One of the most memorable lines on Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” came from Chance The Rapper’s penning of the lyrics “Let's do a good ass job with Chance three.
I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy.
Let's make it so free and the bars so hard
that there ain't one gosh darn part you can't tweet.” The project referenced in the song as “Chance Three” came in the form of Chance’s third mixtape “Coloring Tape” released on May 12th. By May 16th the second part of his line on Kanye’s album came to fruition when Chance revealed every lyric from the mixtape had been tweeted by fans. His first goal of “snatching” a Grammy would be significantly harder to accomplish.
At the time of Chance’s release of “Coloring Book”, the Grammy association didn’t allow “streaming only” releases to be eligible for nomination. Considering that Chance the Rapper has made it a point of his to make all of his music entirely free through streaming, this meant his music was never able to achieve the recognition it deserved from the Grammy association.
After “Coloring Book” became the first streaming-exclusive album to chart on the Billboard 200 at No. 8, petitions were signed and angry blog posts written by fans in order to change the rules regarding eligibility for Grammy consideration. The hard work of fans and the overwhelming success of Chance’s mixtape, finally concluded with a ruling allowing Grammy eligibility for streaming only albums. After taking out a few ads in Billboard magazine, Chance’s goal which he rapped about in February came within reach when he received seven Grammy nominations including “Best Rap Song and Best New Artist” this last week.
The music industry has been evolving drastically over the last few years. Every tradition and norm of the industry has been challenged and it is about time the Grammy’s valued the innovation of the industry over tradition. Recording Academy President Neil Portnow released a statement to The Times in which he is quoted as saying, “We need to be, want to be and believe we are up to the moment and as accurate as possible in the reflection of the year in music. We never want to be in a position where music that deserves to be in the mix is usurped by some technicality in the process”.
The Grammys, a staple of music tradition, recognizing the transformation of the music industry signifies a new era for the musician. Upon news of the Grammys ruling Chance tweeted, “The victory this morning isn't about me, it's about all the Soundcloud albums that may now be recognized for excellence.”
The champion of independent artists everywhere seems to be leading an entirely new era of artists who value quality over notoriety. Chance’s achievement of success by creating a quality product, believing in it, and offering it to the public as a gift has challenged every tradition previously known and afforded him the opportunity to meet with President Obama to end racial injustice, provide 1,000 coats to homeless Chicagoans, perform a tribute to Muhammed Ali at the Espy’s, as well as a performance in front of the President at this year’s White House Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Ten years ago it would have been unheard of to predict that an artist would achieve this level of success without ever signing to a record label or releasing a physical copy of his work. Chance’s accomplishments, culminating in this recognition by The Grammys, has opened the door for future artists to achieve such levels of success entirely on their own terms. By putting the focus back on quality music, Chance has started the ball rolling on re-revolutionizing the music industry.