In January, I wrote about how Chance The Rapper was leaning hard into his good guy persona. I also wrote about how having “Grammy-award winning” in front of your name means ultimate validation for artists and how much I wanted that for Chance. Well, Chance The Rapper was validated 3 times over last night. He won Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance and, the one I screamed the most over, Best New Artist.
Rolling Stone tweeted a fact last night that I couldn’t believe: the last black hip-hop artist to win the Best New Artist Grammy was Lauryn Hill in 1999. It’s been almost 20 years. For the past two decades, hip-hop has dominated mainstream music and the Recording Academy is trying to tell us that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were the only deserving hip-hop act in that time? That stat should have prepared me for what was going to happen later in the night. I should have known. Anyway, I’m going to focus on what the Grammys did right and that was to give Chance all the things. There was a point in the broadcast where I couldn’t believe we still had his performance to look forward to because we had already seen him so much.
First up, Chance accepted the Best New Artist Grammy. Chance’s story is so improbable because he still isn’t signed to a major label. He is a legit independent artist. Coloring Book was a mixtape that wouldn’t have even been eligible for Grammy contention a few years ago. Chance represents the changing tide in the music industry and as The Ringer brilliantly noted, he’s the quintessential new Millennial. There’s nothing more New Millennial than thanking Soundcloud in your Grammy acceptance speech. Every time Chance got on that stage, I scared the sh-t out of my dog by making noises no human should and shedding tears no person who isn’t actually related to Chancellor Johnathan Bennett should shed. Plus, we are all indebted to Chance for saving us from screaming/ throwing sh-t at our televisions if The Chainsmokers won. Even though they are now inexplicably Grammy winners, they did not take any home during the live show. Thank God.
Speaking of deities, watching Beyoncé’s performance was a religious experience in and of itself but the closest we came to being in an actual Christian church last night was Chance’s medley of songs from Coloring Book featuring the mixtape’s guest stars Tamela Mann, Francis and the Lights and Kirk Franklin (!!!). Anyone else forced to listen to gospel hip-hop growing up? Just me? Kirk Franklin’s Revolution wasn’t on repeat in your CD player in 1998 too? Anyway, Chance is not subtle about his beliefs. Not only did he perform with a full choir but he thanked God a lot last night. He may have annoyed a few people (some in my Twitter feed) with all of his religious shout outs and I get it – believe me I understand not wanting to hear about Jesus every five seconds— but Chance’s unapologetic faith has always been endearing to me. Emily sent me this article in Buzzfeed called Why Chance The Rapper’s Black Christian Joy Matters and in it, the writer points out that, “Chance’s Christianity is one of inestimable joy. It’s buoyant, it’s grandiose, it’s infectious.”
His faith isn’t hateful or exclusionary. He’s not the religious guy who is trying to convert everyone around him. Chance is a reminder that you should be able to celebrate your faith, whatever it is, with “buoyant, grandiose and infectious joy” and without judgment. His Grammy performance was all of the above. And if you don’t care about any of that, watch it because Chance is cute AF.
You can watch it in full below. Sorry about the sh-tty quality. They keep taking down the clips.