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ThaWilsonBlock Magazine Issue58 (December 2017)

Chance the Rapper: "I Never Wanted to Sell my Music"

"I thought putting a price on it put a limit on it and inhibited me from making a connection,” explains Chance
(whose real name is Chancellor Johnathan Bennett). The politically active 23-year-old Chicago native talks politics, rap, and free music...

You campaigned for Hillary Clinton and you helped get out the vote in Illinois. Do you think performers have an obligation to be politically involved?
CHANCE THE RAPPER: I think our duty as American citizens is to be involved and engaged in anything that affects us. As an artist, I have to use my platform, and as a dad, a brother, and a black man, I have to be as socially woke and present as possible. I don’t feel great about [the results of the election], but in all honesty, I wasn’t that surprised that Trump won. I’m not a pessimist . . . but I’m always woke and waiting to find something fishy going on so I can let motherfuckers know.

Your father, Ken Williams-Bennett, ran early Senate campaigns for Barack Obama and was a head of personnel in President Obama’s first term in the White House. Is he proud of your success?
CHANCE: My dad is probably the most proud person when it comes to me, and we have a great relationship. If people have a compliment about my character, they usually say they can tell I was raised right, and that’s the truth.

How and why do you still give your music away for free? And how do you make money?
CHANCE: After I made my second mixtape and gave it away online, my plan was to sign with a label and figure out my music from there. But after meeting with the three major labels, I realized my strength was being able to offer my best work to people without any limit on it. My first two projects are on places where you can get music for free. With Coloring Book, Apple had it on their streaming service exclusively for two weeks for free—and then it was available on all the places my earlier work is still available on. I make money from touring and selling merchandise, and I honestly believe if you put effort into something and you execute properly, you don’t necessarily have to go through the traditional ways.

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