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Local Q&A: Chance the Rapper

Most people serving high school suspensions use the extra time to ponder the consequences of their actions. Chance the Rapper used it to launch a music career.

The young MC, born Chancelor Bennett 19 years ago, started work on his debut mixtape "10 Day" after getting busted smoking pot at Jones College Prep. In the months since the album's April release, Chance's fortunes have improved considerably. The rapper has already toured alongside Childish Gambino and rising locals Kids These Days, and this week he headlines his first show at Metro. In addition, he recently wrapped up work on his sophomore mixtape, "Acid Rap," which he expects to release early in 2013.

In a recent phone interview, the West Chatham native opened up about life on the South Side, the inspiration behind his latest mixtape and his growing big screen ambitions.

You started work on "10 Day" after getting busted with weed. Does the title of "Acid Rap" mean you've moved on to other mind-altering substances?

It's not really just about mind-altering chemicals. It's about mind-expansion, period. Acid can open your mind and put you in a different place and make you ask a lot of questions, and the "Acid Rap" tape does the same thing. It's me experimenting with a lot of different sounds ... and just trying new things.

How severely did your parents punish you after you got suspended?

I was in mad trouble. When I got suspended for smoking I didn't just get suspended--I got arrested. It was right around the time of finals, so I failed half of my second semester classes and had to go to summer school. So there was a bunch of [bleep] going on. But I definitely got punished by my parents. Every day I was on suspension I had to go to my pop's job and just post up there all day helping him out with email or whatever.

You grew up down the street from where Derrick Rose went to high school. How many points do you think you could drop on him in a game of 21?

Probably 21. Naw, I can't say I'd beat Derrick Rose in a game of basketball. D. Rose is tough. I don't want to say this in a lame way, but D. Rose is one of my heroes. His whole story and background and what he's done for communities in Chicago is super inspiring.

Obviously a lot has been written about the epidemic of violence on the South Side. Is that something that has touched your life in any way?

Oh, for sure. I'm a young black kid in Chicago, and it's something every black teenager knows something about. I have friends that were killed, or even friends of family that passed away specifically from gun violence.

Yet your music is generally upbeat.

I just don't talk about it [in my music]. I've mentioned it when it was something close to my life. One of my good friends growing up passed away last August. Me and a few of the guys were up north and got into some [bleep] and somebody stabbed my mans and killed him. I wrote "Missing You" specifically for him. That's about as deep as I got into it.

On the track "Nostalgia" you mention a fourth-grade talent show. What was your talent?

No one has ever asked me that before. When I was in grade school they used to do these talent shows, and in third grade I did a Michael Jackson impersonation where for four minutes I was break-dancing onstage. I didn't win--probably because of some political bull[bleep]--but then in fourth grade I came back and won it.

Did you know Donald Glover first as Troy (from the NBC show "Community") or as Childish Gambino?

I was a huge fan of "Community" and I didn't even realize [Donald Glover] was Childish Gambino. When I got hit up [to open] his show I was like, "Childish Gambino? Cool, but I don't know who that is." When he came on I was like, "Oh, this is the dude from 'Community!'" It was dope.

Did you push him for a walk-on part on the TV show?

[Laughs] Let me do that right now in the interview. Can I just give him a shout-out and tell him to put me on?

Do you have any interest in acting?

I love theater and I've always been a huge movie buff. The music thing is what I'm focused on now, but in a few years? Definitely you'll see me in a movie.

Would you be better suited to comedy or drama?

Me? I'm more of a dramedy fan. I can do both [laughs].

Chance the Rapper, 7 p.m. Fri. Nov. 23 at Metro. $9-$12.

Chance the Rapper personality test
What's the last album you bought? "'Channel Orange' by Frank Ocean."
Song you've listened to on repeat recently? "'Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst' by Kendrick Lamar."
Song you never want to hear again? "Man, I hope Lupe won't read this, which he won't because he doesn't care, but that 'Bitch Bad' song sucks. I know what he as trying to do, and I appreciate it, but it sucked."
Best concert you've seen in the last year? "I'm not really a concertgoer in all honesty, but the last thing I saw that was really good was Little Dragon at Lollapalooza."
New band you don't know personally that deserves to be big? "Francis and the Lights deserves to be way bigger. They're so dope."
Chicago's best music venue? "Reggie's."

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