Chance's Road to the Grammys (From the Perspective of a CPS Kid)
By Rasaan Khalil
This year, the Grammys will have a different sort of a twist as Chance the Rapper makes his presence known as the first totally independent artist with 7 Grammy nominations. In addition to no major (or indie) label support, Chance's Coloring Book is the first streaming only album to be considered for a Grammy. Chance is living proof that you it's finally possible to "pass out music" as he so beautifully explains in "Blessings 2", and be acknowledged by the Recording Academy.
1. Before Chance was selling out arenas, he was a product of Chicago's colorful open mic scene.
Like many Chicago's creative youth, Chance got his feet wet in performing in local open mic programs like YouMedia and WordPlay at Young Chicago Authors. It was in these havens for young artists that he met other current collaborators like Noname, Malcolm London, and Saba Pivot. Chance is so strongly tied to his root in the spoken word, open mic scene that he holds his own monthly "Open Mike" for high school students in honor of his late mentor Mike Hawkins.
2. Chance's first mixtape "10 Day" set the precedent for future great projects.
10 Day, titled after a 10 day suspension he received for smoking weed on school grounds, was highly anticipated and filled with production/verses from his SaveMoney crew. It garnered over 400,000 downloads on DatPiff. The first song I had ever heard by Chance was "22 Offs" and I thought it was one of the weirdest things I had ever heard. The song was trending and I was curious as to who he was, so I clicked the YouTube link and was surprised to say the least. During this time back in 2012, I was super into the Chief Keef wave. So, I expected for Chance to be similar artistically. His flow, delivery, and vocal pitch all caught me off guard, and he wasn't rapping about shooting people. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew it would get more dope from there.
3. Acid Rap catapulted Chance into the national spotlight.
Acid Rap was downloaded over a million times. Chance dazzled the world this time with quirky, elaborate flows and a unique, introspective style with songs like "Cocoa Butter Kisses" and "Acid Rain". Yet. he was also able to express his feelings concerning his community in "Paranoia". By the time Acid Rap dropped, the entire Chicago Creative's Community (CCC) had already known who he was. The night it dropped, my homies and I drove around the block at least five times blasting "Juice".
4. He collaborated and wrote for Kanye West.
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Chance explains how he met Kanye and their experience in the studio. This finally gave him the stamp from his long time idol that he was looking for. When "Ultralight Beam" premiered, I was watching from my favorite couch with my moms turning up on the edge of my seat. All of the Chicago flavor dripping from the stage made me proud.
5. 7 Grammy Nominations and a change of plans for the Recording Academy.
After his free.99, streaming album Coloring Book hit #8 on the Billboard Charts. This led to the a petition for streaming only albums to become eligible for Grammy nomination, 7 Grammy nominations, and a nomination party in Chicago.
Proud of you homie!