The Surprising And Raw Backstory Behind Chance The Rapper

Mahogany Bullock
Writer. NYC. ECU Grad.

Most success stories chronicle a turbulent path of failure, hard work and determination. The best stories include dramatic twists and turns, usually including homelessness or your typical “I had to stand outside this important executive office for days until he noticed me” anecdote.

Then there’s the youthful rapper, Chancelor Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper.

His story began during a 10-day suspension during his senior year, which served as inspiration for his debut tape appropriately named “10 Day.” Following high school, he began college only to drop out in an effort to effectively work on his upcoming mixtape. Many can agree, this is not the ideal start to a lengthy music career.

In the past year, the Chicago native has shown the world what it means to be a positive force in hip hop, and how a good spirit can jumpstart your career. Since his first mixtape, the rapper has seemingly been on an upward climb toward being rap’s elite. At the ripe age of 23, many question how Chance has managed to create such an iconic name for himself while remaining an independent artist.

As music takes its usual generational shift, promotion and press are nowhere close to what they used to be. Beyonce dropped one of the country’s best-selling albums without so much as a hint prior to its release. J. Cole invited strangers into his childhood home for exclusive listens of his last project. And Rihanna sent New Yorkers on a scavenger hunt through Lower Manhattan for something that still remains a secret. Instead of watching his predecessors and following in their footsteps, he created a unique blueprint of his own.

After the success of his first two mixtapes, “10 Day” and “Acid Rap,” Chance found himself living lavishly in Los Angeles surrounded by other creative geniuses. As a life he had previously dreamed about, one would expect overwhelming happiness. He was opening for some of his favorites on tour and meeting his idols. Touring with Childish Gambino, playing music with Frank Ocean, at 21 it probably doesn’t get much better for an independent artist. Drugs and alcohol had become a part of his daily life, and he reluctantly embraced it.

Before his third tape, Chance began to yearn for a more fulfilling lifestyle. Although his musical career began with motivation from a high school suspension, Chancelor was a good, soulful kid and it shows in every bar he spits. The young rapper decided to leave LA and go back where his foundation was built – Chicago. He planned to mend his relationship with God and even got back with his girlfriend. Chance claims the birth of their baby had a lasting effect on him, and had much to do with the spirit behind “Coloring Book.”

Chance’s story continued to show promise. Even during his self-proclaimed “darkest days” he was living a life many were envious of. He was just a man who wanted more from fame than drugs and parties.

Once in Chicago, one of the biggest names from his hometown requested Chance’s presence on his upcoming project — “The Life of Pablo.” Kanye West flew Chance back to LA for a feature or two, and what he got was more inspiration than he could have asked for. Chance offered his opinion, which included his undeniable faith and trust in God. He shared this with Kanye, and it is heard well throughout the album, undoubtedly making it the massive success it became after its release.

Chance grew as an artist, as a man, and as a father, all of which were evident after the release of Coloring Book. He released something we had never heard, and something we weren’t even aware we needed. The irrefutable traces of gospel weaved into one of rap’s most unique projects deserves awards that don’t even exist; it is well ahead of it’s time. As Chance set himself apart from other rappers as a genuine soul with an intentional following of God, he has managed to unintentionally create an unbreakable brand.

Since the release of his last project, he created his own music festival and is often seen under the wings of the greatest musicians of our time. Rather than pose a threat to potential competition, Chance openly adores those who came before him. His song “Blessings” is an ode to his blessed life, and he shares small moments from his life that create a much bigger picture. His love for Kanye, his desire to remain unsigned, and his devotion to God are all mentioned.

It’s rare for a rapper to be so raw while remaining pure. You’ll often see fans on social media exclaiming “please protect Chance.” What they don’t know is that he protects himself with his intent to remain humble, Christian, and good.

He is the younger brother we all love and admire, and dare anybody to step to him. He’s our pride and joy. In a time where Black lives don’t matter, Chance has made it his mission to show everyone why they do.

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