Chance The Rapper: a name that is now forever cemented in music history. The hip hop trailblazer (born Chancellor Johnathan Bennett) is–as of last night–the first ever musical artist to win a Grammy (well, three to be exact!) as an unsigned artist who exclusively releases music online for free without selling physical copies.
Why avoid the traditional route of most recording artists? …and likely give up significant payouts by doing so? In an interview with Vanity Fair Chance had this to say about his unorthodox approach:
“I never wanted to sell my music because I thought putting a price on it put a limit on it and inhibited me from making a connection.”
Later in the interview he elaborated further:
“After I made my second mixtape and gave it away online, my plan was to sign with a label and figure out my music from there. But after meeting with the three major labels, I realized my strength was being able to offer my best work to people without any limit on it. My first two projects are on places where you can get music for free. With Coloring Book, Apple had it on their streaming service exclusively for two weeks for free—and then it was available on all the places my earlier work is still available on. I make money from touring and selling merchandise, and I honestly believe if you put effort into something and you execute properly, you don’t necessarily have to go through the traditional ways.”
…it’s clear Chance is an artist that values his freedom to make exactly the kind of music he wants to make, and to subsequently make his art accessible to all who want to hear it. Hard to argue that his approach is anything less than commendable, and this ethic–coupled with his immense talent and his joyful, eminently listenable mixtapes–has cemented him as one of the most successful and beloved independent artists ever. Chance fans who have seen him in concert or caught one of his several TV appearances know he also brings that same joy and exuberance into his live performances in a major way. Chance is a treat to experience on stage and he sells out most everywhere he goes.
All this accomplished and he’s only 23! The future certainly looks bright for this young Chicagoan, and those of us attending Eaux Claires this coming summer will be lucky to catch him in the midst of his trajectory into outer-space.
For more on Chance’s background click here or here!
***Featured image by Scotify, snapped at last year’s Eaux Claires***