Chance the Rapper shares with Katie Couric why he doesn’t need a record label

On February 12, Chancellor Bennett better known as Chance the Rapper made history. The Chicago native, who is one of the most inspiring musicians to date, became the first artist to win not just one, but three Grammys with his stream-only album Coloring Book. 23-year-old Chance was honored for Best Rap Performance, Best New Artist and Best Rap Album. He also completely stole the show with a performance so moving and passionate, we have chills just thinking about it.

In an exclusive interview with Katie Couric, the two chatted over lunch at Chance’s hometown favorite, Harold’s Chicken Shack. Chance discussed with the Yahoo! News journalist that victorious feeling on music’s biggest night, in addition to what it was like growing up in the Windy City, the influence the culture had on his craft and why he doesn’t linger from his traditional roots. Here’s what the “Same Drugs” mastermind had to say.

Performing at the Grammys and taking home three awards:

“It’s still unreal to me… there’s nothing like it. All of that time up until the Grammys, was the craziest time of my life, you know? And you know, you spend weeks and weeks working on a performance. And then once it happens, it just kind of book ends it. And you know, I just can’t wait for the next preparation time.”

Being an independent artist and whether he’ll ever consider signing with a record label:

“I think there’s a lot of attention on me not signing a record deal. But I also don’t believe in publishing deals or, traditional upper management (style of you know), of music being distributed. I get to choose how much my music costs. I get to choose when my music gets released. I choose when I go on tour, who I work with, what movies I work with…No, but do I, like, sometimes think, like, ‘Dang, this would be way easier if I, you know, had a machine behind me,’ yeah, I think about it all the time.”

How he makes money as an independent artist:

Well, luckily, I have a very successful merchandise business. I sell merchandise online at…That’s my main revenue. And then also you can buy tickets to any of my shows on And, you know, I think reinvesting in myself and being faithful to my consumers and to God I’m always covered.”

What changed his sound and how faith has inspired him:

“What’s funny is I really remember, like, sonically wanting to make more music that was righteous when I was in Los Angeles. And I was living, like, crazy. And I had a really, really bad Xanax addiction. And I remember, like, starting to feel like I wasn’t myself. And like, I wasn’t doing something right. And getting sick a lot… I don’t remember what it was that made me start listening to Kirk [Franklin] again. But I grew up in the church. But I didn’t really know how good Kirk Franklin was until I was in L.A. When I started listening to that I was like, ‘Okay, this is what I need to be working on.’ And it got me, like it got me into arranging music and, like, understanding, you know, how chords work and how, you know not just how important pitch is. But how important tone is. And, like, working with a lot of people.”

How being a father has affected his music:

“I think in all ways. It completely changes your life. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And it made me more grateful, you know? And so and being more grateful, I’m more respectful. Specifically of my time, I can’t spend too long writing a verse for somebody or even a verse for myself. So I think every line is more meaningful now and more impactful and written faster. And yeah, definitely, there was a lot of weight on my Coloring Book project to be dope. And that pressure got a lot more intense when I realized, like, you know, I have to take care of a baby with the money I make now. I think Kensli coming in was just, like, the refreshing jump start. Not even refreshing. It didn’t refresh my life. It started my life. When she came along everything just fast-tracked and became so much more important.”

Growing up in Chicago and why it was important for him to come back:

“I feel a certain, you know, duty to Chicago and to my family that lives here and to the people I grew up with that live here and people that I don’t know that live here. I’m a plant. If you uproot a plant and put that somewhere else, it’s not going grow the same, you know? So I this is where I’m supposed to be and where I’m supposed to grow and figure out what I’m supposed to be.”

Chicago violence and politics:

“What is going on is bogus. I think, like, as individual acts, it’s you know, it’s terrifying and also sad. Our schooling system has been underfunded for the past two years. We have some of the strictest gun laws as a state. But we’re there’s a lot of illegal gun trafficking coming from all the states that surround us. I think it takes an investment in everyone’s lives. The respect for life is little than none in the city because we don’t really feel like people care about us. There’s a lot of things that I wasn’t exposed to or didn’t understand or know about until I went downtown. It’s literally like a different city over there. The violence in Chicago is isolated to certain parts. And maybe if that violence moved outside of those same parameters, maybe people would feel like it’s important to do something or take action. It would be dope if all the politicians on the left and right could approve a temporary budget that could fund after-school programs at the schools. I like to work at the earliest level of it and get people involved in jobs an in schooling and in the arts early. You don’t have any respect for life if you don’t have anything going on, you know? Or respect for anyone else’s life if you don’t have anything going on. But then, again, I am also just a rapper from Chicago. I don’t really have all the answers. What we’re trying to do is use our influence and work with you know, these different communities at a really engaged, interactive level…I don’t like politics. I think politics is the reason why a lot of stuff doesn’t get done. But yeah, I’ll always try and be engaged in, you know, what’s going on in the city.”

You can watch Chance’s full interview with Katie here.

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Written by Cayla Masters

Music, pop culture and cheesesteak lover. Follow me on Twitter, @caylamasters