Chance the Rapper is bigger than music; he is hope.
The incredible artist is not only the beacon of light for his listeners, but for the very city that he calls home, Chicago. In the past, artists who have claimed the Windy City as their own have proudly supported their hometown. But, more than ever, Chicago has a new light, one that has set himself on a journey to change, elevate, and promote the city artistically through community initiatives and within each and every heart that it touches. Most movements require not only a purpose but a leader to expedite positive change. Chance is that person for Chicago. Why is that? Well, here are the reasons why I believe that, aside from his music, he is the leader who will further shine a light on Chicago as it prospers more and more each day.
Chance's Family Has Government And Community Outreach Experience
Political and community development is not as black and white as most think. Although we may know what the right thing to do is, change doesn't always happen overnight due to complexities within laws, current financial standings, and additional intangibles. However, having an understanding of these challenges is the first step toward change. Both Chance and his brother Taylor Bennett may have successful artistic influences, but don't be fooled; they are aware of community and government initiatives, as well as other things. And part of the reason why is probably thanks to their father, Ken Bennett. Bennett has served in major governmental roles throughout his career, both local and national. His resume shows that not only does he have deep roots in Chicago but that he has a first-hand understanding of governmental complexities. During his career, Chance's father has served the City of Chicago and former President Barack Obama, holding positions ranging from Director of Field Operations to the White House's Deputy Assistant. Bennett's tight connection to the community and government officials paints not only a clear picture of his political involvement, but also the civic, philanthropic, and advocate force that we see within Chance. One that could make change.
Chance's Music Shows A Musical Depiction Of The Highs And Lows Of Inner Cities
Music is not only an artistic art form, but it is a vehicle used to interpret one's environment, both negative and positive. Such influences within the Chicago community are witnessed with the evolution of Chance the Rapper's music. Listeners are able to hear both sides of the spectrum. Starting with 10 Day, we hear a more upbeat project that was recorded while Chance was on a 10-day suspension from high school for weed-related activities. From there, we move on to Acid Rap, a decline into the darker times, one where Chance struggled with drug addiction. In an interview with GQ, Chance said, “I was just doing a lot of drugs, just hanging out. I was gone all the time...was Xanned out every f--king day.”
Although that is his individual experience, drug addiction isn't new to Chicago, it is a destructive enemy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there has been an observed trend of heroin, cocaine and marijuana/cannabis use within Chicago. And according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 2,113 heroin deaths in Illinois from 2013 to 2015. Out of that amount, 1,425 of those deaths occurred in Chicago and its counties. Such an insidious grasp, although maybe not as severe, is one that Chance knows all so well, making it easier for him to relate to the severe conflicts within his city on all levels. But this astounding artist isn't just affected by negative influences but also positive ones, which we've heard on Coloring Book. The spiritual and positive messages dictated within the album also projects the influence and showcases the root that churches have had within the black community. Churches have been a staple in the black community for as far back as we can go, and one that served and still serves as a sanctuary during hard times. With exposure to both influences, Chance can empathize and assist with taking the necessary actions to get his local government on the right page.
He's Vocal And Fearless, Traits That Are A Must In True Leaders
If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible "carnage" going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in his 1965 Selma speech, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Well, Chance the Rapper hasn't been silent since, speaking out on what's right and what's wrong. Especially when it came to our current President Donald Trump's comments on Chicago.
One could simply stand back, but with a place so dear to him, he did not allow that to happen. And instead, stood up and used his platform to vocalize his displeasure, protecting his home and those within it.
"I hope he’s coming in to do some type of federal overturn of our state and city budgets in terms of schooling and housing," Chance said in an interview with The Undefeated, "I’m tired of n—–s talkin’ about Chicago like it’s a Third World country. Like, that it’s not a place of booming business with a very successful downtown and all types of new development...It sounds like he was announcin’ he was going to war with Chicago, I don’t like to look at s— through that lens." And if he is not afraid to speak up against the current present, no one will push him away from doing right by his city.
He Doesn't Just Talk That Talk, He Also Walks That Walk
As someone who is so influential, Chance could use his social media to speak on important subject matters and that's it. But, his words are backed up by actions. He practices what he preaches. For example, with this past presidential election Chance, who openly supported Hillary Clinton, threw a free concert in Chicago, encouraging people to vote. And it didn't stop there, he teamed up with a Detroit-based charity to bring at least 1,000 high-tech coats to Chicago's homeless population, raised $100,000 for Chicago's homeless, and the list goes on. Nothing is more powerful than using your influence for positive change.
Now, in no shape or form can I sit here and position myself as someone who knows everything about Chicago. I can say I don't. But what I do know is that great change and empowerment comes from one courageous person who puts everything that they have on the line to make life better for everyone. And Chance the Rapper is doing that every day....with a Grammy in hand.