I first heard of Chance the Rapper at shitty high school parties filled with good music.
We’d get high and listen to “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” then get drunk and listen to “Good Ass Intro.” When my girlfriend and I started to fall in love, we listened to “Sunday Candy” as we drove aimlessly, her hand in mine. I listened to “Ultralight Beam” on a loop for months, letting the spirituality of the track wash away any negativity I was feeling at any given time.
When Chance’s most recent mixtape, “Coloring Book,” came out on May 13, I quickly came to associate every single song with a different emotional point in my life. It is indeed a dynamic album, boasting songs ranging from, “No Problem” — a song that can instantly shift any venue from being chill-as-hell to turned-the-fuck-up — to “Same Drugs” — a song that makes me emotional about an ex that I never even had.
These last several weeks have been hard. I’ve been busy, stressed and tired. I’ve dealt with the physical weight of wanting to break my sobriety for a single sip of wine with friends, the spiritual weight of being at a low point in my long-term relationship and the emotional weight of contemplating my voice and my identity during a time in which my blackness feels threatened.
In these past several weeks, I haven’t taken any time to practice self-care.
So, when my friend texted me telling me she had an extra ticket to Chance the Rapper on Friday, I thought — at the very least — it would be a break from my reality, and a break from thinking about all of these negative forces in my life.
In fact, it was quite the opposite. The concert gave me the opportunity to face my demons head-on.
Chance rapped about taking too many drugs and partying too hard when he was younger. He sang about wishing he treated his partner better, and recognizing how much they have changed over time. He performed interludes about recognizing one’s own self-worth and personal growth. And through it all, he was dancing like a goofy kid, smiling like a lovestruck teenager.
The last half hour of the show was dedicated entirely to spirituality, the power of God and the greatness that each person possesses within themselves. We were taken to church.
I didn't notice the impact his music was having on me until Chance performed “How Great” — a song that covers and samples Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God.” In the middle of the song, a projection of an angel — a beautiful black woman in a bathrobe with natural hair and wings — appeared behind him and opened her arms to the crowd, and opened her arms to me.
In that moment, in that show and in that venue I felt nothing short of at home and entirely at ease, feelings I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
“Did you know that your blessings don’t come from concerts or mix tapes?” Chance said to the audience during his five-minute encore sermon. “Did you know that your blessings are already within you?”
In the weeks before the show, I was so blinded by my burdens that I couldn’t even recognize the good of the simple things in my world.
Afterwards, I felt whole.
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