Chance the Rapper Makes History at the 2017 Grammys

Bailey Handley

Chance the Rapper performs at his concert in Detroit, MI on September 25, 2016. This concert was part of his Magnificent Coloring World Tour. Photo Credit / Bailey Handley

On the night of the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, the energetic and jubilant Chance the Rapper made history. He brought home three Grammy awards, becoming the first artist in Grammy history to win an award without selling any of his music. Chance gives all of his music out for free because he feels he is able to lead other artists to their independence from record labels. He has built a reputation as an independent artist by not signing to any record label, which might explain his unique fan base.
Chance won Grammy awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance for his song “No Problem” and Best Rap Album for his gospel-infused hip-hop mixtape, “Coloring Book.” For Best Rap Album, Chance beat out multiple hip-hop powerhouses, including his mentor, Kanye West and Drake. All of the other albums up for the award were backed by major record labels, while “Coloring Book” was released by Chance himself.
Chance isn’t signed to any record label and doesn’t sell any of his music. He makes his money via touring and selling merchandise. He sells the popular “3” hats that he is always wearing, which are typically on backorder for five to six weeks. Even though this an untraditional way of doing business, it allows him to do what he pleases with his music. He is able to work with the artists he chooses to work with, which allows him to create his own unique sound.
In “Coloring Book” he had a gospel, hip-hop mixed sound. The theme of Chance’s lyrics have transformed in each mixtape. In his freshman mixtape, “10 Day,” he recorded the whole mixtape on the topic of being suspended from school while he was on a ten day suspension from his high school.
In his second mixtape, “Acid Rap,” he has a variety of ideas and wordplay displayed throughout. He goes from rapping about God’s cell phone battery to racial politics, all while putting insane rhymes together. In his most recent mixtape, “Coloring Book,” he raps about God, love, Chicago and dance. He grew more religious upon learning his girlfriend was pregnant with their first child. It was his love for God and Chicago that helped him create his Grammy-winning mixtape.
Chance’s three Grammy wins would not have even been possible if the Grammy committee didn’t relax its rule last year that only albums released on Apple Music or Spotify could be up for an award. This relaxation of the rules may allow for more independent artists to be nominated and win Grammy awards.
“This is for every Indie artist!” Chance shouted as he received his Grammy for Best Rap Album.
Chance is insistent on keeping control of his own music. After the release of his second mixtape, “Acid Rap,” he had plans of signing to a label, but after meeting with three major labels, he figured that the best thing he could do for his music is release it to listeners without any constraints.
With Chance’s influence on the change in Grammy rules, he is becoming one of the most influential hip-hop artists in the rap game right now. His three Grammy wins were a big victory for independent artists, and these artists might now start to receive the respect they deserve from the Grammys and other music awards committees.