Ask Chance The Rapper if he’s a Christian rapper, like the ladies of The View recently did and he’ll respond, “I wouldn’t say I make gospel rap or Christian rap but I am a Christian rapper. I am a Christian.” Yet, when he performed his headlining set on Friday night at Governors Ball (June 2) on New York’s Randall’s Island, the 23-year-old Chicago rapper made the stage his pulpit.
After riding on a motorbike to “Mixtape” (the Lil Yachty collaboration off his 2016 offering Coloring Book) for his entrance, Chance quickly brought the gospel and sampled his Be Encouraged tour with performances of “Blessings,” “Angels,” the Surf cut “Sunday Candy” and his version of the Kanye West The Life of Pablo track “Waves” (he also dipped into “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” and “Ultralight Beam.”) While performing “All We Got,” he even remixed a line, offering, “Jesus is all I got.” Throw in the saintly vocals from his backup singers, ThirdStory, and the God-given talents of his live band, the Social Experiment — comprised of Nico Segal (f.k.a. Donnie Trumpet), Peter Cottontale, and Stix — and Friday night turned into Sunday service.
That’s not to say that the young rap pastor’s spiritually cleansing set was Bible anecdotes or preachy bars shoved down his fans’ throats. He merely represented positivity his own way. Before launching into “No Problem,” Chance offered, “I could tell there’s a lot of fearless people in the crowd tonight and I wanna represent for all the fearless n—as.” Fearless appropriately describes the independent MC, who has managed to finesse his own business endeavors — his Apple Music deal for Coloring Book last year, Kit Kat commercials — and win Grammys while also giving away his music for free.
All the hustle and humility didn’t keep Chance from setting the party off on the Gov Ball NYC stage. He body rolled for “Smoke Break” and rocked a Gucci belt for a performance of his verse off DJ Khaled‘s star-studded Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper “I’m The One.” He even took it back to his breakout ‘tape, 2013’s Acid Rap, with “Lost” before asking the crowd, “Is it too early to start turning up?” He then prompted attendees to jump once he revved up his Childish Gambino collaboration “Favorite Song.”
After popping up on the Bacardi Stage for close friend Francis and the Lights‘ afternoon set earlier in the day, Chance brought out Francis for his set as they nailed yet another take of their routine from “May I Have This Dance,” their hip-swaying collaboration on Francis’ debut Farewell, Starlite! Chance let the good times roll on with “All Night” before slowing down the tempo once more for an emotional rendition of “Same Drugs.” He then brought his set full-circle when he ended on the heavenly high note “Blessings” complete with a harmonious riff-off with Ty Dolla $ign. Chance also thanked his supporters for riding with him, hoping to return the favor. “Thank you for being there for me,” he said at one point, “and I hope to be there for you too.”