Beyond winning Grammys and dropping fire records, Chance The Rapper‘s main priority is being the best family man he can be.
For Complex‘s latest cover story, the Chicago rap hero goes deep about fatherhood, and how having a daughter has flipped his perspective on life, as well as his relationship with his own parents. He talks about coping with anxiety, an idea that he is just becoming more familiar with, as both a black man who never discussed health issues while growing up and as a Christian.
The MC also expands on the line from his Grammy-winning cut “No Problem” about record labels trying to stop him, and hypothesizes about selling his forthcoming album, whatever it may be.
Below are some highlights from the in-depth conversation:
On his relationship with his parents after having a child:
“I’m in a unique position, but a lot of the things you would think you would get past, because of the quote-unquote successes that I’ve had, I’m honestly in real life thinking about moving in with my parents right now. A lot of other people, if they were in my situation, if they were 23 and had a kid for the first time and were working, they would find comfort in staying with their parents if their parents were willing. I guess that’s what it all comes down to.”
“I’m in a position where I want to be closer to my parents now because I realize how important that is. There was never a point in my life where I could ever remember loving somebody as much or more than my mom until I met my daughter, and so it made me understand — my mom loves me more than she loves anybody in the world, and that’s crazy to me.
On finding out he was going to be a father:
“I think most people go into denial — if you’re a dude. I’m not shy in saying it, I didn’t expect to become a father when I was 22 and it had a huge impact on what I was doing — I was touring a lot and I was trying to figure out where I was gonna go in the world. At the time, I hadn’t started on Coloring Book yet, I was working on Surf. I was about to release Surf when I found out.”
“I had never experienced joy like that before… Delving into family life is so f–kin’ dope and so separate from any joy that you can receive being creative.”
On his Grammy wins:
“When you win a Grammy, you don’t get to take it home … It’s so important to look at everything like milestones, and not the grand achievement. I never made music so that I could win Grammys or so that i could play SNL or so that i could throw a festival. Those are all really, really important things, but checkpoints along the road to heaven.”
On Kanye West’s genius:
“‘Ye is like a comedian in a lot of ways. He writes stuff that is painfully funny and painfully true, and that’s why you respect comedy and that’s why you respect his work. His best lines are just lines that are funny, whether it’s like a word being mispronounced, or a weird take on something that a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily say out loud, or not making light of, but in a clever way — exposing something that’s socially wrong.”
On being an anxious person:
“Yeah, definitely, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily more than anybody else. Anxiety is also something I’m now just being exposed to. It’s a really big conversation and idea I’m being introduced to now… for a long time, that wasn’t a thing we talked about. I don’t remember people talking about anxiety… I’m scared of medication. I like to smoke weed and shit to chill out, but now that I’ve gone through so many different stages in a short period of time, like really just high school through now, I’m not really trying to try no new drugs, even if they’re prescribed. I’m chilling.”
“I don’t ever want to convince myself that I’m hindered by anything in any of my experiences because I also believe in G-O-D.”
On being an independent artist:
“In order for me to contribute to thrive, I need more artists to do it themselves. I try and stress this as often as possible. I don’t mean [literally] do it by yourself — in a cool way, you can bring on your friends and professionals that you or your friends know, and build a business where you’re the upper management, you’re the creative and last decision maker, and you don’t ever have to feel compromised.
Labels should legally have to release a list of names of all the people they have signed. Because if you knew how many artists are in deals with any label… I’m not trying to get specific, but any label, you’d be like who the f–k is this? Why did you sign this person seven years ago and their debut album is still shelved? Why don’t I know anything about this artist? I don’t wanna see people keep going through that. I also want to see myself thrive. I’d like to be proof that it works.
You sign to a label, you get a boss, and that shit’s f–ked up to me. Like, why should you have a boss?”
On how record labels have tried to block his shine:
“Push me out of headline positions so that their artist could be a headliner, or not cleared songs, and you know, it works on both sides, so samples on certain songs didn’t get cleared.”
“It’s not like a big conspiracy theory. It’s also n—-s wanted to make money off me and I said no … Also, yeah, in the past, I’ve told people they shouldn’t sign with certain people, and it’s not ’cause I want them to sign with somebody else. It’s just I met that person and they’re not good people. So I tell them that, and when they hear that back, then they tell other people bad shit about me. The cool thing is the shit about me ain’t true, so I’m not worried and shit, but it is a little bit of a high school thing. The industry is very gossipy, and who hangs with who and who signs to who and stuff like that.”
On potentially selling his next album:
“I might actually sell this album. That’s a big step in itself. And I hate the fact that I can’t chart really — I can chart, but the way they have the stream shit set up is weak as f–k. It’s unfair. It’s like 1500, 1700 streams is equivalent to one unit. That’s unfair — nobody listens to their songs 1700 times when they buy it. F–k outta here. It makes it hard. I can’t compete with other people. Not that the charts matter at all, but come on.
Anyways, I think having it for purchase would be dope — and this is all hypothetical, there is no album. This is an idea. I have songs recorded but I’m not working on a Coloring Book or an Acid Rap… I want to make something that’s kind of wider-scope. 10 Day was all about getting suspended, Acid Rap was a lot about acid, Coloring Book was a lot about being a father and God, and I think whatever this album is, it wouldn’t be so centered. Whatever my next thing will be, it’ll be a bit bigger.”