To commemorate Chance the Rapper‘s 10-year anniversary of Acid Rap, Sam Sanders of the Into It podcast sat Chance down to talk about how Hip-Hop has strayed away from its “joyous” feeling, asking the question “what happened to Hip-Hop in the years since Acid Rap made it all seem so fun?”
Reflecting back on his life at the time of Acid Rap, Chance said “I didn’t have money but I also didn’t have kids, so it didn’t really matter that I didn’t have money and um, I was living at my parents house and just trying to make this dream work.” He continued, “this is my second mixtape under the moniker ‘Chance the Rapper’ and I had dropped a mixtape the year before this called 10 Day that was all about me getting suspended from high school.”
And it was that suspension-inspired project that landed him on a national tour with Donald Glover as an opener. “Nobody in the crowd knew who I was… But I was there and I made sure my presence was known,” he said.
Little did he know, while no one knew who he was while on tour, it was ultimately preparing him for his own career. “I was always trying to spread this music that I was making and I think the preparation of that tour put me in the right mind state as a performer and as a showman to like really try and push to make this mixtape heard,” he shared.
He revealed that “Acid Rain” is his favorite song from the project. “It’s the most pure to me” he said. “It’s a long single verse song with no hook that’s just me rapping very transparently talking about issues that I had with drugs and some of my closest friends… Like it was a lot of like stuff that I would not normally talk about so plainly in my music.”
Sam brought up the point that when you compare the sounds of Chance’s Acid Rap and Coloring Book to his male colleagues today, and then you compare that music to what women in Hip-Hop are making today, the men aren’t happy — they’re making sad music. Chance heard the revelation and immediately let out an “mmm,” before saying “that’s deep yo, why would all these men be sad? I don’t think they’re happy.”
As the conversation continued, Chance realized “what a lot of us experience is melancholy, is sad, is displacement, it is poor relationships, it is poverty, it is a tax on your humanity or your masculinity or you know, its a lot,” he continued. “I was lucky to make it off being different but a lot of people make it off of just a different angle of the same s***, so I feel for n****s. I feel bad, I feel sad.”
But why is Hip-Hop not as happy as it was 10 years ago? Chance says “I think s***s just worst… Like in all forms of it, in terms of public safety you know even the weather like the world, the earth is just not as lit as it was in 2013”
With that in mind, Sam wondered, well what is it about Black women in Hip-Hop and why isn’t their music so sad? To which Chance explained that they too, are also rapping about their trauma, it just sounds different and is more upbeat. “Because if I’m being honest the women at the top of Hip-Hop aren’t talking about capitalism and how that affects our blackness or deconstructing it,” he said.
“To me Hip-Hop is a tool for Black upwards mobility and a way to like collectivize and we don’t have all the necessary power,” Chance said.
Touching on how he was heavily inspired by Kanye West‘s music, he said “since 04 I’ve been extremely influenced by Ye’s music and his art,” revealing that the intro on Acid Rap was sampled from an intro to a Kanye West mixtape that came out when Chance was in high school.
When Chance received Ye’s The College Dropout in the fifth grade, he knew he wanted to rap. “It was when I was in fifth grade and I heard ‘Through the Wire’ and ‘All Falls Down’ the same night on the radio…And it just changed my whole perspective on like who I was and what I was supposed to be doing and I started writing raps,” he shared.
Calling himself a “student of Kanye” he said “the main thing that I’ve always learned from Kanye and loved from Kanye is that he is fearless, man, and being fearless always come with consequences.”
As someone who used to be very vocal about his political beliefs, Chance said “I don’t believe in that s*** anymore,” when Sam asked why he no longer speaks out about politics the way he used to. “I think I’m recognizing how this system works… Black folks natural destiny in the near future is to collectivize. Not even just from a national prospective but a international lens, and create a more homogenous body. We attach so many other categories to our identity that kind of keep us splintered. And I think the only time we’re allowed to be the Black people is when we’re the Black vote,” he said.
“I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from voting,” he added “I’m very focused on politics, I’m just focused on it from a different space.”
He says, “there’s a great sense of responsibility” he feels when it comes to politics. “My dad worked in politics… but also my grandmother got the first Black mayor of Chicago elected through volunteer work which is what got my dad into politics. My grandmother was also a staunch supporter of Kwame Ture or Stokely Carmichael and was a very militant Black woman you know what I’m saying? Was a 19 or 20-year-old with like four kids and not a lot of money, was spending her time volunteering to work for the advancement of Black people.”
“When I think about politics anytime I get a question about it, first thing that happens is my brain fills up with all the things that I’m mad about and then the second thing that happens is I start to think about how I could be misquoted or misunderstood and then I try and speak on it with both parts of my brain working at the same time and it comes off as guarded,” he said after Sam suggested his answers regarding politics seemed “guarded.”
Check out the full thought-provoking conversation between the two as they critique Hip-Hop as a whole for not having the conversations about it’s promotion of violence, sexism, striving for mass wealth and homophobia. Listen above or anytime on the free Audacy app.