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5 times Chance the Rapper broke music boundaries

5 times Chance the Rapper broke music boundaries

#ManCrushMonday

Text: Megan Koh


Image: Getty Images

Chance the Rapper found fame on his own terms. Before you catch the Grammy Award-winning rapper in Singapore for the first time this August, find out how he broke music boundaries and emerged to be a breakout star

1. He gives his music away for free
The 2017 Grammy winner of Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album has never sold a single record. Believing in unlimiting his work and making a connection, the 24-year-old rapper from Chicago felt that putting a price tag on his creativity was equal to restraining everything he believed in. While he did have plans to sign with a label after his second mixtape, Acid Rap, they fell through after meeting three major record labels. Chance the Rapper (real name: Chancelor Bennett) realised that his strength continued to lie in offering his fans music without any price and limits. He has stuck with it since, making money from touring and selling merchandise instead. All of his songs are still available on platforms for free.

2. He rejected a $10 million record deal
Aligning with his belief to provide music free for his fans, Chance the Rapper remains unsigned to any record label. He was offered $10 million deals and a direct chance to work with Kanye's label under G.O.O.D Music, only to walk away from them all. Citing his wish to be an example to budding artists finding their mark in the scene, Chance the Rapper hopes to show that one does not need to follow the traditional ways of the industry only to be trapped under management. His single, 'No Problem' (featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz) takes a direct diss at the music industry and warns against labels. That same song earned him a Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 2017, shushing critics, anti-fans and labels for a long time to come.

3. He won the first Grammy for a streaming-only album
Chance the Rapper made history as the first artist to win a Grammy based on a streaming-only album. In 2017, the Academy revised their criteria to include streaming-only albums to be considered for the prestigious award for the first time. This was a month after Chance the Rapper released his third album, Colouring Book, that was streamed for free for two weeks on Apple Music and then subsequently on his SoundCloud channels. While the Academy insists that the streaming-related change was not inspired by Chance the Rapper, the rule change definitely favoured him, allowing Colouring Book to be the first streaming-only album to be nominated and ultimately win a Grammy for Best Rap Album last year.

4. He beat Drake and Kanye West to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album
Grammy Awards are no easy win, especially when you are up against contenders like Kanye West and Drake. But Chance the Rapper did just that with his streaming-only album, Colouring Book, that made Grammy history in 2017. The rap giants are known and loved in the scene but Chance the Rapper, then 23, appealed to a new crowd who longed for a more personable work and sincere music-making. 

5. He stays transparent on social media
On his social media channels, Chance the Rapper is smart, quirky and transparent. The rapper often merges his personal space into his work sphere by releasing music previews on social media and dropping freestyle raps on his Twitter and Instagram. His more personal platforms on Twitter and Instagram see him freestyling for his girlfriend, dropping a rap alongside a ukulele performance and sharing political discourse over the net. It's as if you know this guy, want to hang and hear him rap. You'll get to do all of that in August when he visits the island for tour.

Listen to Chance the Rapper's third album, Colouring Book, here.
Chance the Rapper performs live in Singapore on 25 August at ZEPP@BIGBOX. Tickets to go on sale on 22 June here.
For last week's #ManCrushMonday, click here.

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