Chance The Rapper Talks Political Activism and Almost Signing with a Major Label

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch
The Chicago nattive discusses what it means to stay true to himself while making good music. 

In an hour-long discussion with Bakari Kitwana at the University of Chicago, Chance the Rapper talked religion, political activism, and how his dad stopped him from signing with a major label.

Chance recalled a trip to NYC in 2012 to sign a record deal with Sony. "I had a label meeting with this woman who I really respect and don’t want to paint her as a bad person at all. A woman named Sylvia Rhone, who’s at Sony Music. That was the one deal I was going to take," he said, "I don’t really talk about it enough, but there is this deal that I was going to take in 2012 after my first mixtape, 10 Day." 

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Chance said that at the time he was being pursued by a number of labels and was flown to New York to meet with Sony. However, the rapper's dad convinced not to rush into anything. "They were talking about printing up contracts, then and my dad called me and was like, 'Son, I know you’re in New York and you’re doing something really important, but remember: don’t sign anything,' And I was like, 'Damn, is he in this b---h?' And moral of the story, I didn’t sign that s--t." The rapper compared being in the label's office to a scene in Cheetah Girls, "In real life, n----s really do go to label meetings and start rapping in a room full of people in suits to prove that they need that deal. And it’s an ugly thing to think about."

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Chance also talked activism and how music affects it, saying "I like to attack my music as just myself. I don't try to tell too many narratives about other people. I'd like to think my music is me and I think I'm as vocal as I'm supposed to be at times and as physical as I'm supposed to be at times," he said, "As time goes on there's more mediums to show what the world is, that's what art is. It's an example of living."

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