He’s your progressive Christian friend’s favorite rapper. And I’m lowkey bothered by that.
Thoughts brew inside of me about the relationship between White Progressive Christians and Chance The Rapper. Thoughts that are all over the place, to be honest. Thoughts that are incomplete, really.
I’m trying to figure out how did all of this happen. The performance at the Grammy’s earlier this year was all it took? That’s it?
I get it. He declared God on music’s biggest stage. He declared his religious freedom in a moment where it’s almost passe’ to do so.
Maybe it’s because he’s digestible. He isn’t Kendrick Lamar, who raps just as much about his faith as any “secular” rapper in the game. But Kendrick is “aggressive” about it and can make you feel not a part of his world? You can’t participate?
Then I think about Lecrae. Is he “too Christian” for you? He was at CCO last year so he’s part of the “system” too? He’s too declarative? Your Christian-adverse friends would never like him? Even after he declared that Black Lives Matter and some Christians were upset? He’s a rebel! Like you!
I used to listen to Chance a lot. 2012–2013 Chance. 10 Day and Acid Rap Chance. Druggie Chance. He didn’t exist on the musical landscape to most people up to that point but he just started his trajectory toward being one of the biggest names in the genre.
He was a rebel in the industry. Every label wanted him, he refused to sign. He knew he could do it all with his own team. And he blew up. Like he said, if one more label tries to sign him, awaits them will be dreadhead n*ggas in the lobby.
That’s my favorite part of “No Problem”.
But I haven’t listened to any of Chance’s new stuff at all. Even as a Christian. And a Black person. A Christian and a Black person that loves hip-hop. I should be prime for everything he’s throwing at me.
But I’m not. I rather listen to Kendrick. I rather lend LeCrae my ear.
The funny thing about Lecrae for me is that I used to not listen to him because I felt that “Christian rapper” thing that most people did. But then he wasn’t afraid to step out into the world, which I know is a lot. He’s no label, metaphorically, like Chance. You can’t box him in. He’s him. Unapologetic.
Which is hip-hop at its core. And so is Chance for that matter.
But there’s something about seeing an artist get lauded for being a pioneer for Christian rap when he definitely wasn’t the first. Or the only. Or the last. Frankly, that pissed me off.
That’s what happened to Chance. It became “I’ve never seen someone like Chance before!” Yes, you have. Rap has never shied away from faith. Even Jay’s new album, 4:44, has moments of lament and clarity.
I don’t know, man. I’m bothered.
And I can’t really figure it all out.
This is part of my attempt to write every day in July. You can follow the series here.