Almost three years after the release of his debut studio album “The Big Day”, Chance the Rapper has officially embarked on his full return to the musical sphere.
The Grammy Award-winning musician gathered hundreds of friends, family, art collectors, musicians and other industry members at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday night for a premiere by invitation only of his new project, a song, video and additional artwork titled “Son of God.”
Standing in front of the crowd on a small stage in the museum’s first-floor Great Hall, Chance and visual artist Naïla Opiangah introduced the project, with Opiangah dubbing it “the right way to see what empowerment is.”
“It took me a long time … to find a confident space to be the person I am,” Chance said. “It was a long journey to get there, but here I am, standing on this s- – -. This piece took me a long time to write.
In the video, projected on a towering curtain stretching from the ground up above the crowd, Chance is depicted in a house rapping to the song, while Opiangah paints on a canvas. Lyrics appear on screen as Chance glides through each bar, addressing themes of assertiveness and empowerment. Its delivery is steady and restrained over a clean pacing, with clever puns and skillfully navigated cadence changes.
As the video ended, the song’s outro continued, until the curtain dropped dramatically, revealing Opiangah’s 12-foot-tall painting hanging high, suspended in the air by two wires. The stunningly beautiful artwork depicts a series of black women cascading down the length of the canvas. Chance and Opiangah hugged each other, turned to admire the play, and thanked the crowd.
“The main message I want people to leave is that this 12ft painting, this illustrative video, this song, this MCA event – it all came together in a few months because we kept trying. It was a long process, but we learned to love the process,” Chance told the crowd.
The idea of ”God’s Son“The project originated during Chance’s recent trip to Ghana with fellow Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, Chance explained during a late-night interview with the Sun-Times in the museum’s Bergman Family Gallery.
In Ghana, he landed “in the arms of this awesome art collective”, he said. Among the artists he met was 27-year-old Opiangah, who was born and raised in Gabon, then moved to Chicago to study architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She now divides her time at home between New York and Accra, Ghana.
The couple have bonded over an interest in artists who get agency for their work. The parallels in their approaches are easily discernible, from Chance’s aversion to music labels throughout his career to Opiangah’s antipathy to art dealers and gallery owners who profit from an artist’s work. .
Chance showed him an early version of “Child of God”, and soon after he returned to Chicago. Opiangah traveled to Chicago soon after so they could collaborate on the piece, which will be on public display through Sunday at the MCA.
The release of this song, including the video debuted Thursday night on YouTube, is part of an album rollout that will also feature new songs and artist collaborations. The aim is to bring artists to the fore, to make their work more accessible and to celebrate the experience of art in a common space.
“The way we usually think about collaboration always involves other parties,” Opiangah said, joining Chance as he sat down on the gallery floor for the interview. “This project is really about what happens when you cut out all the noise and have one person and another person talking – just committing to bringing their conversations to life.”
Sonically, “Child of God” hints at a return to form for Chance, citing the delivery and heavier subject matter heard on songs like “Acid Rain” from his 2013 mixtape “Acid Rap” and “Summer Friends.” ” from “Coloring Book” of 2016. . It’s also a new turn toward a more vulnerable approach, where the rapper lets listeners experience the process of finding certainty in his voice and rediscovering his ability as an artist to create.
“For me, song is about holding that voice in your head that lets you know you could do it, you could finish it,” he said. “Whatever your job, whatever your job, whatever your goal, that you can do – you just have to start and finish.”
Over the past decade, Chance has been touring, independently releasing music, winning awards and trying to navigate fame while focusing on family life.
“I’m a child star, people don’t understand that about me,” Chance said, noting that he was 19 when he first toured and 21 when he had his first child. “I grew up fast.”
Now 28, Chance said he resumed writing last September and has since dug deep for a personal album of tracks due out later this year.
“They all come from a space where I finally feel empowered and I finally feel ready to talk about all the things I’m thinking about,” he said. “This project explores much darker themes than those I have tackled in the last two projects. But all of this always comes from a place of understanding that everything is a process.
On “Child of God,” he raps, “This world will have you guessing your first mind. Remember when it was your first day the first time?” The grit in his voice grows louder and clearer each time he returns to the chorus of the song: “Just do your thing, child”.
It’s a line he says reminds him of his first day of kindergarten and the fear of being in a new place, of not succeeding there.
“You have these moments all the time – your first day at your first job, or your [first] time to get into the interview, your first time on stage, your first time having a baby,” he said. “There are so many moments where you could think back to where you were terrified to death of what was about to happen. And each time, we succeeded.