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Interview: Chance the Rapper Talks Grammys and More with GQ

Chance the Rapper GQ

It has just been announced that Chance the Rapper will be headlining this years’ Bonaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. He is also covering the February issue of GQ Magazine talking about everything from The Grammy Awards, Fatherhood, Trump as President and more. GQ also sits down with Chano in the studio to talk influences, inspiration and more. Take a look at some of what he has to say below and read the full article over at GQ.

Chance GQ

GQ: Your name, Chance the Rapper, is funny. A generational joke, in a way. But you’re nominated for seven Grammys. People are saying you’re going to be one of the greatest to ever do it.
CHANCE THE RAPPER: [laughs] I can super appreciate all that pressure. I’ll take that.

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GQ: Your name seems more temporary than your talent, though. It’s too silly, in a way. Do you ever think about changing it or just going by Chance?
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. I think it’s everything that you’re saying, but going in the opposite direction. My dad used to always say, “You need to change your name to Chance the Artist. This song, this is different.” I remember one day I was with Justin—my best friend, who has always been really good at school, really smart, really good at speaking to people. I remember my dad would introduce us to folks and they would ask, “What’re you going to be when you grow up?” Justin’s fucking 7 years old talking about, “I’m going to be a biomedical engineer.” You know, he’s just that guy. And I remember they asked me, and I said a rapper. And my dad laughed it off, like, “No, he doesn’t…” You know?

And I remember that shit used to bother the fuck out of me, because I thought Kanye West was the smartest man in the world. The best poet in the world. The freshest-dressed in the world. That’s what a rapper was to me, and I wanted everybody to feel that way about the word “rapper.” And “rapper,” to me, is pretty much synonymous with the word “black.” It’s a stigma where it’s like, “Damn, I heard Chance the Rapper. I didn’t think he was going to sound like that.” I hate that when you introduce yourself, and you’re a rapper, sometimes you gotta say, “I’m a musician.” Or, “I’m an artist.” “I’m a recording artist.” “I’m a vocalist.”

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GQ: Why the cap?
CHANCE THE RAPPER: I used to always rock a cap when I was in high school and get them taken away. It was an excessive amount. Like, so often that at the end of each school year, there would be a box of all the confiscated caps. After they gave back a few caps to other kids, they would just give me the box because the rest were all my hats. So I think, in one part, it’s a rebellion. There are a few things that I have because I’m a man-child. Like I don’t eat vegetables at all. Never. I hate eating vegetables. The only vegetables I eat are lettuce on a burger.

GQ: And now the “3” hat is everywhere.
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah, so I was like, “You know what? Let’s switch it.” I wanted to switch from the White Sox hat. I wanted to put something else on the hat. And so I decided to do “3.” I just thought that that made the most sense because it was the third project. Also, I was having a lot of trouble figuring out what the title of the project was going to be and what typography to put the title in. The original title for the project was, uh, The Magnificent Coloring Book. But that’s just so many words and it looks so shitty, no matter how I put it on the hat.

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GQ: I find that interesting with you. Because you idolize Kanye. Nobody’s less—

GQ: Right. And less presentable. Does that make it easier for you to do or say the wrong thing?
CHANCE THE RAPPER: I don’t think I ever wanted to be like Kanye in personality, though. I think I definitely want to, have always wanted to, have his boldness or assurance in myself. But I’ve definitely seen Kanye do things where I was like, “I’d never do that.” I’ve always been able to defend Kanye. When everybody’s like, “Kanye’s a nut, Kanye’s a nut,” I’m one of those guys saying, “No, he’s saying some real shit.” Like when he went onstage with Taylor, I was like…well…Beyoncé kind of deserved that. [laughs] I’m rationalizing everything that he does, but I can’t say that in the same position I would do the same things. Being around Kanye, Kanye says crazier shit in private than he does in public, which is hard to believe because he says the craziest things in public. He does have a filter. He’s not a liar or somebody that is going to sugarcoat things when he does speak. But Kanye’s said some crazy shit to me where I respond, “No, I don’t feel you at all.” I always wanted to be more of a person that people enjoy. Somebody that will make you laugh. I’m talking about just my personality, not necessarily how my music sounds. Because I believe I’m a disrupter like Kanye in a lot of ways.

GQ: Yeah. Seven Grammy noms with no label is pretty disruptive.
CHANCE THE RAPPER: You know what I’m saying?! I get that from Ye. But I get my personality and my character and my understanding of how I respond to people and how I work with people and how I present my opinions—I get that from my dad.

GQ: How important are the Grammys—to music, and to Chance the Rapper?
CHANCE THE RAPPER: I think the Grammys are super important to music. As a musician, I think it’s the same thing as an actor receiving an Oscar. Do I think that the Grammys are always fully representative of a person’s talent? No. Just like Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t get an Oscar until this past year. And he’s been doing his fucking thing. But I think everybody wants validation, everybody wants to feel like they did right. And I think the nominations are my victory. You know?

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GQ: I can’t imagine you in a rap beef. Do you think that’ll ever happen? You going diss for diss with some rapper?
CHANCE THE RAPPER: I don’t see it ever happening. You know, I take my fucking raps so seriously that I don’t write raps without having a purpose for them anymore. I can’t write raps without having a beat and having an understanding of what I’m going to do with that song. I have to know what I’m going to do with that track when I’m done. I can’t see myself ever having somebody say something about me on a song and me being like, “All right, now I’m about to say something about them on a song.”

GQ: Have you ever purchased a chain?
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Like a rapper chain? Never. Nothing ever from an expensive jeweler. Nah. Hell nah. That’s not me.