For TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list, Common wrote an entry dedicated to the Coloring Book rapper, recalling the time his grandmother asked for a favor that involved Lil Chano.
“Years ago, my grandmother asked me to call her friend’s grandson. ‘I want you to give him some words of encouragement,’ she said. ‘He wants to be a rapper.’ She gave me his number, and I left him a message,” Common wrote. “I told him to keep following his dreams. Then I forgot all about it.”
It wasn’t until years later, when Common’s teenage daughter played him a new mixtape from an artist named Chance the Rapper, that he put two and two together. “There was something unique and soulful about it — I could tell he really knew hip-hop. And when I first met him, I realized that he knew me too. ‘You won’t remember this,’ he said, ‘but you called me when I was a kid.’”
Chance The Rapper, who recently turned 24, has not only become one of hip-hop’s most innovative MCs — he remains an independent artist who insists on releasing his music for few with a few Grammys to his name — he also gives back to his Chicago community.
Common continued, “Chance upends expectations about what artists, especially hip-hop artists, can do. He streams his albums instead of selling them. He makes music from an unapologetically inspiring and Christian perspective — music that transcends age, race and gender. He gives back to his Chicago community. And he does it all as an independent artist, without the support of a label.”
“I’m glad Chance followed his dreams. I hope he always does.”
See the full TIME list here.