Kevin Coval, the founder of the Louder Than a Bomb poetry festival and the artistic director for Young Chicago Authors, is set to release his book of poetry The People's History of Chicago on April 11. The book's foreword is written by Chance The Rapper, whose relationship with Coval, according to the artist, is that of an "artistic father."
In the foreword, Chance describes his relationship with Coval and the impact that his guidance and wisdom have had on his career, but the part that stands out the most is how he describes the idea of temporarily relocating to Los Angeles, only to realize that he could reach his artistic peak in Chicago.
"I had planned on living in LA, but when I was out there going to parties and feeling that vibe, I thought it was ungodly, it wasn’t true to who I was born to be or what I was supposed to grow to be. Being there made me realize this is not where I’m supposed to get my biggest experiences. As sad as I ever was in LA, the lowest I’ve ever been, it’s not where my lowest was supposed to be. The highest I’ve been, the happiest I’ve been in Los Angeles, was not where my life’s happiest moments were supposed to be. Being happy means doing what you are supposed to do, being exactly who you are supposed to be. My god, my inner understanding, whatever it is that guides me, had me recognizing that I’m not supposed to be there."
Chance isn't the first artist to leave the creature comforts of his own backyard for the seemingly sunnier skies and brighter pastures of Southern California, only to realize that the local scene and lifestyle aren't conducive to a productive, healthy and enjoyable existence.
In his 2016 song "There's Alot Going On," fellow Chicagoan Vic Mensa painted a picture of broken mental health and drug abuse as a result of his relocation to Los Angeles, which was only remedied by returning home to Chicago.
"It was like, May, I just moved to L.A., I was tryna figure it out / Medication for depression that I cut cold turkey, had the kid manic"
"Shit got bad out in L.A., so I moved back home to my mom's basement"
Similarly, in Stopped Making Excuses, a 2016 documentary produced by The FADER, Mac Miller talked about how his relocation from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles was fueled by his desire to move far away from his hometown, but after the initial luster wore off, the environment became toxic. Loneliness and boredom eventually led to heavy drug use, a path Miller was only able to avoid by packing up his things and moving back east to the Steel City.
The cost of living, horrific traffic and months on end with no rain notwithstanding, Los Angeles is an amazing city. But just because it's where the rich and famous spend their days and nights, doesn't mean it's a metropolis built for everyone. Like Mac Miller and Vic Mensa before him, Chance found out rather quickly that the grass isn't always greener just because the sun shines brighter.
In addition to using his home base to record new material, Chance has also taken on the role of local activist by, most recently, fighting for increased funding for Chicago Public Schools. On Friday, after several canceled meetings, Chance met with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, urging the politician to "take our kids off the table."
You can read Chance's entire foreword on Pitchfork.