Chance the Champion
“I was not made for this, this was made for me, and it’s gonna work out,” boasts Chance the Rapper, on one of his newest singles, “Work Out.” The song comes from a package of four separate singles dropped by the Chicago artist July 19. “Work Out,” “Wala Cam,” "65th & Ingleside,” and “I Might Need Security” came just in time for the late summer release train and all capture a different view of Chano’s talents, life, and tastes while staying unflinchingly authentic to the style he always has flaunted.
It would be a great time to be Chance the Rapper, also known to fans as Chano,, who was recently engaged, and also recently purchased Chicagoist, a web-based media outlet that shut down last autumn, after one of its sister sites, Gothamist, voted to unionize. His purchase of the outlet not only comes as a surprise and brand new business venture for Chance, but it also seats itself as yet another homage to his home, the Windy City. Chance took another interesting move in unveiling the move to buy Chicagoist in “I Might Need Security.” Simultaneously, he discusses mending his relationship with his fiancée and child’s mother on “65th & Ingleside.” Beyond that, Chance seems to have made amends with all his exes too, a topic he expands on in “Work Out.” Basically, if you were wondering where Lil Chano’ from 79th has been lately- son has been working.
“65th & Ingleside”
“65th & Ingleside” is probably the most telling of the four singles. The track goes in depth to discuss the darker parts of Chance’s history with his child’s mother. The title refers to the intersection on the East Side of Chicago where they lived while they were dating. Chance enlists Peter Cottontale to sing the refrain and produce, alongside Greg Landfair, Nate Fox and Lido. The production team, which included Chance, is predictable and in line with his older work. Sonically the song is almost calming and Chano’s voice comes across so clear the first words of the verse grab you, forcing you to listen and understand the message. Chance raps emotional truths about unreciprocated love and care all over the track.
“I was sleeping with you every night, but I was still tryna’ act single, right?”
Chance is rapping about being a deadbeat boyfriend, not having a job, not contributing to the finances, finally breaking through, and trying to make up for all the times he fell short. It’s not like he’s rapping to a woman he wants back; he’s apologizing to his fiancée.
It’s normal for a rapper to speak on a woman that changed his life in the past tense with common, sometimes cliché, situations making up the details. “I cheated, I didn’t communicate,” etc. What we get from Chance here is an in-depth confession of his shortcomings and faults as a young man. The song is fantastic. There is no shortage of superior wordplay, biblical references, entrancing boom bap matched with airy melody. It’s an A-plus Chance the Rapper song, sonically.
The substance surpasses the music, however. We don’t always see rap artists bleed and cry all over a song like this. There are plenty of relatable moments, but not everyone can relate to everything. That’s what makes this song unique, the fact that it truly is an open message to his fiancée and child’s mother. This is the uncut authenticity Chance the Rapper has branded and excelled at producing for years.
“I Might Need Security”
Chance once said, “The peoples champ must be everything the people can’t be”. Not everyone can preach their demons and problems like he does because a lot of us aren’t honest enough with ourselves to be that open with the world. Chance simply lets authenticity breathe on every one of these singles. Whether it’s hometown loyalty, love, hate, or anything in between, truth seems to be Chano’s muse. Not every rapper is known to keep it real like that, yet also be a positive and happy individual. Despite having such a glowing disposition Chance isn’t immune to negativity and has never pretended to be. In fact, he comes across as a regular guy with a short temper who just tries not to lose it sometimes. “I Might Need Security” plays on that image of Chano and addresses a few others, such as media outlets pinning him as a deadbeat dad or an insincere activist disconnected from his community..
Presented as an anthem of passive-aggressiveness, “I Might Need Security” is pretty much where Chance airs all of his grievances. He takes aim at media outlets, bloggers, and even the mayor of Chicago, all over a piano, drum-kit, and a sample of Jamie Foxx’s harmonious voice looped over. As the sample sings “F*** ***” melodiously, Chance delivers a barrage of insults, declarations and commandments. He starts by saying,
“I ain’t no activist, I’m the protagonist.”
That proclamation is the Rapper telling you that this is his story, and he is shaping it how he wants. Making reference to his hyped-up, nice- guy rapper image he states,
“I’m not no nice guy, I’m just a good guy.”
Chance the Rapper succeeds in having fantastic lyricism, while at the same time having some of the best quotables in the game right now. Every verse has at least five Instagram captions in it; you just have to listen.
Despite being such a good guy, Chano isn’t one to be played. He wants to impact his hometown and he has been serious about that since day one. Last November in a chamber meeting, Chance made a speech saying the city should be spending millions on its school system and mental health programs instead of a $95 million police academy. The mayor left the chamber before Chance could finish his remarks, which landed him in this song. Chance aims directly between the sitting mayor’s eyeballs and shoots,
“Rahm you done/I’m expecting resignation/and open investigation on all of these paid vacations for murderers.”
Whether the mayor will resign, drop a diss track in response, or neglect the shot is to be determined. I know he said he isn’t an activist, but sometimes Chance just makes that hard to believe. He has called himself a soldier, and a kingdom builder within the same five bars. Both of those titles are fitting, though.
Chance constantly fights for minority rights and action in his city. Chicagoist is another brick in the kingdom. In the song he says he purchased the outlet, “just to run you racist bitches out of business.” In that same verse he tears down all of the other outlets that have slandered him or run bad pieces about him. He raps,
“I missed a Crain’s interview, they tried leaking my addy, I donate to the schools, next they call me a deadbeat daddy, the Sun-Times getting that Rauner business, I got a hit list so long I don’t know how to finish.
”As far as references and shots go, those few bars go deep. Crain’s is a Chicago-based business publication that ran a story about Chance purchasing a condo in Streeterville, after he missed an interview with them. Chance has donated millions to Chicago public schools, however instead of a piece about that, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a piece criticizing him over having back child support, a dispute that since has been settled. In reference to “that Rauner business,” Chance is saying the Sun-Times is doing the dirty work of the Republican governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner. All of this ties into Chano purchasing the Chicagoist. There is something to be said for the rapper’s influence, but owning a media outlet is totally different. If Chance can run the outlet responsibly (i.e. reporting news fairly and appropriately, not in the interest of him or any of his friends or cohorts) he may have his next millions lined up. Chance wants the publication to focus on independent minority issues. Little more is known of his plans as of now.
Speaking of plans, every girl who planned to exercise and didn’t, just might find their next Instagram caption in “Work Out.” Over a low but infectious bass line the chorus cries:
“Today I missed my workout but it worked out. Now I’m missing work now but it worked out. Had to buy a crib ‘fore I bought my first house. Had my first kid, I love how she turned out, even if I’m burned out. I’ma have so many seeds I could have a birdhouse, send my love on they momma, I hope it work out.”
It’s a very pretty song, accompanied by Chance’s smiley vocals and the signature sound of his production team. Truthfully, it is almost cartoonish, but far from corny. Chance takes the track to talk about the changes affecting he and his life. The song seems to focus on growing up and not being the same guy from “65th & Ingleside,” while also not running from who he was. Once again, he’s openly addressing his faults and his past while looking ahead, joking, and being positive. Whether he means to or not, Chance radiates light to the rap game.
Chance challenges the hyper-masculinity that has monopolized rap music for so long by doing nothing but being himself. He’s an improved version of a young Kanye West in the way that ‘Ye always challenged that hyper-masculine expectation to its face. Yelling at it, dissing it, and openly disowning it. Chance stays where he is and has a fantastic time doing his own thing. That is a part of his mass appeal. Not only is he a family man and loyal to his hometown, but he’s loyal to his own values.
Loyalty to Chicago is one of Chance’s most prominent motifs. As a Chicagoan he has performed in groups with names that pay homage to the town’s sports teams, dropped songs that speak directly to the streets he ran as a child, he’s donated, he’s protested, and been as much of a model citizen as possible, surpassing most of his peers in activism and charity work. “Wala Cam,” the final track from the package becoming known as “Chance 4”, serves as a love letter to Chicago, the city’s unique dance scene, and “Wala Cam TV,” a Chicago program which features performing artists from the city and region. The track features Chicago natives Supa Bwe and Forever Band. Chance says the song was inspired by the Chicago Juke dance scene, something he’s mentioned in tracks like “Juke Jam” and “Juke Juke.”
The other songs in the package are covered in meaning and demand interpretation. “Wala Cam” goes strictly against that grain and invites its listener to just get up and dance. It’s a song that demands you have a good time. It doesn’t lend itself to tradition, but it begs you get up and enjoy the vibes. There isn’t a great deal of analyzing to do. The song was simply made for dancers by dancers and it’s infectious.
We love hearing Chance rap over melodies and sing along, but hearing him over fast-paced beats covered in bass, snare, and hi-hat is refreshing. So much so that it almost sounds like one of his more typical feature verses. He raps circles around listeners and everyone else on the song, while still making sense- an art that seems lost sometimes.
Every track in the package has an abundance of meaning and substance. Whether it be Chicago, love, growth, or grievances the songs are real and should be impactful. While I want to dance (as best I can) to “Wala Cam,” I want to send “Work Out” to my ex, but “65th & Ingleside” to my next. I want to scream every relatable part of “I Might Need Security” to anyone who’s ever wronged me or cut me off in traffic. The honesty of the music enhances the impact and the sound is already banging. There’s little left to be desired from an artist who can piece together a beautiful production team, write his own deep and meaningful bars, and heavily dose his own style into all of his moves. Only off the flavor of these singles, Chance dazzled this summer, even if he does nothing else.