Chance The Rapper Speaks At Harvard On Misogyny & Violence In Hip-Hop
While we wait anxiously for Chance The Rapper, Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment to drop their next record Surf, Chance has been making his way through the college speaking circuit, stopping off in Boston Yard for an insightful Q&A session with the kids of Harvard. It was sprawling discourse that found the rapper they call Chance fielding questions ranging from his preference in music streaming platform to addressing claims of violence stemming from hip-hop to the overwhelming levels of misogyny in our dear tradition and how he's also guilty of it. Chance even chimes in on the unrest in Baltimore. We've provided some of the more compelling excerpts from the chat below, but you can hit the link to get some more quotables from the FADER on his relationship with Kanye West, artistic integrity, the influence of gospel on his music and a whole lot more.
The pervasiveness of misogyny in hip-hop:
"I've been working on lot music since I dropped Acid Rap two years ago. I wrote this whole verse, a very disrespectful verse for [J.] Cole's use or for my use. A little less than a week later I was at my friend Peter's house working on another record, and this record is called "Goofy." The hook is this bitch a goofy over and over and over. It's super, it's terrible, but it's a very catchy song. A few days after I wrote that record and recorded a scratch for it, I recorded another song called "Regular" for the Surf project. I don't know where this came from, where this angst was coming from, where this disassociation with women or with black women specifically—because that's my closer relationship to women—was coming from, but in a short period of time I was writing a lot of records that just seem to have just a lot of ill will. I premiered one of the records on the radio and it wasn't until I heard that record played back after somebody ripped it that I realized I couldn't associate with it. I listened back to these other two records and I couldn't really associate with either of them. I just had this just short but important moment of reflection. I felt really responsible so I dug this deep hole and I threw "This Bitch Is Goofy" in there. "Regulars" is still going to be on Surf. That one's just too good. That's my roundabout answer to why I still use the word 'bitch.'"
The greatness of Soundcloud:
"Soundcloud is awesome. It's ill as fuck. Artist's space, you can upload your music whenever you want. You get the craziest metrics that anybody can offer you: sex, age, region of the world these people live in, a very detailed account of who's your fan and what they like. One of the coolest things that they have is this thing where you can change the music that you upload. You can randomly change the music that's playing and keep all the same information right there. I was doing this thing for a while called Broadcast where I would randomly change songs that I had posted to Soundcloud to a different audio file, not telling anybody. I'd preview music like that, so random fans throughout the world heard songs that I hadn't released yet."
Unrest in Baltimore:
"I think it's really most important for everybody to be informed, to be connected to the situation. I always say like there's an act—when to be a hand or to be a voice. You gotta know when your Twitter is stronger or your body actually marches. Sometimes it's either/or, you know? But I don't want to dance around saying this shit is wrong. I think we all know that. It's very hard to watch it happening on a loop."
Violence in hip-hop:
"It's a tricky subject, because I've watched Chicago at a conscious level from the late '90s. I watched the change in music and motherfuckers from Chicago started going viral. I watched [Chief] Keef come up and people begin to get famous in Chicago before they got famous everywhere else. I watched this power climb, these new set of norms being put in place in terms of how people interacted. There was a point where it was like, 'Somebody dies, it's a big deal.' But I think niggas kind of started being like, it's cool to have 'RIP my homie' on my shirt. I watched it get crazy around 2011-2012. There were a lot of things happening at the same time, but the best way to really watch it was through these YouTube videos that were going viral. Motherfuckers that you damn near go to school with are in the video like, 'I have this many guns,' and in the next video niggas are like, 'Oh really, we got this many guns!' And it goes back and forth and then somebody gets murdered. And it's way different than some old school west coast beef or two very famous rappers talking about each other. I don't know how to attack that question. Obviously violence doesn't come from music, that's stupid. That's not the answer, that's not right. But music can be very influential especially on a viral basis. Fuck those people [who say that hip-hop causes violence] though.