Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper, is an American hip hop recording artist who came into prominence for his rap music. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Bennett had a passion for singing from an early age. He wanted to be a musician, even though his father wanted him to land a white-collar job. Bennett formed his own hip-hop duo called ‘Instrumentality’ with a friend. A soul and jazz enthusiast, it was Kanye West’s debut album ‘The College Dropout’ that sparked Bennett’s interest in hip-hop. Forsaking his studies, Bennett took to music professionally. Though he released several singles and a mixtape, it was his second mixtape ‘Acid Rap’ that truly launched his career. Bennett’s professional graph peaked further with his third mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ that earned him three ‘Grammy’ nominations. It also became the first streaming-only album ever to receive a ‘Grammy’ nomination. Other than his solo ventures, Bennett has clubbed with various other musicians. He collaborated with the lead vocalist of the band ‘The Social Experiment’ to come up with a popular album titled ‘Surf.’
Childhood & Early Life
Chance the Rapper was born Chancelor Jonathan Bennett on April 16, 1993, in West Chatham, Chicago, USA, to Ken Williams Bennett. His father, who was an aide to former Chicago mayor and senator, currently serves as the deputy chief to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Bennett has a younger brother named Taylor Bennett, who is a rapper too.
Bennett received his education from ‘Jones College Prep High School.’ It was during his freshman year that he formed a hip hop duo called ‘Instrumentality’ with a friend. His initial performances were delivered at ‘YOUmedia Lyricist Loft’ at the ‘Harold Washington Library.’
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Despite being ridiculed by his teachers, Bennett’s passion for music did not wither away. Instead, he pursued his ambition with full force and recorded his first mixtape ‘10 Day’ in early 2011. He ended the year by releasing a song titled ‘Windows.’
In April 2012, Bennett released his mixtape to an overwhelming response. The mixtape was commercially successful and critically lauded. Ever since its release, it has been downloaded over 500,000 times via ‘Datpiff.’ The mixtape was featured in ‘Forbes’ magazine’s ‘Cheap Tunes’ column.
After a stint with American rapper Childish Gambino in the latter’s mixtape ‘Royalty,’ Bennett released his second mixtape ‘Acid Rap’ in April 2013. Downloaded over 1.5 million times, the mixtape was praised by music critics and fans alike. It even received the nomination for ‘Best Mixtape’ at the 2013 ‘BET Hip Hop Awards.’
‘Acid Rap’ debuted at number 63 on ‘Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.’ It also made it to the list of ‘50 Best Albums of 2013’ and peaked at the 26th spot on ‘Rolling Stones.’ It was ranked fourth by ‘Complex.’ It was also listed as one of NPR Music's ‘50 Favorite Albums Of 2013.’
In May 2013, he released the single ‘Paranoia’ for the ‘Songs from Scratch’ series. Next, he was featured in Childish Gambino's album ‘Because the Internet,’ which released on December 10, 2013.
In March 2014, just when his music career was on a roll, Bennett made his mark as a model as well. He appeared in a shoppable online video for ‘Dockers,’ promoting the brand's spring line.
In 2015, Bennett released a short film titled ‘Mr. Happy.’ Directed by Colin Tilley, it revolves around the protagonist ‘Victor,’ who is down with depression and has suicidal tendencies until he meets ‘Mr. Happy.’
In May 2015, Bennett released his album ‘Surf’ on the American iTunes store as an iTunes Exclusive. The album gained high acclaim from music critics. He soon followed it up with a performance at the ‘Bonnaroo Music Festival’ for the superjam concert collection. During this time, he also performed as a guest alongside fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar with the popular band ‘Earth, Wind & Fire.’
Together with Lil B, Bennett recorded a collaborative mixtape titled ‘Free Based Freestyles Mixtape’ and released it in August 2015. He followed it up with a video for his new song ‘Family Matters.’ The song was a rework of Kanye West’s song ‘Family Business’ from the latter’s 2004 album ‘The College Dropout.’
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On October 27, 2015, Bennett premiered a new song titled ‘Angels’ on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.’ Later in the year, he performed on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ wherein he premiered yet another song titled ‘Somewhere in Paradise.’
In 2016, Bennett co-wrote and featured in Kanye West's song ‘Ultralight Beam’ for the album ‘The Life of Pablo.’ Other songs written by him for the album include ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,’ ‘Famous,’ ‘Feedback,’ and ‘Waves.’
Following his collaboration with West, he featured with hip-hop duo ‘Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ in the track ‘Need To Know’ for the album ‘This Unruly Mess I've Made.’ He next featured in Skrillex's remix of Hundred Waters' ‘Show Me Love.’
In May 2016, Bennett came up with his third mixtape ‘Coloring Book.’ The mixtape streamed exclusively on Apple Music, debuting at number eight on ‘Billboard 200.’ The score of the mixtape was widely appreciated by the audience and critics alike.
Bennett’s work includes the single ‘We the People,’ which he did for the ‘Nike’ commercial ‘Unlimited Together.’ He even starred in it and also in the ‘Nestle Kit Kat’ commercial.
In September 2016, he began the ‘Magnificent Coloring World Tour’ in San Diego. He initiated what would be the first ever music festival at ‘U.S. Cellular Field’ in Chicago’s South Side.
He performed at the 59th ‘Annual Grammy Awards’ in February 2017. Later in the year, his song ‘Last Christmas,’ which was performed on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ was nominated for an ‘Emmy Award.’
In August 2017, Bennett headlined day three of ‘Lollapalooza Music Festival.’ The following year, he was featured in ‘Logout,’ a song from Saba’s album ‘Care for Me.’ He was also featured in ‘Best Life’ from Cardi B’s debut album ‘Invasion of Privacy.’
In November 2018, he released two new singles, namely ‘My Own Thing’ and ‘The Man Who Has Everything’ for his upcoming debut studio album. He was also featured in Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Cross Me.’
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Bennett’s debut studio album ‘The Big Day’ was released independently on 26 July 2019. The album debuted at number two on the ‘US Billboard 200’ and was critically appreciated. The album was influenced by his wedding, which took place in March 2019.
Chance the Rapper established himself as a hip hop artist and musician after releasing his third mixtape ‘Coloring Book.’ Debuting at number eight on ‘Billboard 200,’ it became the first release to chart solely on streams. The mixtape was widely lauded by the critics and went on to receive three ‘Grammy’ nominations, including ‘Best Rap Album.’ It also became the debut streaming-only album ever to receive a ‘Grammy’ nomination.
Awards & Achievements
In November 2014, Chance the Rapper was presented with Chicago's ‘Outstanding Youth of the Year Award’ by ‘Mayor Outstanding Youth.’
In January 2015, he was ranked seventh on the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30 2015’ music list.
Bennett’s third mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ received three ‘Grammy’ nominations, including the ‘Best Rap Album.’ It became the first streaming-only album to ever receive a ‘Grammy’ nomination.
Personal Life & Legacy
Chance the Rapper started dating Kirsten in 2013. The couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Kensli, in September 2015.
The couple had a fall out in 2016 and stopped living together. Eventually, the two reconciled and tied the knot on March 9, 2019. The couple announced the arrival of their second daughter Marli in September 2019.
Bennett is a devout Christian and often refers to Christ in his songs.
Bennett actively promotes the #SaveChicago campaign. The campaign is aimed at stopping brutality and gun violence. He also met the then-President Obama to discuss ‘My Brother's Keeper Challenge,’ an initiative by the United States Federal Government to encourage civic leaders intervene in the lives of young men of color to address their unique challenges and promote racial justice.