By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
Last Sunday night Chicago’s Black community took a few hours away from all of the chaos of daily living to celebrate the victories won by native son, Chance the Rapper at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.
The 23-year-old from the South Side, born Chancellor Bennett, came away with three awards. An independent artist who gives his music away for free, he is being called a revolutionary in the music business. His success is inspiring other young artists including another Chicago native, 17-year-old Kaotik, who has released his own mix tape and is hoping to have the same success as Chance.
“I wasn’t surprised he won because he has put in a lot of work,” said Kaotik of Chance’s big night. “His wins put the spotlight back on Chicago is a positive way. He does positive music and that shows other artists similar to him what can happen.” Kaotik has been rapping since he was 12. He said there is a huge market for positive rap songs; he does not curse in his songs. He believes rap has become bogged down with everyone saying the same thing and Chance is breaking that mold. “There is nothing wrong with positive rap because it is selling,” Kaotik said.
As an independent artist himself, Kaotik says it is a lot of hard work and it takes a person who is really hungry and disciplined to be able to pull it off. He said the biggest challenge he faces is not having the financial backing of a record company.
Knowing you have to pay for all of your travel, promotions, and making your own connections with distributors makes things difficult. But he says being able to have creative control over your work is priceless. “When you’re independent you can play by your own rules, but you have to have the right people behind you to lead you in the right direction,” he says. For Kaotik that person is his mother Angela, who is his manager and takes a ‘hands on’ approach to her son’s career.
Chance benefited by having connections with President Obama. His father worked on Obama’s senatorial campaign. Chance also had connections with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s former Chief of Staff, whose brother is big in Hollywood. Chance has distanced himself from Emanuel since the LaQuan McDonald shooting, however.
He did not need Emanuel. When he released his album Coloring Book, without the backing of a record label, he had already made considerable connections and created a huge platform because of previous collaborations with stars such as Kanye West.
Chance realizes his wins mean a lot to plenty of people with the independent spirit. He mentioned them in his acceptance speech. “This is for every indie artist, everybody doing the mix tape stuff for a long time,” he said, while holding his award up towards the sky. “I just want to say thank you to my team for being here. I love my family, I love God and I love music.”
In the meantime Kaotik is working on his newest mix tape, which will come out later this month. He said Chance’s win has inspired him and other indie artists to work even harder.
“We now all see it can be done. I think that is what it takes; you need to see success to see it is possible.”