With his thrilling, pugnacious mixtape, 10 Day, still making the rounds online and another project due out this November, Chance The Rapper is the latest artist to garner attention from what some are calling a Chicago hip-hop movement.
As he gears up for his first CMJ performance we caught up with the 19-year-old rapper at the popular Chicago clothing store Leaders. As the tranquil tunes of Pusha T’s Fear Of God played throughout the establishment, Chance sat down to discuss his new mixtape, Acid Rap, spending one day in college and what success means to him.
Your new project is titled Acid Rap. How did you come up with the title?
It took a little while. The concept of the tape is derived from acid-jazz, which is like electronic jazz. It has a lot more drums. It’s like Roy Ayers or Jamiroquai. It’s a faster electronic jazz mixed with hip-hop. I was playing around with those sounds, and I got back interested in ’90s hip-hop and the East Oakland jazz hip-hop movement. I was listening to a lot of Souls Of Mischief. That sound influenced the tape and the title. This time I am doing more singing, and I am working with Milo And Otis. Their sound is ridiculous.
Have other local artists been receptive to you?
I’ve gotten some shade, but I think it in part comes from how competitive everyone is about their craft. Up until this point, we didn’t really seem to get too much support from our media bases here, specifically the radio. In Atlanta, you can turn on the radio and hear an artist you have never heard before, on a major syndicated station. Just on some supporting local artist shit. Then the rapper becomes huge because other cities pull music from other places. In Chicago, we find out what’s hot other places rather then making our own artist hot and having other cities pull from us. It’s changing though. We are getting out to the masses more.
You graduated from Jones College Prep, which is a well respected selective enrollment high school in Chicago. Was college ever an option for you?
It’s amazing how much you know about me [laughs]. I went to Harold Washington. After graduation I decided midway through the summer that I wasn’t going to go to college. My parents kind of told me a week before the school year was going to start like, “Yo if you don’t go to college we are going to kick you out of the house so you should probably go to school.” I was like “for sure” and registered at Harold Washington but I registered so late that there were no general education courses. So I had all these classes that were non-transferable credits and didn’t count for anything. I was taking a course called “Reading.” It wasn’t an English credit, we just used to read, no analysis of the text or anything. I went for like a day and everyone in my class was either pregnant or thirty or both. I was just like this isn’t for me. I left and just never went back.
Last month you did an interview where you mentioned that Chicago is super segregated. Do you think that helps or harms the Chicago music scene?
Great question. It’s definitely segregated geographically. Every race has their own neighborhood. I think it’s dope for the music scene because there are so many sounds that come from that. I don’t really know if that’s a positive though, but because we are so segregated and people have their own neighborhoods you have sounds that are very specific to that area. It speaks for that neighborhood or that group of people. There is a different sound for people that come from the East-side versus the West-side or the low-end or the suburbs.
When you have artists like Chief Keef who blew up from YouTube, how relevant are festivals such as CMJ?
It’s super important. You are putting yourself in front of music lovers. Those are the people that you need as fans. A lot of videos from YouTube get passed around but that doesn’t make the people who watch the videos fans. All of them aren’t people that buy merchandise or buy albums. When you are at these festivals those are the people that actually feel something for the music. If you connect with those people they will always come back.
This is your first time performing at CMJ. What do you have planned for your show?
Absolutely nothing [laughs]. I haven’t figured it out yet. In my shows I do a lot of jumping. I don’t really do hype men. It’s usually just me and a DJ and a lot of crowd interaction.
What in your career would have to happen for you to consider yourself successful?
600 million and one dollars, one dollar more than Jay-Z. Naw, I’ve always wanted to play SNL and get a bunch of Grammy’s and perform at the Grammy’s. I want to write for some critical ass artist too. I’m a really big fan of Frank Ocean. I would love to write for him. I’d love to work with James Taylor and Peter Gabriel.
Chance the Rapper plays the Cinematic/XXL showcase at S.O.B.’s on Thursday, October 18.