Mixtape, discovery, recording contract, studio album, tour, fame: this has been the process for most musical artists, a formula that has seemed to work for many. Yet Chancelor Bennett prefers the unconventional approach.
On December 12th, 2015 the young hip-hop sensation, Chance the Rapper, became the first artist without any major label affiliation to perform on Saturday Night Live. Through moral values and artistic integrity, Chance has gone against the music executives and has reached global phenomenon whilst maintaining his creative control.
“If you look at those old vinyl records you will see in big print on the middle Atlantic or Capital Records and then below that in a much smaller size will show the artists’ name,” said Chance in an interview with Hot 97.
Shortly after his debut mixtape, “10 Day”, Chance assembled his dream team consisting of only a manager, booking agent, and publicist. A small cast which has projected him into universal fame and yielded magazine covers, national tours, and hit songs. His campaign has baffled the minds of labels and A&Rs around the world and proves that they might just be the unnecessary medium separating the artist from the listeners in this new era of music listening.
And for some reason it is the record label earning the majority of the revenue.
Mr. Bennett has shared in a few interviews that he has been coerced by every major record label and has turned down a variety of huge deals. (In an interview, Chance has implied that these offers have been in the ballpark of $8 million.)
“Once I put that Atlantic sticker on my records, that makes me their employee and I am then no longer in control of my music or the final product,” said Chance in a radio interview.
Chance is in no rush to join any label because not only does he have complete authority over the final product of his work, he also is in charge of his fan base. He has established a very loyal and dedicated group of listeners who appreciate him not only for his music but also for his beliefs about the industry.
“Why charge a dollar for a song when that’s not doing anything but making people undervalue music? None of my song’s are worth 99 cents. They’re worth a lot more,” Mr. Bennett explains.
Every one of Chance’s projects is available for FREE on Soundcloud or iTunes.
“I just released a song called Home Studio because I made it in my home studio. And the whole point was, I can drop a song on Soundcloud and reach 100,000 in eight hours around the world. The audience is infinite.”
In an interview Chance had with Rolling Stone, he stated that he believes the major label system is a “dead industry” and that “maybe I’ll just make my money touring.”
Mr. Bennett comes from accomplished roots through his fathers’ involvement in the community. Ken Williams-Bennett served as an aide to the former mayor of Chicago and then worked for Barack Obama whilst he was a senator. Now his father works now as a deputy chief of staff to May Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. Chance has stated that growing up he had conversations with the now president as well as had internships in the mayor’s office and city hall.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bennett’s political career ended just there, but just in time for his music legend to begin.
Getting suspended from Chicago’s elite Jones College Prep High School for possession of marijuana on school grounds inspired his first mixtape, ’10 Day’ where he ironically recorded in his school’s media’s lounge at 17 back in 2011. This first release gave Chance the opportunity to show his unique style and voice and in return was awarded recognition from Forbes Magazine as “the next big thing,” 300,000 downloads and a place on tour with Childish Gambino.
But it was Mr. Bennett’s second mixtape, ‘Acid Rap’, which propelled him to instant fame. With over a million downloads, Acid Rap, featured a line-up of artists including Action Bronson, Vic Mensa, Childish Gambino, Ab-Soul, and many more. It has been ranked very highly as one of the best albums of 2013 on a variety of publications including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR Music, and 4th on Complex Magazine’s list.
Chance has embarked on a new band, The Social Experiment, in which he teams up with the likes of Donnie Trumpet and has toured the country through the festival scene. They have released a mixtape together titled ‘Surf’ that is his only work available on iTunes as well as a mixtape also called ‘The Social Experiment.’
Chance the Rapper continues to grow in familiarity to the public and in his own music. Now 22 and a recent father, he continues to release new and fresh ideas and tracks to reflect his current state.
“Everybody is looking for what I am going to do next and the answer is I am going to do new music.”
No record label and free downloads for all his music should result in an impoverished music career on paper. However, Mr. Bennett’s refreshing insight, touring enthusiasm, experimental composing, and unique sound have kept him thriving.
Lil Chano from the 79th continues to surprise us and can now be found on Kanye West’s, The Life of Pablo’s, “Ultralight Beams.”