Chance The Rapper Opens Up About The Many Blessings Of Fatherhood (Video)
At just 23, Chance The Rapper has become one of the most successful rappers of today, even if nontraditionally. The 3-time Grammy Award winner has yet to make any financial profit from selling any of his music, thus far a body of work consisting of three mixtapes: 10 Day, Acid Rap, and Coloring Book. Nevertheless, he has become a superstar and has become the de facto posterboy for independent artists, at least in Hip-Hop. From his political activism to his various advertising campaigns, his face (and words) are hard to miss these days, and although he has yet to release a debut album in the traditional sense, Chancelor Bennett has already left his mark on the industry.
One of his most important achievements thus far has little to do with his music career, however. He recently became a father to Kinsley, a daughter he had in 2015 and whose very existence is changing the way he views not only his success, but also his own family and the greater world around him. In an interview for Complex’s latest cover story, the Chicago artist sat down with Noah Callahan-Bever for an in-depth and personal conversation about being a dad and all of its accompanying lessons. It’s the subject which kicks off the interview, with Bever explaining that he, too, is now a father. After asking his guest what being “the world’s best dad” means, Chance is quick to make it about his own father. “Well, I have the world’s best dad currently. Most of the stuff that he showed me has been his dedication, his time management, his commitment to being truthful. It’s all about what he’s instilled in me,” he says. Of what he aspires to embody for his own child, Chance says “I wanna have the type of relationship where I’m a trusted figure beyond a dad. I wanna be a good friend and a good example” [1:00].
Naturally, being a parent changed Chance’s perspective on what his own parents went through while raising both him and his younger brother, Taylor Bennett. In a sentiment that likely will echo with millions of millennials, Chance explains that he now feels a closer connection with his mom and dad, and is in fact thinking of moving back in with them. “I think, anybody, if they were in my position—if they were 23 with a kid for the first time and were working—they would find comfort in being able to stay with their parents,” he says. “There was never a point, ever, in my life where I can remember loving someone as much or more than I love my mom until I met my daughter. So, it made me understand that my mom loves me more than she loves anybody in the world, and that’s crazy to me. So of course I wanna be around her” [2:08].
The cyclical nature of generational perspective is a recent influence on Chance’s view of what young parenting looks like, too. When thinking about his teenaged years and how his parents worried about him, he says “I’m realizing, ‘Oh shit, my kids are probably gonna try and sneak out and smoke dope and argue with teachers or do whatever.’ And my parents probably did the same thing.” However, rather than view the impending worry as a negative, Chance says he actually looks forward to it, in a way. “It’s kind of sobering. To a certain extent, it’s just gonna keep going. I’m gonna have kids, my kids are gonna have kids, and so on and so forth. But, there’s also a lot of beauty in it and something romantic about it” [3:06].
But it wasn’t always a romantic ideal. In fact, he shares with Bever that his first reaction to finding out he was going to be a dad was “Holy shit.” “I think most people go into denial, if you’re a dude. You know what I’m saying? I’m not shy in saying it: I didn’t expect to become a father when I was 22,” he explains in a particularly vulnerable moment of the interview. At the time of the life-changing news, he had not yet begun work on his Grammy-winning Coloring Book, and he says he “was in limbo, kind of.” Explaining that he was “still figuring everything out,” Chance shares he “was scared and I was in denial, but every day it became a little easier. I’m talking pre-having a baby — because after having a baby it just gets harder.” However, he was able to find his way to acceptance, and even joy, as the pregnancy wore on. “I went from a place of just rejecting it, to not just being optimistic but beckoning it, like, ‘I’m ready to have this baby. Let’s fucking go!'” [4:08]
Bever and Chance also discuss their experiences being in the delivery room during their children’s births, with both men admitting to shedding tears. After witnessing Kinsley’s first breath, Chance says “It opened my eyes to understanding, like, the other side of death. I knew people that had kids; a lot of my friends had kids when they were young. But I had never experienced joy like that before.” He continues, “I’ve been to a lot of funerals in my life—I didn’t realize it was a lot until I realized Chicago is different than a lot of places. Seeing the antithesis of that and all of this light and joy made me be able to say things that I could never say on record. I couldn’t say I swear my life was perfect on Acid Rap, because my life wasn’t perfect” [6:10].
Once the time came to begin working on Coloring Book, Chance had a new baby and his then-girlfriend in tow, which made the recording process unique. “we camped out at the studio with, like, 17 air mattresses in this huge building. My daughter and the mother of my child were also staying at the studio with me in a room on a terribly uncomfortable inflatable mattress. Trying to build a home inside of a studio—it’s impossible,” he explains. But that experience has certainly enriched the quality moments he gets to spend with his daughter when he’s “off the clock.” “Going around your family or around her mother’s family and having them interact and having kids around, and really just delving into family life, is so fucking dope and so separate from any joy that you can experience being creative,” says Chance before adding “Anything you create, it’s secondary. It’s a reflection to what is actually going on. Existence is the most beautiful thing, and when you really get to experience life with your kid, you know—you know!” [7:20]
Other subjects discussed in this revealing interview are how his fame has altered his ability to socialize (“Going to parties is different. I used to be the most outgoing person at a party”), Kanye West’s artistic genius (“He writes stuff that is painfully funny and painfully true”), his relationship with anxiety (“I’m starting to get a better understanding of that part of my life, [ but] I’m scared of medication and shit like that”), and why he might charge for his first full-fledged album.