August 4, 2014


Chance the Rapper Brings Out R. Kelly as Surprise Guest to Shut Down Lollapalooza

Erika Goldring/FilmMagic
Erika Goldring/FilmMagic

Chance the Rapper was one of the four acts closing Lollapalooza 2014, so you knew the Chicago native was going to put on for his city and shut down the festival right. But with a set that payed tribute to local blues history and brought out natives R. Kelly and Vic Mensa, we don't think anyone anticipated how fantastically the hometown hero would tribute Chi-Town.

Kelly announced his impending appearance on Instagram right before taking the stage, posting a picture of Chance and writing, "Surprise Chicago!!! Bout to kill the @lollapalooza stage with @chancetherapper !!!"

His cameo partway through the set shocked and electrified the crowd. Kellz riffed his way through 2002 single "World's Greatest," then stuck around to belt out the intro of "Bump n' Grind" ("My mind's telling me no / But my body's telling me yes!"). To close out the mini-appearance, Kelly launched into his always-relevant "Ignition (Remix)" as Chance sang along and played hype man. (Check out a snippet of that performance below, which Fuse posted on Instagram.)

Soon after Kellz departed the stage, he was replaced by frequent Chance collaborator and fellow Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, and the duo launched into their collabo "Cocoa Butter Kisses." 

But Chance's set paid homage to Chi-Town with more than just its cameos. The 21-year-old rapper had kicked off the night by declaring, "I got the Chicago blues!" While that could have been a throwaway Chicago shout-out from any other artist, Chance truly meant it; his backing band featured a trumpeter, trombonist and soulful backup singers. 

Despite having only two official mixtapes to his name—and no full-length album—Chance had more than enough material to re-imagine with touches of Chicago jazz, soul and blues. There was a trumpet-laden version of Acid Rap's "Pusha Man," a groovin' blues reinterpretation of 10 Day cut "Brain Cells" and a jazzy, passionate take on the beloved Arthur TV theme song—surely a nostalgic moment for the teens and twenty-somethings in the audience. (While Wyclef JeanJessie Ware, Elle Varner and more feature on Chance's recently-released studio version of the children's song, none of those artists came out to join his performance of the track.)

As the set continued, Chance brought more standout musical moments: "Paradise" sounded like a modern-day, hip hop take on Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly," the gospel-leaning, quieter "Interlude (That's Love)" took the audience to church for a moment and Chance even showed off his shuffling skills, breaking into a dance breakdown at one point and later performing the cha-cha slide with a troupe of backup dancers.

"I appreciate you very much," the rapper told the crowd as he finished his set a few minutes before the 10 p.m. shutdown. "This is too real... y'all don't understand what this feels like!" And with that Chance ended his time at Lollapalooza by jumping into the pit to show love to those in the front rows. There wasn't a dramatic signing off, but maybe that's because this is only the beginning of what the young MC has to offer. Why say goodbye if you haven't even really started? See you next year, Lolla fans.