Chance the Rapper: The Legendary Marketer
If Kanye West and Jay-Z are rap gods, Chance the Rapper is Hercules as he forges his path to Hip Hop Mt. Olympus. He Triumphs over every trial, Changes the way the industry functions, and ascends to a god-like level. but, like Hercules, he remains with the people, making Chance a marketing genius.
Chancellor Johnathan Bennett doesn’t do the same drugs anymore. In fact, he hasn’t touched the stuff in years. The substances that once helped boost his acid-laced lyrical barrages are no longer a fixture in his life. He’s grown, learning there are far more intoxicating panaceas. Now, his addiction includes the organic growth of artistry, love, family, community and God. That is what we have come to learn in 2016 with the release of his critically acclaimed mixtape, Coloring Book. The same work that launched him into another stratosphere, cementing his place in the top-tier of hip hop stardom. But, it wasn’t easy. Chance has gone head-to-head with the music titans of today to chart a unique path grounded in independence, activism, and respect for his forefathers--three aspects that describe Herculean greatness.
Independence (The Nemean Lion)
Hercules risks death to venture out on his own to slay a devastating lion that terrorized the Nemean region of ancient Greece. Once slayed, the legend of Hercules begins to ring far and wide.
Chance has become a champion of artistry and independent ownership, declaring that record executives don’t want No Problems. And, they don’t. He challenges everything they stand for, showing us that big marketing campaigns and management machines are no longer necessary. In 2016, as an independent artist, he accomplished more than any other independent artist ever. His mixtape, which was released for free, garnered critical acclaim and raucous fanfare, earning him #8 on the top 200 Billboard chart and 7 Grammy nominations. He ended up taking home three. Aside from his award recognition, he influenced a new level of creative consciousness, challenging both the music industry and politicians to improve their practices. Whether working closely with GOOD Music and Roc Nation (both artist-driven labels that challenge the status quo) or rubbing elbows with former President Barack Obama, his impact on the culture changed the game.
Activism (The Lernean Hydra)
The Learnean Hydra was Hercules’ second trial, where Hercules had to overcome the creature that lay in the murky water of Lerna. The Hydra was believed to be a threatening creature that terrorized the coast. Hercules was courageous in the face of the unknown.
Chance has transitioned from Acid Raps to Active(ist) Raps (Corny, I know. But what else would you call it? Seriously, leave your idea in the comments section). His lyrics mean something, which is far too rare these days. His messages shake up previously rigid constructs of our society. For instance, he celebrates black joy in a culture that hardens men with hyper masculine messages, influences young people to put their guns down, and makes his music free for everyone. Chance has become a beacon for future generations, standing for what he believes in and creating a more inclusive social landscape for Hip Hop.
Chasing the Legends (The Hind of Ceryneia)
The Hind of Ceryneia was an amazing story due to its intricate details. The hind (female deer) was the actual pet of Diana, goddess of hunting and the moon, which meant that Hercules was unable to hunt for the animal. However, Hercules learned from his predecessors to overcome the obstacle and complete the task.
His moves are the stuff of legend, literally. He has taken notes from each of the greats that preceded him and figured out how to improve upon the model. He launched his own record label, formed a creative collective and started a movement with the Social Experiment, like Jay-Z & Rocafella Records in the late 90s. He released free music and jumped on a slew of features catapulting his rise and grabbing fans with each new verse like Lil Wayne in the mid 2000s. And he challenged the political foundations that unjustly casts a shadow over the 'hood like Tupac Shakur in the mid 90s. Last week, Chance held a surprise press conference in Chicago to announce that he was donating $1 Million to Chicago Public Schools. His latest philanthropic endeavor is another accolade that he can add to his stellar resume.
Chance leads a generation of artists, inspired by the ‘be different’ mantra that has birthed the likes of his mentors - hip hop gods, Kanye West and Jay Z. However, he’s creating something different - a ministry of sorts. A cult following gained by a genuine affinity for the Chicago native. His story, a Herculean tale of his rise from obscure normalcy to triumphant hero of Hip Hop, leads the culture to a new golden era, or at least one that's more aware. His labors - to embolden this generation to be joyful, despite society’s nihilism. His mission is to inspire and motivate the youth of Chicago to stop the violence and start voting. His experiment is to grow the arts and bring free music and happiness to the people. And while his legend grows he remains relatable. He is the people's’ champion.
Chance is carving out a space among his generation, leaving a legacy of wins that speak volumes. His story is that of legend, and his ability to accomplish incredible feats at such a young age shows he is destined for greatness. Marketing is a science, one that companies are paying top dollar to create and cultivate in order to maximize their perception. However, organic marketing - the type of genuine messaging that connect businesses with organic users. Hercules and Chance are natural marketing machines cultivating a spot for themselves in the annals of history.