Chance The Rapper is up for several Grammys in February, the result of a torrid year in which he charted on the Billboard 200 with a mixtape, Coloring Book, and played Saturday Night Live multiple times.
Amazingly, Chance has attained this level of high-profile commercial success without the major label engine puppeteering his career. The Chicago native has remained independent by choice, of course, and it appears to be paying him major dividends. So, as Chance told ABC, it was quite uncomfortable when he had to tell Kanye West, his friend, mentor and inspiration, that he too had to respect Chance’s wishes to remain unsigned.
In a recent interview with Zane Lowe, Chance revealed that he’d once declined a label offer from Kanye West, presumably to become a part of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music, the Def Jam imprint that houses Pusha T, Desiigner and Big Sean. In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Chance elaborated. “It’s not easy at all, definitely not telling Kanye,” he started. “It’s definitely hard keeping that resistance, but I want to teach people that it’s doable without.”
It’s a sentiment that West should be familiar with. He spent a good chunk of his pre-College Dropout days trying earnestly to convince Jay Z and Dame Dash that his unorthodox way of doing things, from production to fashion, was viable. Chance, who’s already an inspiration to many, is adamant about doing things the independent way. “I wanted to give the idea of freedom back to artists and one of the biggest things is control of how you release your music. So, streaming and free releases—I figured that’d be a good beacon to have people at least pick up on what i was doing as an independent artist.”
Regardless, Chance and Kanye worked closely together all year, especially early on. In February, Chance contributed to several songs on The Life of Pablo, and played SNL with Kanye. In May, another collaboration surfaced, this time on Chance’s Coloring Book. The two reportedly have more music in store.