If Kendrick Lamar is the soul-searching life guide engaging in and encouraging a new spiritual movement, then Chance the Rapper (Chancelor Bennet) is the upbeat, giddily-devotional choir director poised to lead the congregation in song. As another artist who also executes prolific and outstanding performances (please, see here and be blessed), has garnered critical acclaim – he won this year’s grammy for best rap album – and is steadily rising, Chance the Rapper has the ability to reach and impact millions of people. For many of his fans, it is his adaptive ability when collaborating with several different artists like Kanye, Justin Beiber, Francis and the Lights and even Action Bronson, as well as his ability to transverse genres while still retaining his distinctive form, which has led to his advanced expansion.
In many of Chance’s songs and his collaborations, there is an easily identifiable, distinctively gospelesque uplifting quality. Joshua Lazard, also known as The Uppity Negro, identifies and analyses this explicitly spiritual nature in his article, “Hip Hop’s Soundtrack for the Spiritual but not Religious”; arguing that Change is able to channel the “secular” and “spiritual” in a way that allows for more than just stuffy Sunday salvation or Saturday night debauchery. Many of Chance’s songs bounce between the seemingly estranged themes of sanctity and indulgent, relatable entertainment. His upbeat tempos, color schemes, and childish colloquialisms are evidenced by the cover for his album Colouring Book, and seen in the songs “No Problems”, the quintessential ‘don’t f*ck with me’ rapper ballad, and “Summer Friends”, a track which reminisces about childhood. However, paired with and mixed among this upbeat youthfulness is a weighty maturity evident in his frequent use of traditional “three-part harmony” and through his songs “Blessings” and “Angels”, both embedded with gospel themes and references. Lazard argues that Chance’s lyrics are able to “give some type of fulfillment, be it cultural or spiritual”. Through this combination of the cultural and spiritual, Chance is able to not only entertain his fans but also frame their shared experiences in a way that uplifts and gives hope.
Joshua Lazard (The Uppity Negro) – Hip Hop’s Soundtrack: https://uppitynegronetwork.com/2016/05/31/hip-hops-soundtrack-for-the-spiritual-but-not-religious/
Colouring Book Track List and Lyrics: https://genius.com/albums/Chance-the-rapper/Coloring-book