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10 Reasons Chance the Rapper is More Than Just a Rapper

The Chicago born MC cares just as much about his community and ending the violence in his hometown as he does the music he gifts for free to his fans. Here are things you shoud know about the artist.
Things to Know About Chicago’s Chance the Rapper
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On his second mixtape, Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper said he was better than he was the last time–and since then the Chicago-born rapper has only just begun to shine. Don’t just think that all his talents live within the booth. The 23-year-old rapper born Chancelor Bennett is just as nice on the mic as he is off and his work in the community helps to prove it. Here are 10 things you need to know about the rapper. He was born on the Southside of Chicago.  His father, Ken Williams-Bennett always wanted his son to grow up and go into politics. Like father like son, Ken once worked as a as an aide to the city’s former mayor Harold Washington. He now serves as the deputy chief of staff for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.   He witnessed his friend die. In 2011, Chance’s close friend Rodney Kyles Jr. was stabbed to death at the hands of Chicago’s notorious violence. The event was a pivotal point in the young rapper’s life and forced him to focus on taking his talent seriously. On his song, “Acid Rain,” a song the President happens to like, the rapper remembers his friend and his final moments. Chance the Rapper Freestyles Over Monica’s ‘So Gone’ He’s on a first name basis with President Obama.  That’s right, POTUS and Chance are sorta kinda friends and it’s a pretty big deal. Chance’s father, Ken, once worked alongside President Obama when he was a Senator. The elder Mr. Bennett and Chance did volunteer work for the future Commander-in-Chief in Chicago prior to his history-making Presidential election in 2008. In April, Chance was one of several voices in hip-hop to convene in the White House to discuss the President’s initiative #MyBrothersKeeper regarding criminal justice reform. His younger brother is also a rapper.  Chance’s baby brother Taylor is also in the music business. While the two have never collaborated, fans have been anxiously awaiting for the two to go toe-to-toe swapping bars over a crazy beat. He is passionate about anti-violence in his hometown.  In 2014, Chance and his brother Taylor started an anti-violence initiative in the city. With the hashtags #SaveChicago, #FaithInAction and #PutTheGunsDown, the Bennett brothers helped to draw attention to safe places in Chicago neighborhoods for people to come together peacefully. The efforts that Chance and Taylor helped execute resulted in Chicago’s 2014 Memorial Day weekend go 42 hours without a single shooting. He’s a father.  Chance is proud dad to daughter Kinsley who was born in 2015. While the 2016 Made in America perfomer spits lines about his pride and joy, like on Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” or on his own song “All We Got”, he and his longtime girlfriend Kirsten have chosen to keep their little one off of social media.
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news. He teamed up with a non-profit to create the Warmest Winter 2016.  Chance and The Empowerment Plan helped to create a one-of-a-kind, self-heating, water resistant coats for the homeless in the city. The multi-use jackets also doubled as convertible sleeping bag and over-the-shoulder bags. The rapper enlisted the help of some of his famous friends to draw attention to his cause and help reach the $100,000 donation goal to help the homeless of the Windy City. His third mixtape could be eligible for a Grammy.  New changes to Grammy qualifications makes the independent artist eligible to win the coveted music accolade. In June, the Recording Academy made changes for the first time in its history to include streaming-only projects to be considered for prize contention. Chance’s much-acclaimed gospel inspired project Coloring Book has received a lot of buzz as it was released via Apple Music and later became available to fans via Spotify and Tidal. He believes in sharing his music with integrity.  “It’s not about the music being free. It’s about how it is displayed and made accessible and about artistic power,” explains Chance in his 2016 Billboard cover interview. “It was always about the artist-to-fan relationship.” He wrote that moving Muhammad Ali ESPY’s tribute with his parents in mind.  Chance’s mom Lisa lived near the late boxing legend in Chicago and once mustered the courage to knock on his front door only to discover he wasn’t home. Chance draws parallels between his father and Ali saying, “I see so much of my dad in Ali. Their voices, the physicality of them, their vulnerability.”