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“We were created to be creators,” the Atlanta saxophonist informed me before the release party for his debut album began. Despite having just arrived home from touring with the legendary Stevie Wonder, fourth generation saxophonist Ryan Kilgore was full of energy and eager to talk. His stylish dark brown suit, paired with a crisp collared white shirt, and playful polka dot bowtie, hinted at his ability to create a well put together outfit. The musical note design cut into his hair marked him as a musician while further validating his playful style. But his fashion sense is no match for his God-given musical talent. “Just Walk,” his latest project, illustrated the very essence of his story: walking into destiny.
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Let’s think about green. Not green as in drug use or the actual color green but green as in young, as in unseasoned. Green as in fresh to the game. Some people look at this term negatively, but Chance the Rapper, is making it work in his favor. At only 20 years old (soon to be 21), Chance is already taking over the rap world without the help of a record label.
When you talk to me about current rap, more than likely it will elicit a laugh. Some of the stuff that qualifies as rap nowadays is a complete joke. To be honest, it’s more of a mockery of real rap; the art that was perfected by the likes of Biggie, Tupac, Nas and other rap legends. But, Chance the Rapper is an artist that has recently made me reconsider.
Although he’s not a household name, Chance is making his way into studios and onto stages around the world. Chance has performed with the likes of Childish Gambino, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. With a resume like that, you have to wonder why he’s not signed yet, but come to find out this is a personal choice. “We’re chillin. It’s a label of us right now—just me and Pat [my manager]. Right now it’s a great system. No one’s telling us how some shit should sound, giving us a date to have the tape done by…Right now, I just love making music…making the music I want to, making funny songs or making love songs or making Trap music, or making whatever I want to make at the moment,” Chance told Hip Hop DX.
But Chance, also known as Chancelor Bennett, a kid from Chicago, eventually began to wonder what else life had to offer him. From a young age, Chance knew he wasn’t going to have a regular 9-5 he told Interview Magazine, but his inspiration came from another Chicago native, the notorious Kanye West. When College Dropout debuted in 2004 it was the first rap album Chance had ever purchased, “Kanye took me from a kid who listened to music, to a kid who lived music,” he said in an interview with Rolling Stone. From that moment he started writing more, performing more, working to perfect his art.
Chance’s first EP was sparked by his 10 day suspension from school for drug use. Appropriately enough, it was titled 10 Day. Compared to Rappers Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and the ‘old’ Kanye, Chance incorporated laid-back soul samples and ingenious word play that brought attention to his work. A year later, after some maturation, he dropped his latest EP Acid Rap which has garnered attention from multiple record labels and big name artists. Acid Rap was even nominated for “Best Mixtape of the Year,” at the BET Hip Hop Awards.
Acid Rap. It’s a thought provoking name. There’s a million different ways you can interpret his title but Chance doesn’t try to hide the inspiration for the name. “I won’t ever know what Acid Rap would have sounded like if I’d never done acid [the drug],” the artist explained to Rolling Stone. Apparently, Acid is a mixture of outside-the-box, eclectic sounds and lyrical creativity. It has a different, but desirable, vibe which is just what his generation is looking for.
I’m sure you can compare Chance to several successful people in the business now, but I don’t think that would be a fair. To compare him would be to put him in a category with others like him, but Chance is breaking the mold. He’s daring to be different and he wants the world to know. No matter how green he is to the industry, he’s a rapper with an innate musical gift that needs to be shared with the world. So sure, we can call him the new Drake, but I’d prefer to just call him Chance THE Rapper.
-Stormm Van Rooi
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