The Set of Bars that Define Chance the Rapper

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How can they call themselves bosses
When they got so many bosses
You gotta see what your boss say
I get it straight out the faucet

While these four lines may appear to be straightforward on the surface, in reality, these bars from Chance the Rapper’s collaboration with Young Thug, “Mixtape,” epitomize everything the Chicago-based rapper has tried to represent since the release of his first mixtape in 2012.

One of the primary motifs of Chance’s most recent project, Coloring Book, is how he continues to release music for free, despite pressure from labels and fellow artists to change. Because it is so omnipresent throughout the mixtape, as well as Chance’s career, it’s not surprising that the aforementioned lines have a deep connection to this theme.

On the surface, the first line is a simple line about a rapper dissing other rappers — openly questioning how so many people out there are calling themselves bosses. However, when combined when the other three, you can see Chance isn’t attacking rappers, rather labels as a whole.

Let’s see this develop over the next few bars. “When they got so many bosses,” is Chance saying that you can’t be on top of rap when you’re reporting to so many people. “You gotta see what your boss say,” refers to labels forcing artists to ditch their personal creativity solely to create a hit (just ask J.Cole). These two, along with the initial bar, are Chance implying everything he sees wrong with record labels. In his eyes, these three lines show you can never be on top of the game when you report to multiple people because eventually they’re going to force you to lose your integrity as an artist solely to sell records (just ask Lil’ Wayne).

While Chance disliking labels is a theme present throughout the mixtape, particularly in “No Problem”, it isn’t a new sentiment from Chano, as he has built his career on the idea of being an independent artist who gives out free music. Both #10Day and Acid Rap were free, and when Chance recently referred to himself as the “Tubman of the underground,” he’s indicating he sees himself as the artist that needs to be the one to show others to the freedom of being independent, a la Harriet Tubman.

Getting back to the lines themselves, I primarily included the final bar to finish the couplet, though it can also be tied into Chance’s pro-independent view. Here, “the faucet,” can either be seen as his creative flow or money. If the former, he simply lets his lyrics flow out of his mind and doesn’t have to worry about any executives hampering his thought process. If the latter, no one is going to touch the money he makes from this mixtape — he gets his money straight out the faucet, and no labels are going to receive a cut of his earnings.

When looking at Coloring Book, “Mixtape,” isn’t a song I envision having too much commercial success, especially when compared to more uptempo jams like “All We Got,” “Blessings,” or the aforementioned “No Problem,” but lyrics like these are what make the song such an important part of the project.

The Chance we’ve come to know since he snuck on the national scene four years ago has consistently had elements of old- and new-school rap in his rhymes, and has harped upon his belief of free, independent music every chance he got. Because these four lines incorporate both elements so well, they epitomize what Chance the Rapper has represented during his rise to fame.

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