I discovered Chi-Town native Chance The Rapper last summer on a dance choreography video by my favourite choreographer, Ian Eastwood. I didn't know much about Chance at this point, except that he was the "allsheneededwassome" guy on the Childish Gambino track The Worst Guys, but after watching Ian's choreo to Good Ass Intro (the first track on his mixtape, Acid Rap) I was hooked, and to say I’ve become somewhat of a disciple of Chance is an understatement.
Hailing from Catham in Chicago Illinois, Chancelor Bennet first rose to prominence by performing at open mic nights hosted by YOUMedia, a city-funded youth center in Chance’s area that aimed to take kids off the streets and teach them how to, essentially, become creators. He speaks on the organisation with deep appreciation discussing how "the majority of the dope, young artists that are in Chicago came out of that bitch. I came out of there, Vic Mensa, Nico (Donnie Trumpet) from Kids These Days" and expressing how through YOUMedia he was able to challenge his creativity and harness it, along with people from similar backgrounds, with similar aspirations.
Chance perked ears with his release of his mixtape 10 Day which he wrote and recorded during a ten day suspension from high school. His sound was unique, and his vision was beyond his years. But it was mostly due to his second mix, Acid Rap, that Chance was recognised as major new talent. The mixtape has opened a lot of doors for Chance and allowed him to meet and work with a variety of big names in music, but despite these collaborations, and touring aggressively since the mixtapes release, Chance hasn't quite followed suit of a rapper on the come up. I read an article in Fader magazine recently titled 'Why Chance the Rapper Is Foregoing Solo Fame To Make Jazzy Songs With His Friends.' It discusses how Chance has the opportunity to promote himself and make it big, but instead, ops to create art with his friends and to help other artists in Chicago to find their beat.
Chance has started hosting his own Open Mic nights in Chicago (Labeling them ‘Open Mike’ nights, in honor of his fallen mentor Brother Mike) allowing young Chicago talents to come and showcase their art and make a name for themselves. Through this venture and by becoming an integral part of the Chi-Town community, Chance has helped bring attention to a lot of young artists trying to make an impact on the music scene. Using his new platform as a critically acclaimed artist, he's been able to promote other Chicago based creatives trying to make it...and some of them are really, really good. So I've put a little list of some of them for you to listen to!
This artist is going to blow. Kehlani released her debut mixtape Cloud 19 in 2014 and her latest You Should Be Here just last month. Already developing a large community of online followers and local fans in Chicago, Kehlani's music is spreading a rapid rate. Her sound brings back the Pop RnB vibes we were hearing at the start of the millennium from the likes of Jo Jo, whilst maintaining spiritual themes and melodic rap that has been brought to the forefront by Jhené Aiko. It's rare for a young RnB artist to be able to present such a wise, experienced and full body of work. Definitely check out Kehlani's soundcloud for more music as her sound is really diverse.
Another Save Money member along with the likes of Chance, Nico and Vic, Towkio was given the heavy task of following in the footsteps of his squad members and after releasing his mixtape ‘Wav.Theory’ last month, it seems he’s succeeded. Towkio’s sound is rich with positive mantras, with the aim to ‘free the mind’.
Eryn Allen Kane
Currently residing in Chicago but originally from Detroit, Michigan, Eryn Allen Kane takes influence from the soulful sounds of Arethla Franklin and others of that era. Kane has only released one official single, the powerful ‘Have Mercy’, with the rest of her solo releases being mainly covers. She has, however, contributed to Towkio, Chance The Rapper, Donnie Trumpet and most notably Prince’s latest projects, and has been labeled by Chance as “The first lady of the Social Experiment”
Another Chicago Native, Fatimah Warner was, like Chance, a frequent YOUMedia Open Mic performer, mostly expressing her artistry through spoken word poetry, and later, rap. Noname and Chance befriended each other and not long later, she was featured on ‘Lost’, a track from Acid Rap that quickly became a favourite of mine and many other Chance fans.
Meanwhile, Chance's latest project, which he's worked on with the collective he calls The Social Experiment, is titled Surf and is due for release any time now. Here is a little preview with the latest release from The Social Experiment.