"Chancelor Bennett I'm proud of you". How many times do you think the three time GRAMMY award winner known to us as Chance The Rapper hears that a day? I imagine daily from his mother, weekly from a friend, bi-weekly from his little brother (because they probably alternate weeks of praise, as Taylor Bennett is ordering his own steps ), every three days from his love, and daily from a passerby on the street. And much deserved. In the last two years, Chance has co-founded a project to give 1,000 coats to Chicago's homeless, sponsored anti-violence campaigns for Chicago's youth on Memorial Day, debuted a song about violence in Chicago on one of the biggest late night platforms in the country, brought Kanye West and Vic Mensa to Chicago's public school youth, and revitalized the Chicago festival scene. Not to mention he organized the largest parade to to the polls, was on the most recent cover of ESPN The Magazine, and released a joint EP with Chicago's own, Jeremih . Oh, and those GRAMMYs, if you are into that sort of thing.
Yes, Chance The Rapper is one of those artists that not only creates amazing work, but lives passionately. He has the forthrightness of the Old Kanye, the charm of Muhammad Ali, the endurance of Harry Belafonte (I mean the man just released a mixtape last week at 90), and the humility of J. Cole. Everything he does exudes a thoughtfulness and follow through that social media activism sometimes lacks. The 23 years old comes prepared to repair what he didn't break with research and receipts. Though he has the means to ensure that the despair of Chicago doesn't affect his family, he never ignores the plight of Chicago. Every event, every project, every performance, every tweet, is a love letter to Chicago. "For Chicago". The media and our current government might be treating Chicago like a war torn country removed from the United States, but Chance won't let the city that was once one of the meccas of the great Southern migration be forgotten, or its children.
This is why, when Illinois state Governor Bruce Rauner took to twitter to praise the Chicagoan for winning big in what has come to be known the ultimate music achievement, Chance used his voice to ask for a meeting with him to talk about the plight of Chicago's schools. Rauner obliged, and the two met last week though the Governor, currently being sued along with other state officials for misappropriation of funds in Chicago's school system, still has a lot of convincing to do if he wants Chance and the city of Chicago to believe that he has the best interest of all his voters, and most importantly, the children. Chicago public schools are facing closing three weeks earlier than usual due to lack of funds.
Though not resolved, Chance remains hopeful sending this tweet:
"Chicago Public Schools and I did not lose today," he wrote. "Please don't let that become the narrative. Monday morning I'll have a plan."
Thoughhe weight of Chicago is not Chance's responsibility alone, I look forward to hearing his plan today, and helping to mobilize any efforts to make sure kids receive the best schooling not only in Chicago, but DC, NY, and cities around the country. Plan with me on Instagram and twitter.