There are a few Oprah Winfrey quotes that will forever be embedded in my brain. Last night, while watching Chance The Rapper win Best New Artist and the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards, the one Oprah quote (via Quincy Jones) that I couldn’t get out of my head was, “your future is so bright it burns my eyes.” Chance’s future is blindingly bright. He is 24 YEARS OLD and as one Twitter user pointed out…
chance the rapper basically won rookie of the year and got inducted into the hall of fame in the same show.— Tony X. (@soIoucity) June 26, 2017
….he basically won a rookie of the year award and got inducted into the hall of fame in the same damn show. When does that ever happen?
I’ve been playing the role of Chance’s proud Auntie on this blog for a while. I cried an embarrassing, abnormal amount of tears when he won multiple Grammys in February. Last night, the proud Auntie part was filled by “our forever first lady” Michelle Obama. In a surprise taped piece, Michelle Obama explained why Chance is so deserving of all the things.
“In addition to making some really amazing music, Chance has been taking that big, bright spotlight that follows him around and he’s shining it on young people in our hometown of Chicago.”
Chance The Rapper is an advocate for education. He’s donating $1 million to Chicago Public Schools. He’s worked alongside the Obamas for criminal justice reform and the organization that he created, called SocialWorks, has raised more than $2 million. He’s doing this all while putting out positive and uplifting music. Again, the man is 24 years old. Usually, I might be concerned about someone reaching this type of success and adoration too early. Is Chance The Rapper peaking too soon? Here’s what he had to say about that in his Humanitarian Award acceptance speech:
“I’m 24 and to be receiving something like this at my age, it feels… a little early to get something like this but my God doesn’t make mistakes and I like to think that he’s putting this enormous pressure on me to see how I’ll react.”
Chance knows his power. He knows that he has a generation of young people looking up to him and an older generation hoping he’ll keep being that rapper they can endorse without controversy. When Michelle Obama calls you an “outstanding role model” before your 25th birthday, there are certain expectations to live up to. In other words, Chance can’t f-ck up. He knows he can’t f-ck up. He’s putting that pressure on himself. That self-awareness is why I think he’s going to be OK. Sure, he’ll make mistakes but I’m sure that Chance The Rapper will be the first person to check himself when he does. Chance ended an impassioned speech about the legalization of marijuana, the failing public school system in Chicago and the lack of justice for victims of police brutality with a promise to be better. Chance told us all the work he wants to do so we can hold him accountable in the future.
“I’m a good man and I’m going to become a better man.”
If this is Chancelor Johnathan Bennett at “good,” I can’t wait for “better.”
Watch Chance The Rapper’s full speech below.