Chance the Rapper at Electric London

Music Is All We’ve Got?

I hope Kanye gets well soon, not from a selfish ’rap game needs him’ sensibility as a fan, just out of love and respect as a fellow human being. He has contributed so much to our lives and he really doesn’t owe anyone anything. Although he will never choose it, the privilege of some kind of normality that we all enjoy and take for granted is something that he deserves and will hopefully experience at some point.

Kanye West has inspired generations of artists, DJs, execs, creatives, politicians, people from all walks of life, demographics, ages, genders, etc. So it should be no surprise that one of the most innovative artists in recent years was influenced by ’Through The Wire’ by Kanye West. “I think every rapper from Chicago at some point, thought about, wondered what, Kanye West thought of their music, if Kanye West had heard their music. I was the same way and very open about how I felt about wanting to meet Kanye West”, reflected Chance The Rapper who was inspired to rap after hearing Kanye’s debut single on a local radio station.

I know how it sounds, a young Chi-Town MC inspired by Kanye…seems obvious right? Most Chicago MCs have been inspired by Ye’ at some point in their careers, but few have managed to come anyway near the breadth of Chance’s artistry. He is much more than a rapper, he is taking Hip Hop in a totally different direction spiritually and musically. He is an activist, actor, and master collaborator that can direct and work with musicians, singers, and dancers. He brings the soulful, gospel, theatrical elements to Hip Hop, he exemplifies the ethos of G.O.O.D. He is getting out all of his dreams and encouraging everyone to do the same thing even though it was years before he met Kanye or actually worked with him.

It’s fascinating to see how the ‘College Dropout’ was indirectly responsible for ’10 Day’, ‘Acid Rap’, ‘Surf’, and ‘Coloring Book’, then Chance returned the favour by guiding and collaborating on some of the key moments from Kanye’s ’Life Of Pablo’ album. The soulful gospel Kanye passed a creative baton and Chance has ran with it ever since. He is “Kanye’s best protege” and he made ‘Ultra Light Beam’ so he is “never going to hell.”

I’ve been fortunate to interview Chance several times and watch him perform on each of his UK tours with the Social Experiment. I played ‘Acid Rap’ daily when it dropped, which was replaced by daily rotation of ‘Surf’, which was replaced by daily rotation of ‘Coloring Book’. It’s safe to say that I’m a fan and I had one question that I was keen to ask him more than anything else…is music all we’ve got?

‘All We Got’ is a very dope track, but at the same time it’s a slightly sombre prospect. When I first heard it, I was like nah, they were just in the zone, that’s not true, we’ve got more right?

Then I watched as the world changed this year. I witnessed news that wasn’t news influence the course of history. We were showered with lies and mis-information, denied the real facts, saturated with VH1 guilty pleasure shows that take the edge of reality. We got distracted, forgot to care. Maybe Chance and Ye’ were right…music is all we’ve got.

The truth is, you’re not helpless and America wasn’t always that way and you gotta fight for your right and that’s just the truth.

The direct answer that I got from Chance wasn’t what I expected and what he said later on in the interview was almost a contradiction. Referring to the recent US elections Chance explained, “The truth is, you’re not helpless and America wasn’t always that way and you gotta fight for your right and that’s just the truth. People will try and shame you from protesting, people will try and discourage you from speaking truths but like your power is in your word, and the word, and being faithful, and being always an honest person.” A reminder that keeping it 1000, being true to self still means something in era that is consumed by social media.

“I think as far as voting goes, specifically for voting, they only pump it up every four years and make every one excited and make every one feel like it’s their civic duty all of a sudden” reflected Chance. “But the truth is you’re most effective voting in your state than local elections. If you want to exact change, then just do a little research on who’s running in the next few years for congress, really who’s running for your alderman, in your district and your ward.” The strength of the community is often under valued, a forgotten ideal to many.

Music isn’t all we’ve got, we have our voices, we have each other. Without sounding like I’m on some ‘we are the world shit’ it is a sentiment that we don’t celebrate or embrace as much as we could. Friends, fam, colleagues, associates, neighbours…we are all community. It’s obvious, it’s staring right at us, but we take it for granted because we have let technology divide distract us from this.

We’ve got music, but the Community is a collective immeasurable power that doesn’t get exercised until things get bad. Galvanised at the last minute in reaction to something we forgot to care about.

We have to be more than woke, we have to empower each other, educate, vote, write, and inspire for the sake of future generations.

We’ve been turning up. It’s time that we focus less on consuming, more on caring. Care about your fellow human and where we are going.

On ‘Coloring Book’ Chance describes himself as “The blueprint to a real man.” Which is similar to the description of his father in the interview, “[My Dad], he is my hero, and the one and only real deal example of what a man’s supposed to be like, what a real man’s supposed to be like.” An enviable honesty for some, but a paternal tradition that we should all strive to inherit and pass on.

We’ve got music and we have the ability to inflict a positive existence in the next chapter of our lifetime from the community upwards.  We are one race, we eat the same food. We just need to get better at being progressively in sync and keeping it 1000 with ourselves.

Catch my full interview with Chance The Rapper on Friday from 10pm on 1xtra.