Chance the Rapper is trying to save Chicago.
As if his motherland-infused, jazz inspired songs and anthems aren’t enough, Chance the Rapper is trying to motivate Chicago’s youth to make better choices as well. However, he’s doing it in ways that don’t directly address decision-making; Chance is using his platform to lead the youngins by influence. If philanthropy is promoting the welfare of others, Chance is doing just that by providing safe spaces for kids and teens to be their creative selves.
In just the first half of this year, Chance has had a hand in rebooting the very open mic show that earned him the moniker “Mr. YOUmedia,” after the organization itself. Chance and poet Malcolm London set out to fill the void left by the passing of the show’s original host Mike Hawkins. While plenty of big names have come to show the program love– Chance, Vic Mensa, Kanye West– the weekly open mic is centered on and limited to performances by the area’s high school students. OpenMike, as it’s called, is a place where high school students can sing, dance, rap, and spit poetry, among many other talents.
“Brother Mike cultivated a space that provided alternatives … Who’s to say out of a group of 500 kids, what 100 will create the next community of artists?” -Malcolm London
In addition to re-establishing creative space by way of OpenMike, Chance and Malcolm also put together TIPfest, a free teens-only (ages 13-24) music festival held just a few weeks ago. For absolutely no cost, area teens were able to see Chance, Donnie Trumpet and Kendrick Lamar as a part of the inaugural three-hour event. From the looks of the #TIPfest hashtag, the kids appear to be super excited for what the event could become in the years ahead.
“In addition to the music, there (was) a slew of activity tents, hosted by The Art Institute and Donda’s House (the arts non-profit founded in memory of Kanye West’s mom), offering lessons in graffiti art, break dancing, jewelry making and fashion design.” -Shira Karsen, Billboard
As a former North Chicago resident, I really appreciate Chance’s efforts to provide creative spaces for young people. Too many people focus on high crime rates in the city, not realizing that crime is only a symptom of poverty and a lack of opportunity. I appreciate when big names step up in their communities, and I know it’s got to be inspiring for the teens involved. What makes me even more excited is the fact that it seems Chance fully intends to continue the work. Keep an eye out for what they’re doing by following Chance and Malcolm on Twitter, and be inspired to create for the youth in your area.