Are you ready for your blessing?

Are you ready for your miracle?

Being a fan of Chance the Rapper and living in Chicago is like knowing you’re your parents’ favorite child.

(Which I am, by the way, in case you were wondering.)
When he tweeted about Coloring Book tour dates, I knew whatever he did in Chicago would be nothing short of magical. He released tour dates earlier this year for Coloring Book, but initially left Chicago off the list as a stop. I knew better though; I knew whatever he was planning for HIS city was gonna be huge and epic and unforgettable.
#MagnificentColoringDay was just that.
#MagnificentColoringDay wasn’t just a concert, it was an entire festival. It was an event. It was food vendors from community staples, it was Harold’s Chicken and local beers.
This venue wasn’t just a venue, it was U.S. Cellular Field. It was Comiskey Park. It was the home of the White Sox. It was south South SOUTH SIDE, top to bottom.
And then, it wasn’t just a lineup. It wasn’t just an opening act followed by Chance. It wasn’t just the Social Experiment. It was a festival, remember?
The initial lineup went something like this:

festival lineup

I hadn’t dabbled in Francis and the Lights just yet, but his album hit iTunes not long after the show.
I went a little late because being old and tired is my natural state. As luck would have it, I made it just in time for Lil Uzi Vert. I’m not much of a fan personally, but the thousands of angsty teens and college-aged kids in attendance LOVED the guy. I’m a little old for Mr. Vert but it was a good move by Chance to have him there.
 Now, Young Thug was a no-show, with which I was super disappointed because I’ve recently been finessed into really liking him as a person. Tyler the Creator was next up though, and he was… fun. What was most memorable wasn’t the actual performance of his songs, but his commentary in between– Tyler periodically launched into these mini rants about how terrible some of the seats were. There were several big screens and the stage jutted out into a runway setup, but that didn’t keep Tyler from talking trash about the stadium selling us bad seats. He really seemed to be the only one mad about it though. Whatever.
Now, maybe 20 minutes after Tyler’s set ends, the DJ starts playing Kanye’s “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1.” Which is nothing really, because that’s what DJs do between sets.
Except Kanye came out. And the entire stadium WENT UP. Kids were flooding the floor area, hopping the bottom row of stadium seating and putting security on SKATES trying to catch them.
I have to admit, as much as Kanye may seem distant from us lately, I can’t deny that the man puts on for his city. And, for Chance, specifically. His set was intense-feeling, giving us a good mix of the old and the new with “All Day,” Gold Digger,” and “All Falls Down.” But his face lit up when Chance came out to do Ultralight Beam.
Which was a spiritual experience, by the way. As someone who hasn’t really felt much for his music in a while, I was SHOOK when he came out. But when I came to, I was giving the people around me every word, plus my best rapper hands and gestures.
Okay. So. On a serious note. When you live a thousand miles away from the people with which you would normally talk about the state of Blackness, a lot builds up. Below is video of what really took me out. The Kanye surprise was EPIC. But Common coming out to perform “Glory,” from the film Selma, with John Legend. At one point, Common told us to put our fists up for justice and started naming those who had been shot down by Chicago Police Department. John kept singing in that way of his that makes you think of church and grandmas and freedom and, for a moment, it felt believable that maybe all of these people get it.

An hour later, it turned into a stadium full of white kids saying “n*gga” along with Lil’ Wayne and 2 Chainz, which is always some kind of existential concert crisis for me. The two, who I completely forgot refer to themselves as “Collegrove,” gave me what I needed in “Dufflebag Boy,” “Sky Is The Limit,” “No Worries,” etc., as well as some of their joint songs that I couldn’t really identify. Because old.

Alicia Keys gives good concert. I was afraid for the vocals, but they weren’t lacking at all. I was admittedly surprised. So, yeah, I guess I’ll watch The Voice this year.

So Chance for alderman, Chance for mayor, Chance for governor, Chance for president. Because who else can get a packed out baseball stadium full of angsty teens to sing about blessings and miracles?
Over the course of this election, Chicago has been used as a buzzword by people who don’t know the city– to address gun violence, to paint a picture of war and barbaric conditions. Chance had a festival here, on the south side. He brought Kanye, he brought Common, he brought John Legend and Hannibal Buress and Deon Cole and Jimmy Butler. He debuted a new nonprofit called SocialWorks and had voter registration tables in the breezeways.
Chance talked about blessings and miracles and a message. He had a stadium full of kids and teens and families singing what many may not have known to be an old Fred Hammond sample.
Chance gives angsty, searching teens and the rest of us weird adults real joy to cling to and a concept of spirit that doesn’t divide or take from us like we’re used to.
If you need somebody to believe in, in a year like this one, at a time like this one, Chance the Rapper is that somebody.