By Amanda Wicks
“Little Chano from the 79th” — aka Chance the Rapper — has come a long way from his time recording homemade mixtapes to share with his high school friends in Chicago. The rapper will be competing in several GRAMMY categories this year, including Best New Artist, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.
The nominations are an extra feather in Chance’s permanent baseball cap because he petitioned the Recording Academy in 2016 to include streaming-only music. Chance has yet to physically release his music, which used to comprise a major regulation for GRAMMY Award eligibility. With an impressive seven nominations in his first year, here are three things you should know about Chance the Rapper.
1. All of His Music is Free
Part of the reason Chance petitioned the Recording Academy about streaming-only music is because, so far, he releases all of his music free of charge. Chance isn’t signed to a label and he has yet to physically release his music; instead, fans can sign on to Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud and myriad other platforms to hear his tracks. “It’s not about the music being free. It’s about how it is displayed and made accessible and about artistic power,” he told Billboard.
2. He Spreads Joy
Besides creating the “Optimistic Challenge,” Chance the Rapper hosts regular “Open Mike” nights in Chicago, which invite area high school students to perform. The night isn’t just a talent show; Chance also invites big names to speak to attendees about pressing issues. For the very first Open Mike of 2017, comedian Dave Chappelle surprised the crowd and shared an encouraging message about the purpose artists have in society.
3. He Loves Kanye West
Growing up in the Windy City, it makes sense that Chance would have an affinity for fellow hometown rapper Kanye West. But he’s more than just a fan, he’s a super fan. When Complex released a list ranking West’s albums, Chance responded with his own listing, and has often cited West as a major influence. The two are even working on a collaborative album together.