After a 10-day suspension that motivated his debut mixtape, CHANCE THE RAPPER hits the right rhythm tripping on acid rap with his sophomore release. Taking a backseat from the spotlight, the young MC from Chicago joins his crew and longtime buds.
Look at what the Windy City blew in. What are the chances of a budding Chi-Town rapper fresh off high school to have his name up in lights despite having remained independent after two releases? Though he is miles away from walking along the path of rap visionaries like Yeezy and K.Dot, he is treading on the right track–but he is certainly making a trail of his own. At 21 years young, Chancelor Bennett, more commonly known as Chance The Rapper, rides on the high of his second mixtape, Acid Rap, rigorously touring and having steady stints of guest spots on songs for high-profile artists. With praises from some of the sharpest music publications and critics, the hip-hop rookie boldly wrapped his cartoonish cadence around the hallucinogenic flow of his beats in his follow-up to #10Day.
Type the rapper’s name in the search bar quickly and artists like Childish Gambino, Lil Wayne, Skrillex, and Madonna will pop up. However, he remains humble on the rapport that he has built. “I don’t really like to do the whole name- dropping in an interview,” he says with ease. “For me, being so young and not necessarily having an orthodox upbringing in music or having a traditional setting for how I distribute my music, the artistic community has been super accepting. Everybody has helped me out a lot with advice and musical education.” He adds, “So far, I’ve been working with so many dope artists and I think it’s important to take as much information as possible.”
With all eyes–and ears–on his next step, Chance took a leap that no one saw coming. While the prophetic phrase, “Bros before hoes” is not the case in this point, he gathered his best mates to help him jump to the upper echelons of the hip-hop universe. Comprised of Chancelor Bennett (The Rapper), Peter Cottontale (Music Director/Keys), Nate Fox (Keys), Greg Landfair Jr. (Drums), and Nico Segal a.k.a. Donnie Trumpet (Trumpet/Backing vocals), The Social Experiment is a musical creative that came together organically. “We formed the band during my first tour two years ago. I’ve been doing opening slots on tours and other stuff for the past two years, but I haven’t really toured by myself yet. So I brought together this group of people who I worked with from the production on Acid Rap and #10Day, and they ended up being my band,” Chance recalls. “We started making new music on the road, but we’ve grown more and have been focused on making a dope live performances and doing the same thing on the record.”
With Surf slated to hit the waves soon, the audience has been constantly teased by the tracks released on Chance’s official SoundCloud and their live performances. “From the jump, we just wanted to make dope ass music, and we started doing that together, trying to get a bigger grandiose sound and trying to kill shit for live performances. It’s been really good for our projects and everything I’ve been working for the future. The creative process is a lot more fun ‘cause we’re a little bit more mature now,” Chance relays. “We’ve gotten a lot of decent reviews for the music that we’ve performed and we’re still having pretty good shows. I’m excited for how excited the people are for the project.”
Releasing “Sunday Candy” last November via Fader was the first taste we had for this new project. Aside from diverse influences coming from each member, their motivations stir from random, yet practical, ideas: e.g. The Lion King on Broadway. “We’ve all been watching that a lot lately, and we’ve been trying to pull a lot of influences from theater.” With a very dramatic, cinematic theme to the track, Surf goes beyond what the song gives us. “There’s a wide range of ways to categorize each song from themes to style of recording. Overall, it’s a different sounding record, but they all touch on a specific vibe and have a geographic theme, a genre theme, and then an emotional theme to them, and could be broken down in different ways,” explains Chancelor.
As he mentioned before with Billboard, Surf is meant to be a free listenable project. “Specifically for our project, we try to keep the idea of a bohemian approach to making music and releasing music; kind of making music for art rather than consumerism,” he explains. “It’s not necessarily an argument that music should be free or that there’s no value in music. I think that’s part of the reason why I’ve been making my music free. There’s no market price for music.” And he wants to keep it that way. “I can’t speak for everyone, but in my situation, I have it really good ‘cause I’m the seller. I’m not the consumer and I’m also not the product. I make what I make and I push it. There’s a lot of things that I get to do with the release of my music,” the rapper goes on, “You don’t really have the same creativity as when you’re the person creating the product. There’s just this idea that I have of musical value that makes me believe that at a certain point, an artist will make music for other artists and for music lovers, and it won’t necessarily be used for advertising or anything, just to make a good song.”
With the hype surrounding his projects with The Social Experiment as well as his anti-social experiment, Chance simply wraps himself around the buzz. “I think it makes us hungry to create music. I like the pressure of recording a project that everybody is waiting for. And I know after Surf drops or after whatever comes after that, there will be more of the same kind of pressure.” However, for the fans of his first two mixtapes, this new project might ring in hesitation. But he’s running the risk with a good purpose. “I know that no matter what, I can’t make any music that people expect, so it doesn’t really change the way that I make music. But it does excite me to a certain extent ‘cause I do like the feeling of knowing that I’m making something for an ear or two, or something that’s going to get listened to.”
Still not fully convinced to give this young rapper a listen? Take a chance and get one right hear.
By Pola Beronilla
Photographed by Zoe Rain
Styled by Whitney Middleton