Chance the Rapper made history at the 2017 Grammys when he became the first artist to win the award—well, three awards—without selling one single physical copy of his music. The 24-year-old artist from Chicago’s South Side has gone from a notable up-and-coming musician to a bona fide superstar with his award-winning 2016 album Coloring Book, filling arenas—like the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on May 7—ever since.
While Chance could easily rest on his laurels, he’s still working, both in the studio and in his hometown. Here, we share 5 reasons why Chance is unlike any artist on the radio.
1. Rap fan or not, his tunes are music to everyone's ears.
If you are in the “I’m not a big fan of rap music” camp, Chance has you covered. In Coloring Book, he walks the line of several genres, including gospel, old-school R&B and jazz. In other projects, like The Social Experiment, he flexes his creative muscles and dips into even more styles with a tone that has evolved over the course of his three records.
2. His music is free. (Yes, free!)
Want to listen to his critically-acclaimed tunes? You can without paying a dime. (You read that right.) Chance has long been a champion of self-published and independent artists. All his songs are available online for free, as he makes his living through concert tickets and merchandise sales, like his popular “3” hats. This giveaway method led to big changes in the music world, as the Grammy Awards recently adjusted their policies to allow artists who don’t charge for music to be eligible. They might not say it, but everyone knows this change was because of Chance.
3. His concerts are legendary.
Whether it’s headlining festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits or selling out venues across the country, Chance is one of the hardest working performers in the business. With live shows being his main revenue stream, he’s constantly on the road. After wrapping up his Magnificent Coloring World Tour in late 2016, it didn’t take long for the Chicago rapper to hit the road again for his Spring Tour 2017, boasting 37 shows from April until June. With that many tour stops, it’s impressive he’s able to bring so much energy and enthusiasm to each and every show.
4. He's just getting started.
From growing up in Chicago—where he volunteered for then little-known-senator Barack Obama—to performing on stages across the globe, Chance hasn’t lost the work ethic that put him in the spotlight. Today, he's worked with 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Kirk Franklin and T-Pain on his album Coloring Book, as well as DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber and Quavo on Khaled’s new hit “I’m the One.” Despite the amount of success and acclaim he’s garnered, Chance is always moving forward, whether creating new music or taking on another great endeavor: fatherhood with his daughter, Kensli. One of the biggest reasons Chance has become such a likable star isn’t just his entertainment value, but rather…
5. His advocacy work in Chicago and beyond.
Chance has made the betterment of the Windy City a top priority. From advocating against gun violence to meeting with former President Barack Obama in the White House to discuss the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge, which encourages racial justice and engagement from civic leaders with young people of color, Chance is always striving to make his hometown better. Most recently, Chance announced a $1 million donation on behalf of the Chicago Bulls to Chicago Public Schools. Rather than just bask in fame, Chance takes every opportunity to be a voice for those who don't have one in underserved communities, setting a sterling example of what fame should look like.
Hear Chance the Rapper on Sunday, May 7 at 8 p.m. From $30. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Dr. woodlandscenter.org