Chancelor Bennett (born April 16, 1993), better known by his stage name Chance the Rapper, is an American rapper from the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, he began to gain major recognition following the release of his second mixtape Acid Rap. Chance is also a member of the Chicago collective SAVEMONEY with frequent collaborator Vic Mensa and lead vocalist for the band The Social Experiment.
Life and career
1993–2010: Early life
Chance grew up the older of two brothers in the middle-class neighborhood of West Chatham, an oasis in Chicago's otherwise rough South Side. His father, Ken Williams-Bennett, was a prominent presence in the city: He first served as an aide to former Chicago mayor Harold Washington and then worked for Barack Obama, who was a senator at the time. Williams-Bennett, who is now a regional representative to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, dreamed that his son might one day hold office. But Chance was always more interested in the arts, performing in talent shows from his pre-school days through high school at Chicago's esteemed Jones College Prep. Chance showed interests in music at a young age, and in his freshman year of high school at Chicago's Jones College Prep High School, formed the hip-hop duo Instrumentality with Justin, a friend. He mentioned in an interview that fellow Chicago native Kanye West's 2004 debut album The College Dropout was the first hip-hop album that he ever purchased and listened to, previously being into soul and jazz.
2011–12: Career beginnings and #10Day
At Jones College Prep High School, some of his teachers ridiculed his aspirations to become a musician. Following a 10-day suspension in early 2011 during his senior year for marijuana related activities, Bennett recorded his first full-length project, a mixtape titled #10Day. In December 2011, he released a song titled "Windows", and publicly announced his #10Day project. After the song's release, in February 2012, Bennett was highlighted as one of Complex magazine's "10 New Chicago Rappers to Watch Out For." Bennett says he spent about eight months recording, writing and making connections off of the hunger to put out something. After about a year's time of working on the tape, Bennett released it on April 3, 2012 and it has since been downloaded over 300,000 times via Datpiff. The mixtape was well received locally and would help Bennett make connections with producers such as Chuck Inglish, Kenny Jame$ and Blended Babies. The mixtape would also grab the attention of Forbes magazine, which featured it in the publication's Cheap Tunes column. Prior to writing and recording #10Day, Chance The Rapper recorded the mixtape "Good Enough" and "The Back to School Pack EP" respectively.
In July 2012, Bennett appeared on American rapper Childish Gambino's sixth mixtape Royalty, on the track "They Don't Like Me". Gambino would then ask Bennett to join his 2012 concert tour of North America, as his opening act.
2013–present: Acid Rap and major recognition
Chance released his second mixtape Acid Rap, on April 30, 2013. On DatPiff it has been certified diamond after being downloaded over 1,000,000 times. The mixtape features guest appearances from Twista, Vic Mensa, BJ the Chicago Kid, Action Bronson, Childish Gambino and Ab-Soul. Acid Rap was strongly praised by music critics and fans alike. At Metacritic, the mixtape received an average score of 86, based on 21 critics, which indicates "universal acclaim." It was also nominated for Best Mixtape at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards.
On May 6, 2013, after previously being featured as the hidden track on Acid Rap, a song titled "Paranoia", produced by Nosaj Thing, was released as a contribution to Yours Truly and Adidas originals "Songs from Scratch" series. In June 2013, Bennett was featured in a commercial for MySpace as part of their relaunch, alongside fellow American rappers Mac Miller, Pharrell and Schoolboy Q, among others. In early July 2013, Acid Rap debuted at number 63 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums due to bootleg downloads on iTunes and Amazon. In August 2013, Bennett performed at the Chicago music festival Lollapalooza.
Acid Rap was listed on multiple 50 best albums of 2013 lists, including 26th for Rolling Stone, 12th on Pitchfork's list, and ranked 4th by Complex. It was also listed as one of NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2013.
Chance embarked on his Social Experiment Tour, in Champaign, Illinois on October 25, 2013, lasting until December 19, 2013. He was also a featured artist on a track on Childish Gambino's album Because the Internet, which was released on December 6, 2013.
In March 2014, Bennett appeared in a shoppable online video for Dockers, promoting the brand's spring line, in which Bennett talks his style, love for creating music, and how it feels to live in Los Angeles. On May 5, 2014, XXL revealed Bennett was included in their annual freshman class, alongside fellow up-and-comers Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan, Vic Mensa, August Alsina, Troy Ave, Kevin Gates, Lil Bibby, Jon Connor, Lil Durk and Jarren Benton. During Fall 2014, Bennett and other artists participated in Verge Campus tour. In November 2014, Bennett was presented Chicago's "Outstanding Youth of the Year Award" by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
In January 2015, Bennett was listed #7 on the "Forbes 30 Under 30" 2015 music list. In March 2015, Bennett released a short film called Mr. Happy directed by Colin Tilley. Mr. Happy centers around the main character, Victor, who is struggling with depression and attempting to commit suicide. After many failed attempts to kill himself, he discovers Mr. Happy. On April 30, 2015, Bennett gave a lecture at Harvard University's Hiphop Archive & Research Institute.
Just before midnight on May 28, 2015, Surf was released for free on the American iTunes store as an iTunes Exclusive. The album received rave reviews from music critics, earning an aggregate score of 88/100, on the review aggregator site Metacritic.
On July 19, 2015, Chance the Rapper and Lil B announced that they recorded a collaborative album.
Chancellor has stated in interviews with XXL & Complex that Kanye West, James Brown, MC Hammer, Prince, Lupe Fiasco, Common, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Souls of Mischief and Freestyle Fellowship, have influenced him as well. He also has stated that one of his favorites is Kirk Franklin.
Bennett is known for his highly syncopated and complex flow patterns, his fusing of rapped and sung vocals, and his accomplished lyricism that tackles personal growth, highly symbolic storytelling and political and social criticism as well as frequently referencing recreational drugs like LSD and marijuana. Instrumentally, his music is influenced by hip hop, acid jazz, soul, and blues .
In July 2015, Chance announced that he was expecting his first child with his girlfriend, whom he began dating in 2013.