Chance the Rapper is killing the charts with his newest album “Coloring Book,” and raked in three awards at this year’s Grammys, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album. At 23 years old, Chance is the first black hip-hop artist to win Best New Artist since Lauryn Hill took home the award in 1999. However, his influence as a black man in the industry constitutes more than just a few big, shiny trophies.
Chance has built his growing fan-base and platinum career exclusively as an independent artist. Unlike entertainers such as Drake and Kanye, he is not signed to a major record label. Many questioned his decision to turn down a $10 million record deal. Chance’s priority, however, is not to make money, but to gift his loyal fans with free music. “Coloring Book” is the first Grammy winning and Billboard 200 charting album that is solely available through streaming. Chance the Rapper has redefined the meaning of success in the music industry. He does not have the million dollar ads and promotions that performers usually have. Instead, he has a loyal fan-base and an undeniable passion for music. Chance is a true artist.
Chance is also a proponent of the Black Lives Matter movement. In late January, President Donald Trump tweeted that if measures were not taken to decrease the violence in Chicago he would send in federal troops. Chance the Rapper, born and raised in a Chi-town suburb, felt that Trump’s comments were unjustified. In a recent interview with The Undefeated he stated that Trump’s proposition does not actually focus on the root of the violence. In reality, it targets minorities and low-income neighborhoods, using them as scapegoats. Rather than dealing with the violence by punishing the people themselves, Chance volunteered another approach: distribute equal funding for the education system and inner-city housing. To show his distaste for Trump’s beliefs during the election, Chance even led thousands of Chicagoans to local polling places in the city.
Many people believe artists should not participate or have a say in politics because they do not have a “normal” life. This belief is unjustified. Chance the Rapper is regular person who has worked hard to be where he is now. Like the most reputable chemists, engineers and educators, his opinions are valid and he should use his platform to draw attention to current social issues. Chance the Rapper is an entertainer for the people, not the music industry. And, that is why I will continue to support him, as an influential person of color, in entertainment.