Viewpoint: The Industry Can't Devour Chance's Soul

By Morgan Phillips on October 1, 2017

We Americans take our pop culture seriously. Like, embarrassingly seriously.

In fact, according to data from the National Science Foundation, just 39% of American’s verified the statement “The universe began with a huge explosion,” and when asked “which country dropped the nuclear bomb?” only 49% knew it was the one from which they hailed.

But come on now, who wouldn’t lay down in front of a truck for Beyonce?

And our celebrities are addicted to the drug of fame we provide them with. Just as the Kardashians silently begin to slip to the back of our minds, three of them are pregnant.

Taylor Swift’s  good, clean, down-home persona almost went to rest in peace in a soft spot in our hearts forever, but nope, she had to pull off the psycho-traumatic “Look What You Made Me Do,” because , hey, it worked for Miley Cyrus before her and Britney Spears before her. It’s as if Kanye , Katie Perry, and the big, bad media had personally transformed her into an edgy, badass madwoman.

But not Chance the Rapper. Chance won’t let his fame swallow his soul whole, leaving him nothing but a beautiful mindless clone of himself.

On his most recent appearance on the Stephen Colbert Show, Chance released his newest, untitled single.

The song begins by introducing a metaphor between pop stardom and stars spread across the universe, between celebrity success and the impartiality of the eyes of God.

Chance talks about his own temptations in how much harder it is to “sin naked” than be tempted by the material consumerism by which he is constantly surrounded. He is wavering between the lavish life he could easily give himself and the pain he feels over the all-encompassing poverty of much of the world (“stone mattresses, thin blankets, really long winter spent in a windbreaker.”)

Then he talks about how his fame and success is straining his intimate life (“I’m a rich excuse for a father. You just can’t tour a toddler…She don’t need diapers, she just need a papa.”), but he’s too far in, he can’t turn back now. The relationships he cherishes just can’t be the same anymore: “I think my little cousins want they cousin back…. It ain’t really fun to hang out with me no more, We can’t go to River East to hang at the beach no more.”

Chance ponders how all these injustices are going on in the world and he doesn’t do anything about them — “Now I just sip my tea sit on my ass.. send my tweet… But the recliner on my chair is like an emergency brake you know.”

But we as a society are all in on this, he says. We are so caught up in our beloved rappers and singers and actors that we “keep clappin’ and keep actin’ like Flint got clean water and y’all got teen daughters and black friends and gay cousins, y’all just gon’ say nothin’.”

Poor lil’ Chano, stop being so hard on yourself!

During the interview portion with Colbert, he discussed the difference between politics and legislation, and how politicians are more worried about keeping their job than representing constituents. He talked about the nonprofit he created, Social Works, which works to fund civic engagement and education in his home city of Chicago, and he of course, talked about church with his family and phone calls with his grandma.

Big-name artists have so much power to use their notoriety to call the public to action in the name of social good, and yet most of them fall short. They work so hard to be known as outrageous, or enviable, or sexual, or sometimes even talented, and they don’t worry enough about being altruistic, or maintaining dignity, or demonstrating good values.

So thank you to you, Chance, for not standing on top the top of the world and still holding close the memory of what it looks like from the other side.

 

 

 

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