In the latest segment of an eight-part CNN series promoting the network’s Chicagoland show, Acid Rap emcee Chance The Rapper details the inspiration behind his mixtape track “Paranoia” and how the city’s violence has touched him personally.
“There’s a lot of Chicago influence that I put into the music—Soul, Jazz influence, Rock influence, House music—just a lot of sounds that stem from Chicago, the Chicago Hip Hop scene,” he said. “It’s very chill right now, especially in comparison to the way Chicago is.”
The video also covers the death of the rapper’s close friend Kevin Ambrose in May of last year, during the same time period that Chance recorded his Acid Rap release. In an interview with CNN, the artist’s father explained the family’s reaction to the news of Ambrose’s murder. “I remember waking up that morning, Chance was pretty upset,” he said. “I asked him what happened and he told me, ‘Kevin got killed last night.’ There are a lot of challenges they’re facing and I’m concerned about Chance everyday.”
Ambrose’s death and gun violence in Chicago more generally is referenced heavily on Chance’s song “Paranoia.” Speaking with CNN, he referenced the incident as the motivation behind that particular song. “It’s about the people that are affected beyond the two people that have a confrontation,” he said. “It’s really just about putting the death of a young innocent person in front of a bunch of people’s faces.”
“Paranoia” serves as the second track to Acid Rap, the latter half of a two-part song that begins with “Pushaman.” “They murking kids, they murder kids here / Why you think they don’t talk about it? They deserted us here,” he raps on the song. “Where the fuck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric in here.”
The Chicagoland segment also chronicles Chance’s first performance at the music festival Lollapalooza. Asked about what was at stake ahead of his stage entry, Chance described the pressures. “My entire reputation as an artist,” he said, “the reputation of Chicago as a music movement, my finances, my pride.” During his performance of “Paranoia,” Chance references his friend’s death explicitly, not only saying “R.I.P. Kevin,” but adding, “everybody in this room is lucky to be alive right now.”