Even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought life to a screeching halt, Chance The Rapper made the difficult decision to cancel his Big Day arena tour to focus on family. The rapper had just welcomed his second daughter Marli with his wife Kirsten, and he wanted to be around for the precious moments he’d missed with his older daughter Kensli.
Of course, he like the rest of us didn’t know that a global pandemic was coming to completely shift life as we know it. But in usual Chance fashion, he’s using his star power to give back in a major way during this difficult time. Tonight, the Chicago native will perform on Verizon’s Pay It Forward Live, weekly streaming entertainment series in support of small businesses affected by COVID-19. He told ESSENCE exclusively why it’s so critical to help Chicago’s small and minority-owned restaurants stay afloat.
“For Chicago’s small businesses, specifically on the south and west sides of Chicago, it’s been super tough,” Chance says. “It wasn’t like they were one hundred percent owned by the communities to begin with. The ones that were successful and integral to the community, places where people had their first date or walked to every day after school, are struggling because a lot of them aren’t on Postmates or they’re in communities that people don’t deliver to.”
In addition to the good “Pay It Forward” is doing for the community, getting the opportunity to perform again for the first time in months is a breath of fresh air for the Rhythm & Flow host. “I take the performance thing to heart, and I’m so excited about this because I haven’t performed in a long time.”
The one silver lining to the pandemic is the quality time Chance is able to spend with his wife and kids. “I’m waking up and going to sleep with my kids,” he says. “It’s materialized into all these projects. [Me and my oldest] made a terrarium today. We did a volcano the other day. We made some sea monkeys last week. My wife has been doing this butterfly project where [the kids] hatched caterpillars. Me and my wife have never gotten this amount of uninterrupted time with our kids.”
Ultimately, Chance says he’s been humbled by the pandemic and this way its shifted his way of life. “I think this has given me understanding that God is in control of all things,” he says, “No matter how much we plan or think we know what is going to happen at any moment, things can be turned upside down.”
Catch Chance The Rapper’s performance live at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on Twitter (@Verizon,) Yahoo, Verizon’s Facebook and YouTube pages, and Fios channels 501 and 604. The event will also be available on Verizon’s platforms for one week following the live stream.