The most innovative, game-changing hip-hop artist today is not, in fact, Kanye West. The man who fills that role, however, has a huge fan in Mr. Kardashian (and Beyoncé and Childish Gambino and nearly everyone else with a pulse).
Fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper is on the verge of being the first artist to win a Grammy for a nonphysical, streaming-only album that was released for free. His universally revered 2016 effort, Coloring Book, is being hailed as an instant hip-hop classic. The gospel-influenced followup to 2013’s breakthrough record, Acid Rap, is, in a word, transcendent. Blurring the line between the secular and the spiritual, it is the 23-year-old’s treatise on matters of both the soul and the world. From referencing the incessant violence on the streets of his hometown to taking shots at the record industry he’s so successfully rebuffed, Coloring Book is a lush, masterful work of gospel rap.
As if his musical accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, Chance the Rapper, born Chancellor Bennett, is the sort of supremely talented Everyman we cheer for because he cares about us too. After scalpers snatched up a bunch of tickets to his Magnificent Coloring Day festival featuring Alicia Keys, Lil Jon, and John Legend, Chance purchased nearly 2,000 of them with the sole intent of reselling them to his fans far below the ridiculous prices at which “fuckboy scalpers” were offering them.
Now if only he could do the same for his sold-out show in Miami this week.
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Chance the Rapper. 8 p.m. Monday, October 10, and Tuesday, October 11, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7300; fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost $45 to $90 via livenation.com.