At just 23 years old, Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, also known as, Chance the Rapper has seen more success than many artists signed to major labels. Chance is an independent artist who does not sell his music, but rather gives it to listeners free of charge. His stream-only album, Coloring Book, was the first of its kind to be nominated for one of music’s highest honors, a Grammy award. He received three of these awards for the Coloring Book project. It is remarkable that he was able to achieve this without selling one physical copy of the album. Chance can also be heard featured on albums and singles by other notable artist such as Kanye West, Action Bronson, Snakehips, Tinashe, Kehlani, BJ the Chicago Kid, Skrillex, Justin Bieber, and Childish Gambino to name a few.
Chance built his career with a grassroots approach. He learned many of his techniques such as gathering momentum among his community from his father, a career political aid to former President and Illinois Senator, Barack Obama and former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. His father is very active in the community gathering grassroots support with the use of door to door campaigns for example.
Chance’s first full-length project was a mixtape entitled 10-day (2012). This project was recorded in a humble library studio in his hometown and took place during a 10-day suspension he was serving. Chance went on to release Acid Rap (2013) and Coloring Book in (2016).
Aspiring artist should take a cue from Chance, to grind and create an authentic buzz among listeners. Another take-away for artist is that success can be reached without a label. Having a great team in place will be necessary at some point, but before this, artists can develop themselves and their sound very easily through online resources and modern technology that was virtually unheard of just a decade prior. This process is also a lot more affordable these days with standard music programs on cell phones and laptops and can be recorded virtually anywhere. Chance’s success seems to be a perfect marriage of talent that is met with opportunity.
His mix of gospel influence and his high-energy lifestyle show his depth and make him extremely relatable to his audience. Chance raps about his authentic life experiences and approaches music with a voice that is distinct from other popular artists right now. Chance also made powerful statements in the music industry when he refused multi million-dollar label deals to pursue his musical journey on his own terms.
His status as an independent artist has helped him to control all aspects of his music, marketing, touring, merchandising, and any public appearances. In a recent interview Chance alluded to possibly selling his next project. He explained that his intent with free music was to prove to himself and other artist that the backing of a major record label is not always necessary. He explained that the three projects previously mentioned served as a trilogy together and he always had the intent to give them away. What’s up next for Chance the Rapper? Only time will tell us that story.
By: Sasha Poché