Chicago native Chance the Rapper made history on Feb. 12 when he won Best New Artist, and beat out major competitors such as Kanye West and Drake for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance at the 2017 Grammy’s.
As an independent artist with no record label, Chance accomplished these feats with his free-to-stream album, Coloring Book. The significance of his wins goes beyond the fact that he’s new to the rap industry.
Current and upcoming artists need to pay attention to how Chance is making his mark in the industry and they should follow in his footsteps if they want to have a similar impact.
By not feeding into the pressures put on artists by label companies, Chance has been going against the grain, which gives greater opportunity and hope to current independent artists trying to make it big.
Independent artists avoid certain restrictions that a record label can otherwise place on the music an artist produces and their image presented to the public.
This creates a new relationship between artists and their fan bases because there is an authentic level of respect since the artist’s work isn’t interfered with by the record label. The artist owns and has total control over their creative freedom.
Proving that it’s possible to go as far as he has without the formality of a major label is revolutionary for the music industry; Chance has shown the power streaming albums can have.
Lyrically, musically and actively Chance has been stayed true to himself and his message of hope, acceptance and freedom for all.
In numerous interviews, Chance has said he makes music for himself and the public — not for the money — by allowing his music to be streamed freely for larger audiences to hear him at no cost.
Music is a form of art and art is a form of expression. Chance has used his music to express and shed light on his faith. By wearing his religion on his sleeve, Chance has opened a dialogue and has given a new angle for discussing religion in music. His songs are prayers. By taking Gospel music to the mainstream, he’s providing a safe space for those questioning their relationship to God.
He’s shedding light on conversations that need to be had in communities where there are high levels of entropy and misunderstandings by singing about topics that many find troubling.
More artists should focus their lyrics on more serious topics such as religion and violence. Lyrics like Chance’s can unite a populous and bring upon a social movement for the common good.
In his acceptance speech for Best New Artist at the Grammy’s, Chance thanked the entire city of Chicago for its constant support. If more artists harnessed the power of their platform and rooted it in a dedication of their hometown, a stronger bond can be created between an artist and their fans.
Chance has displayed his bond with his fans by being an activist within Chicago. He has used his platform to speak out against gun violence in Chicago through movements such as #SaveChicago and My Brother’s Keeper Challenge.
The gesture of giving back and being aware of the issues that artists’ communities face allows for everyone to continue to see the artist as a community member and not some celebrity all-star that is untouchable.
Chance has become a new role model for many, not just rappers, singers or Chicago natives. Winning three Grammys’ solidifies the benefits respecting and reflecting on one’s community can have.