Fuse is once again celebrating an extended Black History Month by highlighting a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Black History before our very eyes. Today we recognize Chance the Rapper, Chicago's 23-year-old guiding light for all things hip-hop and social action.
There's a reason why, on last year's "Grown Ass Kid," Chancellor Bennett declared, "Everybody finally can say it out loud, 'My favorite rapper a Christian rapper'"—and it's not just because he's a man of god. He's an outlier in the world of main-stage rap, an endlessly generous soul with unshakable morals; an emcee for the people, who loves the people, and speaks to everyone who'll listen. Chance has never sold a single song, delivering his mixtapes 10 Day, Acid Rap and Coloring Book (one of the absolute best releases of last year), and collaborative projects with the Social Experiment and Lil B, for free online. He was SNL's first-ever totally independent musical guest, touching the stage twice last season, once with Kanye West.
Chano's kindness, magnetism and vocal label-skewering ("Label deals suck, that’s just the truth of it," he once told the Wall Street Journal) aren't even close to the only reasons he'll be studied and listened to for years and years to come. His commitment to social justice, community outreach, charity and activism of all sorts could already fill a book. He's got a nonprofit, SocialWorks, that works to create "accessible interactive spaces and experiences" and "nurture local talent and open new doors." He co-created a campaign to get 1,000 high-tech winter coats to homeless people in Chicago, and another one to get his city to halt all gun violence during the often-violent Memorial Day. He led thousands to the Chi-Town presidential polls on Nov. 8, telling the voters, "If you wake up in the morning and feel like you're just one person...man, you're so much more than that!"
And he hosts big open mic nights for local high-schoolers; just this week, Dave Chappelle dropped in.
In 2015, Chance laid out his philosophy for his extra-musical actions, telling Complex:
"I think, as a black man, I have a responsibility to have knowledge and have an opinion. I don’t necessarily think, as a person of influence, that it’s always my job to influence people regarding my opinion. I try to explain to people a lot: There is no singular black experience or black opinion or black thought. We are united in a lot of experiences. Because I’m a black man, the life that I live is a part of the black experience, but it’s not something I can just pass off as the ultimate. I think it’s important for me to be qualified to have an opinion on it, and it be informed, but I don’t necessarily think using my platform is always the right thing. It’s more important for [people] to have information. I don’t necessarily always have information."
Chance the Rapper isn't just an integral part of Black History Month's future; he's shaping its present, already.
Fuse is celebrating Future Black History all month long. Tune in to Fuse and come back to Fuse.tv every day for profiles, videos and more. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder, and get to know Chance the Rapper more below with our 2013 hang/fencing match: