The Mainstream Game: Chance The Rapper V.S Joe Budden

Everyday Struggle, a rather polarizing series popularized by host and rapper Joe Budden’s antics and rough criticism of popular Hip-Hop artists made another wave on social media with comments about Chance the Rapper. Chance The Rapper, known for his socially conscious, gospel inspired music has had a miraculously successful career especially considering that he is an independent artist. The Chicago rhymer signed to no label, won three Grammy’s last year, and debuted a new song on the Colbert Show with Daniel Ceasar a few months ago. During a recent episode of the Complex funded series, Joe Budden called Chance The Rapper’s music “too positive.”

Let’s stop right here, and take a moment for…

1. Fragile Masculinity

2. Lack of Cultural Identity

3. And Straight Ignorance.

Now that I got that out of the way, my initial response was likely like most people with common sense: shocked, disappointed and just generally outraged. My little list above is what I’m sure caused Joe Budden’s statement, but as the understanding person I am, I watched the video again trying to decode what perspective I wasn’t seeing. Then it came to me all of a sudden when co-host Dj Akademics chimed in the conversation and compared Chance The Rapper to Drake in his “too nice game.”

When it comes to urban music, there has been a historically limiting power that bars specifically Hip-Hop artists from making it mainstream. Most times to do so, Rappers have to bend into a more palatable image, for a large audience. With Hip-Hop rooted in an underdog, street mentality, it’s often times looked down upon when a rapper makes it mainstream because it’s likely they sacrificed something to get there. In a bittersweet transition, the golden egg that is the marketability of Hip-Hop has made many rappers successful. Still, Chance The Rapper has defied the path for the modern, average rapper. His come up is not wrapped in privilege or secret industry deals. He simply used his mixtapes and connections *cough,cough Childish Gambino, to get where he is. Chance is very positive and there is nothing wrong with that.

Now, with that said I can see where Joe Budden’s frustration is partly coming from. Chance’s music is naturally positive, fun and whimsical. Chance’s music does not follow the average images and perspective of a traditional rapper, just like Drake, and just like Kendrick Lamar. While Chance did have to work to get to where he is, once he’s in, the perpetuation of his music naturally takes it’s course through the music industry. What do I mean when I say that? I mean radio-play, endorsement deals, royalties, invites to high-profile social events. What is likely cherry-picking by the music industry, encourages the influence and innovation from Hip-Hop, but at the same time ignores certain parts of the Hip-Hop culture. A perfect example of this is Drill music, which ironically began in Chicago. Made popular by rappers like G-Herbo and Lil Durk, Drill which consists of fiery, dark lyricism and tales of drugs and death is as equally frightening as transparent. While I can understand how it hasn’t found any mainstream appeal, there should be a stronger acknowledgment of the sub-genre by the labels, products and companies that profit from it.

Still, Joe Budden’s handling of the topic should’ve been directed towards the music industry and should’ve been saved for another time. Chance The Rapper is a naturally creative individual who has never lived in the confines of Rap’s equation. Somewhere in the road between Hip-Hop and R&B we find him, so if Chance wants to venture off into acoustic, or poetry themed music LET HIM DO SO. LET HIM LIVE! CHANCE THE RAPPER IS BEING HIMSELF!


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