Chance The Rapper Is Building a Huge Career on Releasing Music for Free

"He has no rules to follow, no boss to please, he is completely in control of his destiny."

I remember my father’s CD collection, stacked tall in the garage with everything from Tupac to Missy Elliot. The flimsy case, circular disc, alluring cover, how could you resist the yearning to discover what music is hidden beneath that plastic case? That was back in the early '90s when going platinum wasn’t just for Disney movies and Canadian heartthrobs. Sadly, my kids won’t have this thrill. 

For this generation, my generation, it’s hard to find the funds for music when the Jordans are retro, gas prices aren’t getting substantially cheaper, employment is scarce and albums are so easy to obtain. In 2014, the leak date is much more important than the release date. The internet has overthrown the industry's best attempts at keeping the CD alive and pulling in profits, why buy music? Given that musical climate, it doesn’t surprise me that Chance The Rapper is laying the treasure right at our feet by releasing his next album for free.

"The whole point of Acid Rap was just to ask people a question: does the music business side of this dictate what type of project this is? If it's all original music and it's got this much emotion around it and it connects this way with this many people, is it a mixtape? What's an album these days, anyways? Cause I didn't sell it, does that mean it's not an official release? So I might not ever drop a for-sale project. Maybe I'll just make my money touring.” – Chance The Rapper’s Rolling Stone interview

Chance understands his audience is from the Napster era, the Limewire era, the Bit Torrent era. He understands obtaining music in every way except through purchase. His eyes see the music industry for where it’s heading, not where it was. Now, the music is the medium to connect with listeners, entice merchandise purchases, increase live show attendance and overall relevancy. It’s a young artist mentality, to see the worth in their independence, and provoke support by challenging their audience without being commonplace. How many artists can you name that made custom shirts for every stop on their college tour? Selling music is a dying art; it’s time to innovate a new demand, one that can’t be downloaded.

But when will we get an Acid Rap follow-up though?

Surf is the title of Chance’s upcoming album, which will be with his band The Social Experiment. It will be out this year, and it will be free. In his recent interview with Billboard, he speaks briefly on the album. “You could probably tell if you listen to 'Arthur,' he said. "We've been trying to take in all these cool, different outside cultural experiences and make that into a free listenable project. That's the new thing.” 

I’m honestly intrigued by what he has in store for live shows that are influenced by “The Lion King musical.” His fearlessness fused with that ambition is going to send ripples down the spine of this industry, all while reaping the benefits of independence. Some artists sign to majors and pretend otherwise, but I believe Chance The Rapper loves his artistic freedom too much. He has no rules to follow, no boss to please, he is completely in control of his destiny. While the industry tries to fix what’s broken, he is building the foundation for upcoming artists to stand upon, and that foundation will be built on free music. 

By Yoh, AKA 2 Vowelz, AKA @Yoh31