Chance made the declaration during his Dillard University commencement speech.
Chance The Rapper delivered a rousing commencement speech at Dillard University in New Orleans Saturday, where he offered graduates some inspiring words while solidifying his membership in the Beyhive. During the speech, Chance declared Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella set surpassed all of Michael Jackson’s performances.
The 25-year-old rapper, who was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the university, urged the graduates to aim to surpass their predecessors and invoked Beyoncé as an example.
“Beyoncé’s performance was better than any performance Michael Jackson ever did,” he said. “That woman, better than Mike. Black woman, better than Mike. I said it!… We have to erase the fear and stigma behind eclipsing our heroes.”
“Generations of little black kids have been mesmerized before the TV screen or YouTube, watching as Mike seemed to do the impossible. One of those little black kids would grow up to be someone especially amazing,” he said. “She would do more than just copy Mike. She would surpass him. And now, I’m going to tell you about the greatest performance put on by the greatest performer of all time, and it wasn’t Mike.”
He continued, saying that Beyoncés Coachella set surpassed “every Grammy performance, every Super Bowl halftime show, every talent show. Literally, any performance from the beginning of time, in contrast, became outdated and obsolete.”
The Chicago rapper stressed the idea of assuming the responsibility of greatness by excelling past iterations of greatness.
“We have a responsibility to be not as good as them or live up to their example, but to actually surpass them, even when it seems scary. We have to overcome that fear and be greater than our role models. We have to erase the fear and stigma behind eclipsing our heroes.”
Chance said Bey’s performance inspired him to recognize that “greatness can never be stagnant.” He continued, “To quote Bruce Lee, we must be like water, adapting to our container, always changing with the times. And that means being better than the people that came before us. Some people might find this type of talk disrespectful, but it’s exactly the opposite.”
He added, “The highest form of respect that we can pay to the people who came before us, the people who sacrificed for us and gave us everything, is to be better than them … Our parents, grandparents, ancestors sacrificed, not so that we can keep doing the same thing that they were doing but so that we can be better. To simply copy them would be almost an insult to their sacrifice.”
Watch Chance’s full Dillard University Commencement speech above.
Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani