Written by Live Nation Staff • May 23, 2016
Chance the Rapper has always embraced the idea of community. The Chicago emcee recently released his fantastic third mixtape Coloring Book, adding to his heap of critically-praised and innovative hip-hop. With his growing profile—which has seen him evolve from a young wisecracking teen to one of the Second City's most prominent, well-respected public figures in just a few short years—Chance has chosen to taken the road less traveled: using his artistic talent as a vehicle for positive change, more than straight entertainment. More importantly, though, it's become increasingly evident that his fans are more than willing to follow him down this winding road of social betterment.
This past Saturday, they lined up in a Chicago school parking lot to board buses that would take them to a mysterious event dubbed a "Magnificent Coloring World." Chance had promoted the gathering via his social media only a few days earlier, simply writing he had "something special" planned for the city he calls home. Entry came with a $40 price tag (or $60 for the evening session, which I attended, and that included unlimited beer). But what exactly was it? A concert? An art installation? An interactive experience? Chance's fans didn't seem to care. They sold the thing out in a matter of minutes.
What attendees received was a pure distillation of Chance's outsize artistic vision: that community and music and entertainment and creativity can happily coexist. Buses took event-goers to a nondescript warehouse, which turned out to be the Goose Island Brewery. Inside, fans had every one of their senses assaulted; it felt like gaining entry into the adult carnival that is Chance's mind. The soundtrack for the event, naturally, was the rapper's new mixtape. A welcome sign flashed on a projection screen, followed by animated scenes mixed with footage of Chance, and then the words "Are You Ready?" The screen soon fell to the floor and revealed the evening's setting: a giant playhouse. There was an inflatable bounce house and a slide; free ring pops; makeshift music-videos sets recalling Chance's "Sunday Candy"; church pews; an oversized chessboard, Connect 4, and other oversized kids' games. Appropriately, there was also a central area where fans could color on paper and write messages to their hero. Somewhere in between the listening party and the gyrating dance show, the Chicago Children's Choir came out to perform the track "Finish Line."
This gigantic event felt a lot like an expensive kid's birthday party, soundtracked by Chance the Rapper. Whether or not it was enough to satisfy those who'd paid good money to attend was, of course, up to each individual person to decide, but the vast majority of folks seemed genuinely thrilled to be there. "This is so amazing," one fan exclaimed. "What creativity!" At the first of the Magnificent Coloring World's four sessions, Chance never appeared, much to fans' collective disapointment. At the end of the final event he did show up—if only briefly. He stood above the crowd on a platform wearing a Derrick Rose Chicago Bulls jersey, and offered his thanks to those willing to attend his grand experiment "We did it. We brought complete joy!" he told the amped-up crowd. What he didn't do before slowly descending back into the shadows was perform any material. "I at least expected a few songs," one fan remarked. Either way, for an event pulled together in the span of just a few days, the Coloring World was a spectacle—and one that beautifully mirrored Chance's inspired creative spirit.
It was not to be. The evening was over. Fans were instructed to head outside to board the buses taking them back to the school. Sure, there were a few dejected fans hoping for a performance from their hero, but the crowd was in largely good spirits as the night faded away. "Blessings keep falling in my lap!" they sang en masse, the chorus of one of Chance's most grandiose new songs. They were more than fulfilled to just be part of Chance's artistic experiment... if only for a few hours.