Chance The Rapper Reflects on the Evolution of Hip-Hop, Politics, and Artistry Since His ‘Acid Rap’ Debut

by Barbara

In a candid conversation marking the 10-year milestone of Chance the Rapper’s iconic “Acid Rap” album, Sam Sanders from the Into It podcast engaged Chance in a discussion about the evolving landscape of Hip-Hop, its changing emotional undercurrents, and the shifting dynamics within the genre. The dialogue delved into the intriguing question: “What has transpired in the realm of Hip-Hop since the joyful vibes of ‘Acid Rap’ graced our ears?”

A Glimpse Back in Time

Reminiscing about the era of “Acid Rap,” Chance vividly recalled his life circumstances at the time. He shared, “I was broke, but I was also childless. So, the lack of money didn’t really bother me. I was living with my parents, just striving to make my dreams a reality.” This phase marked his second mixtape under the alias “Chance the Rapper,” following his earlier project, “10 Day,” which narrated his high school suspension.

It was the latter mixtape that provided the catalyst for his emergence onto the national stage, joining Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino) on tour as an opening act. Although anonymity veiled him in those early performances, they were pivotal in honing his stage presence and preparing him for the journey ahead. Chance emphasized, “Nobody knew me in the crowd, but I ensured my presence was felt.”

Unbeknownst to him, this period of relative obscurity served as a stepping stone to his own artistic career. “Those tours equipped me with the mindset of a performer and a showman, urging me to push my music into the limelight,” he reflected.

Highlighting his personal favorite from “Acid Rap,” Chance expressed a special attachment to “Acid Rain.” He noted, “It encapsulates purity for me. It’s a lengthy, single-verse track devoid of a chorus, where I bare my soul transparently, addressing my struggles with drugs and the complexities of my close friendships. It delves into matters I wouldn’t typically discuss so candidly in my music.”

Unraveling the Change in Hip-Hop’s Emotional Cadence

Sanders astutely observed the shift in Hip-Hop’s emotional tone from the exuberance of “Acid Rap” and “Coloring Book” to a more somber expression by male artists today. This contrast is particularly pronounced when juxtaposed with the upbeat creations emerging from female artists in the Hip-Hop landscape.

Chance absorbed this observation and shared a poignant insight: “It’s profound. Why is it that so many male artists seem to be navigating sadness? I believe it’s because the circumstances have deteriorated.” He further mused, “In multiple facets – be it public safety, climatic changes, or the overall state of the world – the vitality that infused 2013 is lacking today.”

Intriguingly, Chance’s conversation with Sanders ventured into the realm of Black women in Hip-Hop. Sanders probed into the reason behind the comparative optimism in their music. Chance responded, underscoring that the themes of trauma are not absent from their narratives; rather, they are conveyed with a distinct upbeat energy. “The Black women at the helm of Hip-Hop are addressing their own traumas, but they channel it differently. They’re not necessarily dissecting capitalism’s impact on Black identity in the same manner,” he explained.

In Chance’s view, Hip-Hop functions as a tool for Black upward mobility and collective empowerment. However, he highlighted the limitations placed on the community’s collective voice, asserting, “We lack the full scope of influence needed for our impact to be maximized.”

Kanye West’s Artistic Impact

Reflecting on the role of Kanye West in his musical journey, Chance traced his deep-seated inspiration back to 2004. He recalled his transformative encounter with West’s music during his formative years, particularly “Through the Wire” and “All Falls Down.” These tracks ignited his passion for rap and songwriting, propelling him to begin crafting his own verses.

Identifying himself as a “student of Kanye,” Chance commended West’s fearlessness as an artist. “Kanye epitomizes fearlessness. This courage, however, comes with repercussions,” Chance mused. He also acknowledged that Kanye’s music and artistry played an influential role in shaping his own creative path.

Political Transition and Responsibility

The discourse extended to Chance’s political involvement, with Sam Sanders questioning the shift in Chance’s political engagement. Chance revealed a shift in perspective, asserting, “I’ve changed my stance on this.” He expressed his evolving understanding of the political system, emphasizing the importance of unity and collective strength among the Black community.

“I envision a future where Black individuals collectively unify and transcend geographical boundaries, forming a harmonious identity. To achieve this, we need to detach from divisive categories and recognize our collective power,” Chance passionately stated.

Acknowledging his familial ties to politics, Chance discussed the significance of politics in his family. He shared anecdotes about his father’s involvement in politics and his grandmother’s dedication to advancing the interests of the Black community.

Intriguingly, Chance touched upon the intricacies of discussing politics, acknowledging the challenge of articulating his thoughts on the subject. He emphasized his responsibility as a public figure to address political issues thoughtfully and effectively, ensuring his message isn’t misconstrued.

A Deep Dive into Hip-Hop’s Complexity

In a thought-provoking conversation, Chance the Rapper and Sam Sanders critically examined Hip-Hop’s evolution, the shifting emotional undercurrents, and the intersection of art, politics, and societal change. As Chance looks back on his transformative journey, he offers a unique perspective on the multifaceted nature of Hip-Hop, its power to influence change, and the profound responsibilities that come with wielding artistic and cultural influence.

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