If you are anywhere on social media, you’ve by now heard about Chance the Rapper (from Chicago, hey Chicago!) and his most generous gift of $1,000,000 to the Chicago Public School system foundation to help preserve arts and music education. I follow him on Twitter and watched the press conference live.
Why does a single Mom of 2 follow Chance? I’m glad you asked.
About 2 years ago, my son E. who’s always listening to some form of rap/hip hop, got put on to Chance. That’s right in line with the life a teenager: eat everything in my kitchen, and listen to hip hop. But after the release of Chance’s Coloring Booking mixtape in 2016, E. started coming to me asking could he play this song or that one for me. Now I’ve requested to hear what he’s listening to, and I’ve been grateful for the old school hip hop I already knew and could sing along to, but he had never been excited for me to hear “his” music. Until Chance. Chance was hip hop he could blare with his Mom. It was music he could be proud of. It was music he knew, even if I didn’t like all the language, that the message was one I could get with; and he was right. It was music a good kid could relate to. Chance rapped with a message and integrity, and it was something my son wanted to share with me. And that is when Chance got me; initially.
Flash forward to August of 2016, and I agreed to take my son and his friend to the Chance Coloring Book Tour at White Sox Stadium (yes, I know that’s not the official name, but I’m a south sider and you’re lucky I didn’t call it Comiskey). It was the longest concert of my life, even longer than that time I saw Parliament at the Cubby Bear December 1993; them old dudes have endurance! I saw everyone from Kanye, Tyler the Creator, 2Chainz and Weezy, Common (sigh) and…Chance. And he was more phenomenal in person than on his mixtape. He put effort into telling his story, showing himself and exuding gratitude. His music had grit, street, hood and faith and I was there (screaming and singing) for it. That was when Chance became “Nephew Chance”. Shout out to my real nephew, who I think is a true soldier in his own right.
So when this 24 year old young man, with no record deal and probably not yet baller money, uses his Grammy opportunity to speak with the governor of his state, I wasn’t surprised because he’s always talked about Chicago, and the kids and opportunity. When he pledged $1,000,000 to a broken school system, entrenched in mismanaged funds and the most heinous political environment ever, in order to help Chicago’s most valuable resource, I beamed with pride. At first. Then the adopted Auntie in me was a little angry that a young citizen, successful though he may be, felt he had to dig into his personal money and help where it seemed no one whose actual job it is (#doyourjob) was helping. Chance has called upon other famous Chicagoans to “return my calls”, and pitch in some too. Again, pride for my adopted nephew, and anger at the system that requires all of this altruism and philanthropy. Chicago is the 3rd largest school district in the country, not some ballet troupe in need of a new practice space. My property taxes, your lottery tickets and millions in federal funding are supposed to cover the cost of public education, not Lil Chano from 79th. But he’s trying, and Auntie is proud. And my 15 yr old son is proud: and to me, that’s everything.
Follow Chance @chancetherapper on Twitter, or visit his foundation, SocialWorks at socialworkschi.org
Follow me at that Starbucks on 35th , or @coffeeinmyleft