Chance the Rapper's focus on positivity and musical theatre to arrive on Sunday at Voodoo Music and Arts Experience.
Chance the Rapper (Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Altar) is on to something. While many artists gripe and moan about low payouts from Spotify and other online platforms, Chancelor Bennett has been quietly releasing his music for free. His attention is elsewhere.
As an independent artist, Chance is deeply involved in the creation, production, and distribution of his music. His creative control has yielded a diverse collection of music that is often defined by positivity, including his latest release, “Angels.” Choir voices and steel drums composed by the Social Experiment and Lido create an upbeat texture for Chance to work in, as he raps about cleaning up his city “so my daughter can have somewhere to play,” his distribution practices (“I even have Steve giving away apples for free”) and protecting the “young angels on the southside.”
It’s an attitude that extends to his involvement in the local community. He promoted an anti-violence campaign in Chicago this summer, in addition to the open mic events and the other youth events he is consistently involved in. He sees Chicago as a “city in development,” rather than one in a "rut."
The energy dedicated to his social work does not detract from his live shows. At Buku two years ago, he demonstrated a careful balance between improvisation and finely tuned execution. Now he has evolved to incorporate theatre into his engaging performance, citing The Lion King musical as an inspiration for many of his props and set pieces. The musical theatre he strives to create is evident in the music video for “Sunday Candy,” and in the recent "Angels" performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as well. Chance’s acting chops are also apparent in the Vice short film, “Mr. Happy,” where he plays a suicidal young man who hires a hitman to kill himself.
Chance the Rapper’s name is misleading. At only 22 years old, he has already accomplished several musical triumphs, become a positive and influential member of his community, and made a foray into acting. With more new music on the way and what looks to be a killer set at Voodoo, Chance is full of promise.