, and that SoundCloud is here to stay. Conveniently, Chance dropped a track exclusively on Soundcloud with Young Thug that night, and began retweeting posts from excited fans linking the song, asserting he saved Soundcloud. However, the news that SoundCloud only had 50 days left was denied as false by Ljung the day after TechCrunch’s story, when Chance was still “working on” it. So what did Chance really do? Validate something that was already the truth?
Chance’s SoundCloud success also, conveniently, comes after he’s continuously taken heat from fans for signing a deal with Apple Music, putting a damper on his “music should always be free” mantra. This doesn’t necessarily mean Chance is being tricky or he shouldn’t be credited with SoundCloud’s survival; he truly has supported the site since the beginning of his music career, and in turn, supported the countless number of independent artists who use the site as well. But the way this worked out for Chance made me think about how we as fans and music consumers see him, and more importantly, how he wants to be seen.
When Chance first came around in the 10 Day and Gambino-touring era, he wasn’t the saint he is today. He was just an angsty teen with a nose ring. Gambino’s manager, Fam Rothstein, once joked that he couldn’t even get Chance to hold open a door for him. After Acid Rap rocketed him to fame and he began working with the Social Experiment, Chance started becoming the nice guy we all know him as today. With the addition of the humble overalls to his wardrobe, a song for his grandmother, a bright smile instead of a nose ring, and becoming a father to a baby girl, Chance took on his saintly image. Coloring Book marked Chance’s move into holiness, and it seemed like with God on his side, the man was untouchable. Everybody— even people who say they hate rap— loved Chance the Rapper.
Considering oneself to be a super Chance fan since Acid Rap, his music touched deeply; so witnessing his charity contributions and how sweet his new “Sunday Candy” persona was, the same sentiment of everyone everyone else was shared: protect Chance at all costs. But the signs that Chance may not be the second coming of Christ have tallied up over the years Sin is inescapable after all.
But in all honesty, it’s hard to shake Chance putting notoriously accused rapist and now apparent cult leader R. Kelly on his 2015 single “Somewhere in Paradise,” not to mention bringing him out as a guest at Lollapalooza the year before. But what really hit was the recent news that Chance and his manager had MTV take down a less-than-sparkling review of Coloring Book, just before MTV News dissolved their writing department. According to Spin, he and his manager, Pat, told MTV they needed to take down the piece or he’d never work with the network again. As a music journalist, that hit a little too close to home. Even Jesus could handle some negative press.
Chance isn’t single handedly responsible for MTV News laying off writers, and it’s a sticky situation, but threatening the network was not the move. For someone who preaches kindness and Christianity, calling a review where the author says they simply don’t relate to Coloring Book themes “offensive,” is just snakey— rather than not one of Chance’s usual noble — rather than not one of Chance’s usual angelic acts. Chance himself never addressed the event publicly, so it’s also been swept under the rug relatively quickly. Especially with events like him “saving” SoundCloud, and dropping hints about his new album and new songs with Childish Gambino while announcing a second NYC show in September on Instagram Live. It could also be the fact that fans aren’t yet ready to admit Chance is anything less than the holy image he owns.
This is not to say Chance is trash (like this aggressive yet unsupported piece). The man is an incredible artist and has so many young people looking up to him. He’s a charity worker, a true supporter of Chicago, and is trying to be a great father. So when half the new XXL Freshman class has been caught or accused of assaulting women, accused rapist Kodak Black says things like he doesn’t like dark skinned women, and R. Kelly’s cult is being uncovered, Chance has more than earned his right to be Hip-hop’s golden boy.
Just remember he’s as flawed as every other human, as well as every celebrity who feels the need to protect their assets and image. Chance is just as susceptible to the temptations and evils of the music industry as anyone else, no matter how many times he raps about giving Satan a swirly. If blogs and news outlets are supposed to push the culture forward, we have to report on his blunders just as we celebrate his success. Our greatness is not to be mistaken as the actual greatness of Christ. We all need to own up to our transgressions. Pray to Chance if you will, but stay woke.