Updated Nov. 18, 2015.
Most of us didn't hear about Chance the Rapper (born Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, in 1993) until 2013, when his "Acid Rap" mixtape droppped and captivated the world. (That made a lot of sense, because it was the best mixtape of 2013.) But the young Chicago rapper had been at it for a few years before then, distributing tracks and his "10 Day" mixtape, quickly building a local audience and slowly expanding.
Then "Acid Rap" came and blew everyone's mind. Chance's exuberant, joyful, hopeful and singular sound was easily contrasted with the dominant Chicago drill rap narrative of the day, namely the nihilism of rappers like Chief Keef. Chance offered a different, much-needed perspective — and, thanks to his backing band, the Social Experiment, there were even horns!
Chance's career took off fast. He played Lollapalooza in 2013 (and in 2014 and in 2015). Thanks (or, no thanks) to bootleg versions, his "Acid Rap" mixtape landed on the Billboard charts without there being an actual physical release. In 2014, Chance was named an XXL Freshman; the next year he was included in Forbes' 30 Under 30 list. (Not to mention our own 30 Best Rappers Under 30 list.)
Chance has since toured the world with his Social Experiment band, which released the "Surf" album in 2015. He shared a stage with Kendrick Lamar at Bonnaroo. He headlined Pitchfork Music Festival. He made a song with Justin Bieber ("Confident"), and the two shared the stage at Coachella. He's worked with Lil Wayne and Childish Gambino and Lil B. He shared a stage at Red Bull Sound Select: 30 Days in LA with Big Sean. He's all over the place and he's only just getting started.
In October 2015, Chance played a new song, "Angels," on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." By the end of 2015, he will have performed on "Saturday Night Live." It's only a matter of time before a new mixtape or album comes — he recently teased the highly anticipated follow-up to "Acid Rap" at a concert in Austin — and who knows how big Chance will become once that happens.
In the meantime, here's a list of Chance the Rapper's five best songs. There's not much to choose from at the moment, but we did it anyway.
In the upbeat "Acid Rap" single "Juice," Chance raps about how much juice he has. It was one of the first songs many of us heard from him, and he sounded so darn happy and confident it was contagious and it made us thirsty for more. He had the juice — lots of it — and in the "Juice" video, he danced around in Times Square, flaunting all that juice.
4. "Cocoa Butter Kisses" (with Vic Mensa and Twista)
With fellow Chicago rappers Vic Mensa and Twista supporing him, Chance rapped about the old days and love and his mom and his grandmother and Chuck E. Cheese pizza and being spanked on "Cocoa Butter Kisses," from "Acid Rap." He can pack a lot of color and detail and life into a verse, and this tune proved that.
3. "Favorite Song" (with Childish Gambino)
Rappers don't normally rap about hacky sacks and Rascall Flats, but Chance did just that on this track featuring actor/rapper Childish Gambino. It's a song about his favorite song, and it's probably one of your favorite songs from "Acid Rap."
Chance raps a lot about the past (and the present and the future, to be honest). This tune from his "10 Days" mixtape shows him waxing nostalgic and sharing details from his life. He's not afraid to get intimate.
1. "Chain Smoker"
This one might make you cry tears of joy. It's about how Chance wants us to love him and his music, and how life is too short and every moment is precious. "I play this so loud in the car, I forgot to park my whip," goes the chorus. Play it loud, but maybe make sure to park the whip, too.