There’s a photo you might have seen floating around online of a young Chancellor Bennett (better known today as Chance The Rapper) and his family meeting with Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
Chance, who was “13 or 14” at the time, remembers telling Obama he was a rapper, to which the President responded, “word.” Chance’s father, Ken Bennett, worked for Obama during his first term—and before that when he was a Senator—which explains the picture. Not to say it’s any less cool or anything.
Little did anyone in that photo know, that wasn’t the only visit Chance would make to the White House, but it was the last time he went strictly as Ken Bennett’s son. Since making his way onto Obama’s iPod, Chance The Rapper has made two trips to the White House this year alone: to attend the My Brother’s Keeper initiative meeting alongside the likes of Pusha T, J. Cole and Nicki Minaj, and to get drunk at Obama’s 55th birthday party (an epic dance battle between the pair was started that night which has yet to be settled).
Then, last night, Chance The Rapper attended Obama’s final White House State Dinner. His plus one? His dad.
It was no doubt a proud moment for Ken Bennett. Almost a decade after taking his family to meet the President at the White House, he found himself back at Barry’s crib thanks to his son’s own successful career. But this visit probably carried even greater significance for both father and son when you consider their once-tense relationship.
“I was kinda messing up as a kid. I went to community college for a week and a half and dropped out, but I was still living at my dad’s house and my dad’s not that type of n*gga. He’s no nonsense. Basically, he was like, ‘you’re either gonna get a job or go to school or go to the service.’ I had a little bit of time to figure it out; I didn’t figure it out, so I had to leave the crib while I was getting my shit together. Got caught up in some bullshit, one of my friends got killed, and me and my dad afterwards got really, really close and got on the same page. I was able to really tell him how I felt about going after music, and he was like, ‘well if that’s what you want to do, I know life is short and we live in Chicago, I wanna support it’… He straight up campaign managed me.” —Chance on Power 106 LA
Of course, it didn’t take long for Chance to get his career off the ground and convince his father that he was headed in the right direction. The phone conversation from Acid Rap’s “Good Ass Outro” captures a touching moment between a proud father and his grateful son who’s on his way to stardom. “I could never be more proud of anything in my life, you know, than I am of you and what you’ve done,” Ken says. “Chance, you have done remarkable and wondrous things, so you don’t have to tell me thank you for anything. I’m supposed to do this, that stuff for you anyway, and ya know, just keep doing what you’re doing. I am very, very proud of you. Just keep doing what you’re doing, ok?”
Chance did just that and went onto become one of the biggest names in music, all while playing by his own rules. While it's safe to assume Ken is even prouder of his son as both an artist and an activist, there’s isn't a more perfect way for Chance to affirm his father’s faith in him than by taking him to the White House — the place where he told the President he wanted to become a rapper, and now parties with the President as one of his favorite rappers.
For Chance and Ken Bennett, things have come circle.