In Chancelor Bennett's case, you could argue that weed -- yes, perhaps a gateway to more drugs, as we do know the rapper has a fondness for LSD -- was also a sort of gateway to another life. After getting caught with marijuana during his senior year of high school in 2011, he was suspended for ten days. And there, Chance the Rapper, an idea that was already brewing in the young emcee's head, was born. During that moratorium from school, Chance recorded his first mixtape, 10 Day. A year later, in 2012, he dropped the tape to favorable reviews.
Chance released his second tape, Acid Rap, in 2013, which was met even more favorably. With guest appearances from rappers including Twista, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul and Childish Gambino, Chance proved his ability to work with a diverse group of musicians -- that he has an adaptable sound. But after doing a slew of features and a major guest appearance on Childish Gambino's Because the Internet, we didn't hear much from the Chicago-bred rapper.
This past spring, Chance began dropping songs on SoundCloud under a new project called Sox -- clearly an homage to the Chicago's other famed team -- produced by himself and his band the Social Experiment. In late July, he released a gorgeous cover of the Arthur theme song, "Every Day," also with the Social Experiment. His cover pulled at everyone's heartstrings, taking us back to more innocent times when our only worries were who had cooties and who had the best lunch snack. His rendition of "Every Day" is a completely developed piece in its own right, inspirational and aspirational, full of musical peaks and valleys. More than that, "Wonderful Everyday: Arthur" is the clear moment when Chance shows his listeners that, while his musical intentions haven't changed, they have undergone a slight transformation -- a shift to experimentation. (His band is called the Social Experiment, after all.)
In anticipation of his upcoming show this Saturday at Chaifetz Arena with the Verge Campus Tour -- a national collegiate lifestyle music festival that occurs semi-annually on college campuses across the U.S. -- RFT Music spoke to the young rapper about his growth as an artist and the latest trends in Chicago's music scene.
Tara Mahadevan: I saw you perform last year at the Pageant and you were...I think juking, right?
Chance the Rapper: True, yeah I was totally juking.
So juking's a Chicago thing?
Yeah, juking is like a big music movement in Chicago, technically from the late '90s, early 2000s. The dance that we do, we footwork, it's not always called the same thing, but I grew up on it. Juking's not the biggest music movement now. It's kind of taken off, kind of merging with jungle -- it's really big in Europe now, but it was the shit back when I was growing up. I liked it and incorporated it into my music.
You're pretty Chicago-centric then.
Yeah, Chicago's a big part of my music. I wasn't the type of kid who moved around a lot when I was young. I took a couple trips to the South with my parents when I was growing up, but I didn't really travel a lot -- I like to think that I'm very much Chicago, maybe more so than the next person.
What do you think about the rap that's coming out of Chicago now?
I'm a big fan of damn near all the music coming out of Chicago. Chicago has a very tight-knit scene. Most of everybody is friends, and I do make music with them a lot, but my style of music, or my style of viewing it, is I wanna make music for music. I make music to have fun. I don't make music to release it.
From an artist's perspective, when you create something, when you make something new, it should be respected because it's something new. I like all the music that's coming out of Chicago now, there's a lot of different sounds. A lot of the new artists like Mick Jenkins, Saba, Lucki Eck$ -- there's a lot of people coming out that are actually making big waves, playing at all the festivals in Chicago.
You know about boppin'? Bop music? Basically that's the new big shit in Chicago. I can't even describe it, but it's like the new dance movement. The biggest hits in Chicago and Chicago radio is boppin'. The drill thing is kind of passed up. There's people that make all different styles of music, and a lot of people that collaborate and make different sounds and stuff, but I don't think the city has one sound right now. I think it's kind of the same way it's been for the past few years -- there's a lot of different people that come out with different styles, especially in rap.
Continue to page two for more.
What have you been working on lately?
I've been working with a band called the Social Experiment. We're kind of a band/production writing collective, and we've been doing a lot of production and writing for a lot of artists -- that's mainly what I've been focusing on. I'm making a lot of my own music too, but I'm not really worried about formal releases right now. This is like more of a center stage for performing and creating, but being able to create like that is more important than trying to drop a new track.
Who is the Social Experiment, and what else have you and the band worked on?
[The Social Experiment is] Nico Segal, Nate Fox, Peter CottonTale, Greg Landfair Jr. and Jeff Gitty. It's all the people that have been in my band for the last two tours I've been on. Those are the same producers that made all Acid Rap; now it's more of a conglomerate thing and less of a focus on just making beats, and more so on compositions and formal, full-fledged pieces -- little projects, like "Arthur."
Yeah, that was a great rendition of the theme song. Can you talk more about that?
"Arthur" is a track that took like about three months to make. It was really an idea for a concert because I liked that song, I don't know, just for tour. There's people that have never heard songs because they aren't necessarily released. I'm trying to switch it up a lot. Just try out another jam, but the concert was something in itself that's really separate from the [Sox] project.
I wanted to plan the show, and that was part of the experiment, trying to play a song that people knew but didn't know where they heard it before that. And so we just put a lot of production into it and had a lot of live instrument sessions. I met a lot of cool people during the time I was making it, and every time I'd have a session with somebody great, they'd do a little something for it and add a feature, and that's how I ended up getting this big thing.
How do you think you've grown as an artist, and where do you think you're headed?
I think I've gotten more mature, learning a lot about music. Being around different styles, being out of it, and just trying to stretch myself, experiment.
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