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10 Things To Know About Chance The Rapper Before He Storms The Grammys

By Tanveer Ali | February 8, 2017 12:53pm | Updated on February 12, 2017 9:55am
 Chance the Rapper performed at Mayor Emanuel's Teens in the Park 2015 Fest.
Chance the Rapper performed at Mayor Emanuel's Teens in the Park 2015 Fest.
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Teens in the Park (file)

CHICAGO — Chicago's own Chance The Rapper is nominated for seven Grammys this year, including the coveted Best New Artist and Best Rap Album awards. 

He's also set to perform at the Grammys, which air at 7 p.m. on CBS.

In the last few years the rapper, born and raised around 79th Street in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood, has become one of the biggest names in rap music worldwide.

Here's a primer of how he got to the point where he is performing on the Grammys and what he exactly means to the city of Chicago.

1. Chance became a rapper during a school suspension: In 2011, Chancelor Bennett was a senior at Downtown Chicago's Jones College Prep High School when he had to serve a 10-day suspension for being caught with weed. During that suspension, he wrote what would become the "10 Day" mixtape, released the following year under the name Chance The Rapper.

2. Chance and Kanye West have a special bond: West is Chance's "big brother," according to the younger rapper. But Chance never signed on with West when he asked him to join his label G.O.O.D. Music. "It's not easy at all, definitely not telling Kanye," Chance told ABC News. "It's definitely hard keeping that resistance, but I want to teach people that it's doable without."

Both Chicago-raised rappers played a big role in each other's albums last year. West guest-starred on and produced "All We Got," the first track on "Coloring Book." Chance has a starring role in "Ultralight Beam" the first song on West's "The Life Of Pablo" and also has a writer credit on "Famous."

The two have long talked about working on an album together, tentatively titled "Good Ass Job."

3. Chance changed the rules of the Grammys: Chance The Rapper has never released a traditional physical album, which according to Grammy rules until last year, was a requirement to be nominated. But in 2016, he launched a public effort to change the rules allowing streaming-only albums like "Coloring Book" to be nominated for music's biggest prize. The rules changed last year, and Chance The Rapper found himself with seven nominations. Here's what he's nominated for:

  • Best New Artist
  • Best Rap Performance, "No Problem"
  • Best Rap/Sung Performance, "Ultralight Beam" (with Kanye West)
  • Best Rap Album, "Coloring Book"
  • Best Rap Song, "Famous" (with Kanye West)
  • Best Rap Song, "Ultralight Beam" (with Kanye West)
  • Best Rap Song, "No Problem"

4. Chance has some political connections: Chancelor Bennett is the son of Ken Bennett, a former aide to then-President Barack Obama and currently a deputy chief of staff to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Chance isn't a fan of Chicago's mayor, though, and has been especially critical of Emanuel since the release of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video in 2015. "We need a new mayor, for sure. That would be awesome," the rapper told Complex magazine in May 2016.

Chance visited the White House often during Barack Obama's second term, including for a meeting on the My Brother's Keeper initiative and the White House Christmas tree lighting. Chance told GQ he knew that the Obamas listen to his music.

Chance also performed in a "Saturday Night Live" Christmas video titled "Jingle Barack." After Obama left the White House, Chance launched his "Thank You Obama" clothing line.


5. The big "3" on Chance's hat commemorates his third mixtape "Coloring Book": He sells the New Era caps on his website for $45.

6. Chance has a big civic presence in Chicago: After the 2013 release of his second mixtape "Acid Rap," Chance moved to Los Angeles before deciding to come back to Chicago. The local and global celebrity has hosted open mic nights open only to Chicago's high schoolers and curated a city-sponsored teen festival.

7. Chance is a huge White Sox fan: Ahead of the 2016 baseball season, Chance was named the brand ambassador for the Chicago White Sox. The South Side native narrated an intro video for the team and helped design three special ball caps for the team. In August 2016, Chance sold out more than 40,000 tickets at what's now Guaranteed Rate Field for his Magnificent Coloring Day festival.


8. Chance once was allowed to film a music video on top of a moving Chicago "L" train: The video for "Angels," off of "Coloring Book" was a love letter to Chicago and featured the rapper on top of a moving train in Chicago's Loop. Chicago magazine confirmed those scenes were actually filmed on top of a moving train

9. Chance loves working with his buddies: The rapper is a member of The Social Experiment, a group of collaborators who released the album "Surf" in 2015 exclusively on iTunes. Arguably the most famous track on that album is "Sunday Candy," about how much Chance loves his grandmother.

10. Chance was illustrated by the same artist on all three of his mixtape covers: Chicago artist Brandon Breaux designed the covers for "10 Day," "Acid Rap" and "Coloring Book." "Coloring Book" captures the rapper looking down at his daughter, born in 2015.