Chicago’s Responsible Celebrity: Chance the Rapper & His Magnificent Coloring Day
Empowering Chicago pride through music and community
by Molly McCloskey
So here’s the thing about being a little too obsessed with celebrities: they let you down. They hit people and they divorce and at their worst they say and do racist/misogynistic/homophobic/horrible things. And when the news of whatever it is comes out, I, being a massively flawed human, have that one sneaking thought. “But…you guys. He was so great in Space Jam.” And then I bury that deep down and never admit to it. Until I write something on behalf of the company I work for. And post it online.
This is why Chance the Rapper is important to me. And why his music festival at US Cellular Field, Magnificent Coloring Day, made me experience every emotion I’m capable of. Excited when Kanye West surprised everyone with a set in the middle of the day. Genuinely happy when Chance sang “Sunday Candy,” a song about his grandmother. Angry when I was informed that the bar near my seats had run out of beer. Sad as he performed a song about gun violence, “Summer Friends,” as an encore. Proud when I saw how successful the day had turned out. And utterly confused when Skrillex started. What was I still doing there? There wasn’t even beer left.
As a long time fan of his, I have been lucky enough to see Chance mature from a kid making a mixtape during a high school suspension, to someone who has used his voice to praise and help his city, one that is known for our terrifying headlines. He has grown into a man who admires and respects his partner rather than berating or objectifying women. He even references Space Jam.
Chance has helped fund and organize youth programs, raised money to supply the homeless population with winter coats, and hires local artists to help with his work. He has never charged money for his music and remains an independent artist. He has done more for the city of Chicago than most celebrities from here have. Shit, he has done more for the city of Chicago than some local politicians have.
As you walked into the festival, you were introduced to his new non-profit organization, Social Works. Booths were set up where concertgoers could register to vote. I almost wanted to re-register just to feel like I was a part of it. The performers all brought messages of fun, peace and pride to the stage. Even Lil Wayne inspired me to believe in myself because, as he says, the sky is the limit. These actions have helped Chance acquire a fan base that ranges from high schoolers to adored celebrities and the White Sox organization. And me. I know he is especially proud of that one.
Pride is an important piece in his story. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and now live in the Wicker Park area. I have always been given the opportunity to be proud of where I live. I am recognizing and expressing my privilege. On Magnificent Coloring Day, Chance extended that opportunity to every corner of the city, especially where he was from. Places that are shit on by everyone. (Didn’t Donald Trump just describe Chicago as hell?) The weight of that was not lost on me.
I have been a fan of hip-hop music and the Chicago White Sox my whole life. My mom knows every word to the first three albums Kanye West released. My grandpa was literally buried with only a White Sox flag in his casket. Phil Mushkin of the New York Post wrote a piece on how horrible it was of the Sox to choose Chance as a brand ambassador. He concludes, “For crying out loud, how much faster can we run backwards? How much lower can we fall?”
He asks, “Would Mayor Emanuel, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Chicago Rev. Jesse Jackson recite his lyrics in public?” Well, I don’t know about them. But I do know that President Barack Obama included him on his summer playlist and invited him to perform at the National Christmas Tree Lighting. He was the first independent artist to perform on SNL. ESPN chose him to honor Muhammad Ali. Nike enlisted him to represent Team USA in a huge Olympic spot. Every single lyric from his latest mixtape was tweeted by fans. And over 47,000 people joined him for Magnificent Coloring Day, including Alicia Keys, John Legend, Common and Kanye West.
This is a celebrity I will talk about in public and feel proud to stand with. This is a celebrity I support without caveat. And this is a celebrity I will buy a flight to see again in another city.
In conclusion, this has been my request for PTO the week of his show in San Francisco. I already bought the flight so I’m really hoping it convinces them.