Chance The Rapper talks hosting a festival in Ghana, depicting global Blackness in "The Highs and The Lows" music video, reflecting on 10 years since his debut mixtape '10 Day', and more on SiriusXM's Hip-Hop Nation.
Chance The Rapper appeared on SiriusXM's Hip-Hop Nation to promote his forthcoming album 'Star Line Gallery'.
During his conversation with SiriusXM host Swaggy Sie, Chance discussed hosting a festival in Ghana, depicting global Blackness in "The Highs and The Lows" music video, reflecting on 10 years since his debut mixtape '10 Day', and more.
Chance The Rapper Explains Why Ghana is Hosting Black Star Line Festival
Swaggy Sie: Now I know you, and you mentioned Vic Mensa earlier.
Chance The Rapper: Yeah.
Swaggy Sie: You guys connecting, man, obviously you guys go way back, but connecting on a greater level now, right? Taking it overseas, taking it to the motherland. And more specifically Ghana
Chance The Rapper: Yes. To Ghana.
Swaggy Sie: Woo. I mean, I've been, I've been there in 2019 going into 2020.
Chance The Rapper: For the year of the return.
Swaggy Sie: I went for the year of the return. I, I like chills bro chills. You know what I'm saying? So I, I know what's going on, but everybody else might not know. Why did you pick Ghana? Did you guys pick Ghana for this festival?
Chance The Rapper: Yeah. So I appreciate you bringing this up. Yeah. Me and Vic Mensa announced a couple weeks back in, while we were in West Africa, we announced the Black Star Line Festival, which is gonna be a historic date where Black people from all over the world can come and congregate and listen to amazing music, see amazing artists, eat amazing food and experience culture in a way that's very, much-so private, but also inviting and in confidence. And we need more spaces like that. And the reason why we chose to do it in Ghana is because a lot of us don't know here in the states that Ghana is the epicenter of global Blackness, it's the ground zero for global Blackness. And it, we, they, they don't teach us all the stuff, but you know, all these African countries that, that exist in our thriving at this point all started within like the last 65 years. Ghana was the first Black country on was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence from foreign powers. And that's very, very recent. You know what I'm saying? That like, this is a, this is like, you know, the, the fifties and the sixties, when we were going through civil rights, like, and trying to like to, to liberate ourselves in this country, like our counterparts on the continent were literally fighting the same fight and just got to a place or a status of, of independence in the last 65 years. And when it did get its independence, the president, his name was Kwame Nkrumah. The dude who, who, who, who founded Ghana changed the name, kicked out the, the, the British imperialist. He had a, a whole vision for how the world should work. And a lot of the stuff that he wanted to implement didn't get implemented on our side as Black folks. But like, you know, he's got the book. For example, he was the first person to talk about a decentralized African dollar or the, where the whole con- the whole continent operated on one, on one form of currency. And they called him a communist for it. But right after that, you see Europe introduced the Euro, like, he's, he, he, he was the one that was inviting Black people, like Maya Angelou, and Muhammad Ali out there. And, and like I said, right after that, you get the Civil Rights Movement in the states. So like that they call it the gateway to Africa for a reason. It is like, it's nothing like you would think, it's nothing like you've seen, you have to go there and experience the people and the, and the, and the space and the culture and the food and the music for yourself. And that's why we, why we would need to do it there is cause number one, we need spaces to just be safe and at peace and, and enjoy joy.
Swaggy Sie: Absolutely.
Chance The Rapper: But also we need that connection and we need to be able to do it in confidence. And so, like, I, I've been excited to talk about it cause every time I know that there's Black ears listening to it,
Swaggy Sie: Of course.
Chance The Rapper: Especially now we global right now,
Swaggy Sie: Of course, you know what I'm saying
Chance The Rapper: Like we are everywhere.
Swaggy Sie: Yeah.
Chance The Rapper: And if I could get anybody's ear to raise up right now, we are everywhere. And a lot of times we feel alone or in spaces where we're the minority. In reality, we are everywhere around the globe. And so to Black people that not just live in the states, but the ones in the islands, listening to the people on the continent, listening to the people in the UK, listening the people in Asia and, and Australia, Black people listening like we, this is, this is our time and we can all feel that there's a collective revolution on its way, but this is our time to go and stand in our Blackness and be happy and be proud and, and diffuse together. You know what I'm saying?
Chance The Rapper Reflects in 10-Year Anniversary of Mixtape '10 Day'
Swaggy Sie: Before we get into some of these performances. Obviously I wanna talk to you a little bit and also congratulate you on the 10-year anniversary of 10 Day.
Chance The Rapper: Yeah. Yeah.
Swaggy Sie: The debut mixtape. Yo, that April 2012.
Chance The Rapper: Yeah.
Swaggy Sie: Wow.
Chance The Rapper: Yeah. It's been some time.
Swaggy Sie: What's, what's that like, man, when you reflect back 10 years ago?
Chance The Rapper: Man, it feels good. Yo, it feels very good to like, just think about it as something that wasn't, that now is, you know, or something that I perceived to be a possibility. And now that possibility is just fact, you know what I mean? Like I
wanted to be a rapper for as long as I could remember.
Swaggy Sie: Right.
Chance The Rapper: I, I used to like write poems when I was like five or six years old.
Swaggy Sie: Right.
Chance The Rapper: And I started turning them into raps when I was young and I spent my whole high school career, like making music, like never did homework, was not good at school, was not good in school. And I, but I always wanted to create and create music and…
Swaggy Sie: Right.
Chance The Rapper: And to be like, to be somebody that could say, "I got 10 years in the game." That's beat, you know.
Swaggy Sie: Let's go, man. 10 years is not easy and to be consistent. And do you ever have those moments that are like, "wow", for you? Like you can't believe that 10 years has gone by?
Chance The Rapper: Yeah. You know, what's actually funny is that I'm so glad you just asked that question. Yesterday I had one of those moments for the first time in a long time. Some people ask me that, I'm like, "Nah, not really. It's kind of a rolling thing." Where I'm consistently making stuff and like having small little moments of joy, but not really like, what's that, you know, the meme that's from like a Tyler Perry movie where the dude it's like, it's like zooming out.
Swaggy Sie: Yeah, yeah
Chance The Rapper: And you turn around like. I don't have that very often, but yesterday I had a very like Mariah Carey and glitter moment.
Swaggy Sie: I saw you. I saw your IG story
Chance The Rapper: Yeah. I went, I went out to Times Square and remembered that I had put up a billboard, some crazy billboards. Well, it's like a, it's like five giant billboards and they're the paper kind. So for any independent artists out there always by bulletin, paper, not digital, get your, get your bucks worth. Cause when it's done, the campaign is over. They'll keep your ad up until somebody else buys the space.
Swaggy Sie: Right. Until they get lazy. Right. Right.
Chance The Rapper: So that's the bang for your buck. But I went out there and seen it and it was just crazy. Cause the first time I came to New York, I shot a music video for a song called "Juice" and probably in like December of 20- of 2012 when I was getting ready to drop 'Acid Rap'.
Swaggy Sie: And that was in Times Square?
Chance The Rapper: And that was in Times Square and the, and my homie, one of my best friends, who's on my management team now went to a college out here and me and him went out to Times Square that night and like took a picture. It was his first-ever Instagram picture. And so we went back to that spot, my boy, YK Osiris. We, we went back to that spot and, and right where we stood, where I took this picture and like, you know, dingy coat and like clothes that had been passed down to me and just like out there trying to make it happen.
Swaggy Sie: So crazy.
Chance The Rapper: There's like now 10 giant billboards for "The Highs and The Lows".
Swaggy Sie: Wow. Wow.
Chance The Rapper: That was a moment.
Chance The Rapper: "The Highs & The Lows" featuring Joey Bada$$ is About 'Depicting Black Lives As Art'
Swaggy Sie: One guy who, who definitely is a wordsmith man and it is, it's dope for me, cause I grew up with this guy in Brooklyn. Like we used to drive the shows like in Albany and stuff. And to see you guys, you know, take that BET stage together. I'm talking about my homie man, Joey Bada$$.
Chance The Rapper: My boy, Joey Bada$$, the bad man.
Swaggy Sie: The bad man for real.
Chance The Rapper: 2000 out right now, you gotta go get that. That's a classic hip-hop album.
Swaggy Sie: It is. Yeah.
Chance The Rapper: We're living in it right now.
Swaggy Sie: Yeah, no, from 1999 to, to that. So, you know, that was a full circle moment for him. And then to, like I said, see, you guys take that BET stage, you know, was a moment for not just hip-hop, but for wordsmith and for people who really put a lot into the things that they say and in our very intentional.
Chance The Rapper: Yeah.
Swaggy Sie: So what was it like, you know, you guys getting together, besides the fact that he actually could rap, you know what I'm saying?
Chance The Rapper: Well, me and Joey known each other since our, our, our careers completely parallel to each other.
Swaggy Sie: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Chance The Rapper: We both dropped in 2012, our first mixtapes. His was 1999. Mine was called 10 Day. We met through Cinematic. We did a show together at S.O.B.'s was both our, it might not, it might not have been Joey's first show at S.O.B.'s, But we did a show together at S.O.B.'s in 2012 when everybody was first, first starting, there
Swaggy Sie: I remember, I think I remember that show.
Chance The Rapper: Yeah. It was during CMJ. Do you remember CMJ, College Music Journal? It was like a whole thing. You know what I'm talking about? So back in the day, like it was a big deal to get on these shows and, and you had to like come with it, like to be remembered. And so I remember like seeing Joey at that show and being like, "This n**** cold." Then we did our first show together in Boston. But like we did a show together. Like it was both, I think for our first times touring. This is 2012 also at like a college show. And then after that we just locked in. So we only have, we've, we've been friends for 10 years. We're both celebrating our 10-year anniversary of our first projects. And we only made one song in that time. That's how tight we are. Like people that I'm cool with, a lot of times I end up never making music with 'em,
Swaggy Sie: That's so crazy.
Chance The Rapper: We just kick it. But yeah, we ended up linking up in Atlanta of all places, which is, you know, that's the capital of Blackness in America and that's like a big part of my project. So I felt like it was really serendipitous that we ended up being there together. And I was like, "Man, why, why don't we do this? Like, we should just go to the studio. We both know what we doing. Let's go, just make another song for fun." Ended up making a, a hip hop classic.
Swaggy Sie: Yeah, for sure. And then, you know, the video just makes it that much more flying, man. I'm not gonna lie. Where did you guys fly out to for that? Cause I was trying to be on that boat with y'all.
Chance The Rapper: No, so yeah, we shot the video for "The Highs and The Lows" in Venice, Italy so we, we, and actually it's in Venice, Italy and in Paris, France. So we had a couple ideas for the video and talked about different ways of doing it for a while, but we had to wait on the artwork. So like I was saying earlier, all the pieces, all the songs that I've been dropping, they are multidisciplinary art pieces. So there's a sound piece to it, which I make. But typically, there's like a visual artist that's either a painter or a sculptor, a designer or whatever that makes a piece that represents the song. And then I do the film part that marries the two together. And when we made "The Highs and The Lows", we had one artist that we were trying to get for a long time. And it ended up working out perfectly that, that it ended up going to this artist named Yannis Davy Kapinga who's a West African photographer.
Swaggy Sie: Right.
Chance The Rapper: Right. And once he said he was with it, we were like, "Cool I'm down." But for whatever reason, he could only get the piece printed in Paris. So we were like, "All right, we need to go to Europe anyway. And we've been on all this art stuff. We should go to the Venice Biennale." The Venice Biennale is the world's largest art fair, the most respected art fair in the world. And it takes place in Italy every other year. And I think it had taken a few years off cause of the pandemic or whatever, but it's like, when I say like snobby, snobby, pinky finger up it's that, it's that level.
Swaggy Sie: Right.
Chance The Rapper: But we, I think the video was so dope because my idea always in it was like, because we're on this art stuff, like "How do we depict our Black life as art? How do we depict what we do as art and like show the people our vision?" And so that's why you see like the frames
Swaggy Sie: The frames
Chance The Rapper: That's why you, that's why you feel that like the, even just the composition of all the shots feel like paintings. There are a lot of like very flat or static shots. And, but, but it, it, it was really like life turning into art cause when we got out there, that was when I realized how many, you know, similarities there are between the artists that make music and the artists that paint. Like we're both subjugated, we're both commodified, we're both put in positions where we don't get to recognize our power. And when I got out there, like I'm seeing this whole festival that's, that, this is the world's art fair. This is like the biggest artist in the world. And most of them are Black artists that are, you know, the driving force for people from coming all around the world to come see their stuff. But they having the same problems that we have when we go to South x Southwest or some shit like that.
Swaggy Sie: Wow.
Chance The Rapper: Where they can't get into the parties, they're getting mistreated, they're getting harassed by police. And so that helped me understand global Blackness and, and helped me understand how important it is to tell our stories from our perspective. So you get to see Venice, Italy, but you get to see it in a way you've never seen it. Every scene is Black, chocolatey folks or like, you know,
Swaggy Sie: Yeah, for sure.
Chance The Rapper: Us enjoying and enjoying joy and living in our space and showing what art means to us. And so like that is my proudest music video. Not just cause we travel, not just cause it's one of the hardest songs I ever made. But like also, because it's all real life. Us really in Venice, us really in Paris, these two historically extremely racist and fascist countries. I'm saying historically, so please allow me to come back to Paris. You know what I'm saying? But just saying like we don't have all that history and, and what all we can do is, you know, try and create art out of how we feel now.
The full interview is available on the SXM App.