Chance the Rapper was one of five people named “Chicagoan of the Year” by Chicago Magazine.

The publication cites the emcee’s quick ascent in the music industry, his family life and his concern for the community as reasons for granting him the award.

Chance the Rapper has made his mark on the Rap game by independently releasing free music, including Acid Rap, which has been downloaded more than one million times; and Surf, which was released through iTunes and Chance reports was downloaded more than 600,000 times in the first week.

“It’s about making a statement that we’re in control as artists,” Chance says of remaining independent. “That we make the decisions. There’s still that question when people meet you and see that you’re doing well, ‘Who are you signed to? Who put you on?’ Fuck that. I’m Black, and I did it myself.”

The 22-year-old became a father recently when his girlfriend gave birth to a baby girl. The rapper explains how this has given him a new perspective in life.

“Anywhere past age 13—10, if you live in Chicago, you have a relationship with death as you’ve seen it depicted in media, or around you, if you’ve watched somebody die,” he says. “Until you have your own seed, and this is just me being religious, come from God and come to you, it’s a new understanding of life and of love.”

Among his various ways of giving back to his community is a talent show that he hosts in honor of the late Mike Hawkins. Hawkins was a poet who mentored the Chicago youth including Chance. He died in December. At an “Open Mike” in September, Chance performed for the students who participated in the talent show.

“Since we first started doing the ‘Open Mikes,’ I’ve tried to make the point not to have me or the other staff members perform,” he says to the crowd. “We didn’t want it to feel like there was a time for you to perform and then a time for us to perform. I know how hard it is to come up onstage and say a poem that only you know or do a dance that only you’ve seen before. So I want to show you that I’m just as vulnerable as you guys.”

To read the entire story, visit Chicago Magazine.

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