In a healthy year for hip-hop releases, Chance the Rapper is one of the few marquee artists who hasn’t put out an album yet — and that’s perfectly okay. As one of the creatives chosen for Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players list, the 25-year-old rapper has focused his attention on his philanthropy, investing in Chicago public schools and their arts education programs. Though it has been three years since the drop of Coloring Book, he’s certainly grown more popular, with a four-pack of songs released this summer and talks of a joint album with Kanye West fueling the excitement for an impending return.
On Saturday (Sept. 29), Chance gave a firm reminder that his musicianship and his poise as a charismatic performer prove why he has such a strong connection to his fans. He was the headliner for Spotify’s RapCaviar Live at the Ford Ampitheater on the Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, which featured opening sets by Tierra Whack and Sheck Wes. A sold-out show on the same day that West was supposed to drop his album Yandhi, Chance gave a lot of love to his supporters through his gospel-influenced performance, featuring a setlist of Coloring Book favorites and more.
Chance’s energy during his concerts makes it a celebration. At around 10 p.m., the lights dimmed for Chance’s arrival, and he came out the gate with some slick dance moves and explosive fireworks to “All Night.” He kept up the same youthful exuberance throughout the night, breezing through “Blessings” and “Angels” with a smile. No matter what song came next, the crowd sang along to every word, an indicator of the many real Chance fans in attendance.
Backed by the Social Experiment, Chance took fans to church and to the dance floor. His newer songs — “Work Out,” “Walla Cam,” “I Need Security” and “65th & Ingleside” — sounded right at home with his older, fast-moving juke music. He decided KAMI’s “Reboot” was the part of the show to “turn it up,” serving as the appropriate lead-in to DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One,” where his verse about being the plug for his new muse truly got the party started. Later, for West’s “Ultralight Beam,” he made a semi-serious statement that some fans only know him for this song. Even if you were an old or new fan, it didn’t seem to matter when he restarted the performance after noticing a lack of participation: everyone was singing it loudly and it felt glorious.
After an exhilarating 45 minutes or so, he jokingly asked: “Are you ready to start the show?” That was Chance’s cue to perform “All We Got” and “No Problem,” elevated by another round of fireworks, which he enjoyed by jumping and uppercutting the air every time they went off. Then, he mellowed out the crowd with “Same Drugs,” sitting on the steps behind him to take in the view of all his fans singing. It was at this moment that he thanked everyone for sticking with him since his 10 Day mixtape.
“Ima come back to New York and Ima play another show,” he said. “Maybe it’ll be a little smaller than this, maybe at a coffee house or something, I don’t know. But just to know that some of you guys are going to be there — big or small — means the world to me. So thank you for rocking with me.”
He also shouted out Sheck Wes and Tierra Whack with encouraging words. “Yo, rock with that n—a. He’s taking New York somewhere else. I f–k with Sheck Wes. Thank you for playing this show. And thank you so much to the amazing Tierra Whack. You are a talented genius and a whole world ahead of yourself,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, Sheck Wes torn it down with his smash hits “Chippy Chippy,” “Do That,” “Live Sheck Wes, Die Sheck Wes,” and “Mo Bamba” (twice). He announced that his debut album, Mudboy, would be out in “a couple of days,” hinting at a first week of October release. He then paid homage to his Cactus Jack label boss Travis Scott by ending his set with “NO BYSTANDERS” off Astroworld.
For Tierra Whack, her 20-minute set was a quick and effective run-through of Whack World, highlighted by loud pops to “Hungry Hippo” and “Fruit Salad.” And DJ SpinKing, who was warming up the crowd all night, had a few minutes to pack in some surprise guests, bringing out Uncle Murda, Roddy Ricch, Young M.A., Jim Jones, Flipp Dinero, Pardison Fontaine, G4 Boyz and Jay Critch.
So you wouldn’t expect anything less from Chance to end with “Blessings (Reprise)” after such an eventful night. “Are you ready for your miracle? Are you ready for your blessings?” he asked, instructing fans to throw their hands up and bring them back down during the “when the praises go up, the blessings come down” refrain.
As confetti filled the air, Chance’s impromptu Sunday session was the type of worship you don’t normally see at a hip-hop show. But if you’re in the presence of an uplifting personality such as Chance, you’ll always know that his actions of spreading love come from the heart and are in good faith. You’ll leave feeling better about yourself and the world around you.