“It's been fucking wild" – rap's bounciest breakout tells all on his insane 12 months
Speaking to Dazed from a hotel room in “Bumfuck, Montana”, Chance the Rapper seems considerably more subdued than he was when he was interviewed for our August issue. Back then, Chance had just dropped his mixtape Acid Rap and was riding high on the early reception: 50k downloads in the first night of release, shoutouts from industry icons, and high critical praise. In an age of hype-driven hip hop sensations, it seemed a legitimate rap star had been born. We put him on the cover to prove it.
Fast forward seven months, and his trajectory has continued unbounded. He has opened for Kendrick Lamar and Eminem, toured with Macklemore and Mac Miller, collaborated with Justin Bieber and James Blake, and – as we approach the end of the year – landed a place on every end of year list going. No wonder he sounds a bit tired. In the final days of his own US headline tour, 20-year-old Chancelor Bennett from Chicago reflects on twelve, life-changing months.
“I had a lot of goals at the start of the year, but no expectations. I never thought: ‘Oh, the mixtape’s gonna drop and this or that will happen.’ I knew that I was going to do my project (Acid Rap) in 2013, and I knew it that it would be big. I really did put a lot of effort into the mixtape, and I’m happy about how it was received – by which I mean that people took it not just as a new thing, but as a new thing that was good.
Other than that, I just wanted to perform and do a bunch of opening spots, which we did for Macklemore, and Mac Miller, and Kendrick. And then we ended up doing a headlining tour, although that wasn’t even part of the original plan. I also wanted to be on Saturday Night Live and go to the Grammy’s this year, neither of which happened. As I said before, I wasn’t so much expecting anything in 2013 as I was working towards things. There was no timespan on going to the Grammy’s but it was something that I said I wanted at the beginning of this year that I hadn’t said at the start of 2012. And I got a lot closer to it.
Which of my original goals am I most happy to have achieved? I’ve done so much, it’s been a long-ass year! I guess I really wanted to open a show for Kendrick Lamar, and I did that this year. That was a sick-ass thing. I met him for the first time in Iowa and he told me he was a fan and he rapped one of my lyrics – it was "ten damn days”, a lyric from "Pusha Man". That was so dope. Kendrick is my role model; I text him and ask him for advice all the time. He’s so fucking smart. Kendrick, Ab-Soul, Jill Scott – those are the few people who have come through with consistently amazing advice.
It’s hard to say who I enjoyed working with most in 2013, because I’ve worked with some incredible people. But if I had to choose one, I’d say Jeremih. Even though none of the shit we worked on has come out yet, I can say that Jeremih is the fucking saviour of R&B, bro. Next level writing, next level production, next level shit in general. He’s a genius.
I’ve experienced a lot this year. When I look back, it’s broken up into so many stages for me: I dropped my mixtape on April 30, so before that there was this four month period when I was showing it to producers and labels, but no-one really knew what was going on with it ‘til March. Then there was the immediate phase after the tape dropped, when I started being recognized outside of Chicago. Then came the Space Migration part of the year, when I was on tour with Mac (Miller), fucking travelling around the entire country with some of my best friends. Then there was the European tour with Macklemore, which was crazy – I’d never even been out of the country before this year. And now I'm on own headlining tour and I’ve got a crazy band with me and a huge projector and all this crazy-ass production.
Beyond even those types of accomplishments, so much has changed. Before this year, I never had my own crib. I’d never had a job other than internships – I never worked in McDonald’s or delivering pizza or whatever – I went through my entire childhood and early adulthood without having a tangible job and now I feel like I have a real one. I’m renting a house in Los Angeles for the next six months, which is gonna be a big change for 2014. I haven’t even had my own room for eight months because I’ve been touring so much and staying in so many places.
On a personal level, I’m definitely smarter than I was at the start of the year. We all change every year and I’m still young as fuck, but I learn shit all time. Like, the geographical location of Dubai. Random shit like that. I have a better relationship with my parents and my best friends. I’m in a better place with everybody around me.
There were so many surreal moments this year, I really couldn’t pick just one. Being nominated for a BET Hip Hop Award – I nearly broke down, it’s hard to explain what that meant to me - opening for Eminem, featuring on a (Lil) Wayne album… Everything I did this year was mad unreal. It’s been fucking wild. Unfathomable"
ruffle shirt by PRADA; dragon costume stylist's own; leather cap by COMMES DES GARCONS.
hair SHINGO SHIBATA; make-up AYE YOKOMIZO; photographic assitants JEROME CORPUS, KIT LEVZARDER, KAREN GOSS; styling assistants KATELYN GRAY, JULIA SANCHIS MESEGUER.