Why Chance The Rapper Should Never Sign a Record Deal
By: Erian Stirrup
Just a few days ago, Chance the Rapper is reported to have turned down up to $10 million in contract advances with record labels *You Go Boy*. All to keep his freedom—uh... I mean, independence. I don’t blame him, and if I were Chance the Rapper, I would never sign a record deal. Here’s why:
He is already famous and rich.
Ok, I don’t actually know if he’s rich, but he ain't poor, and whatever money he’s making, he’s making it himself and he’s definitely not being exploited to make someone else rich. I don’t know Chance personally, but I’m gonna go head and correctly assume that’s important to him. Obviously, there's more to music than being rich and famous, like artistry and free expression, but think of every biopic you've ever watched, what did they promise the artist? Exactly. As to the famous assertion, google "coloring book." Seriously, google it.
He has total creative control over his work.
For artists of color, this is muy importante. I remember listening to a K-Michelle interview where she talked about struggling with her artistry. She was being pigeonholed into a genre of music, even though she’s a classically trained musician. This of course is problematic. Because—racism. Being an independent artist gives Chance the freedom (this is starting to sound a lot more like slavery than I expected) to do things like perform a Gospel infused version of Coloring Book at the Grammy's. This is potentially an entire post itself, but my point is, Chance is a rapper, from Chicago (the same Chicago y’all President likes to name drop), at the Grammys performing with Gospel Legend Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann.
He just won 3 Grammys as an independent artist.
Listen. The Grammys don't define Black excellence. Run DMC doesn't have any Grammys. Tupac doesn't have any Grammys. Biggie doesn't have any Grammys. And a bunch of other Black artists who have zero Grammys. So obviously you don't need a Grammy to recognized as one of the greats. But, it's not irrelevant that a young, carefree Black man won 3 Grammys. Because—racial tensions.
Historically, contract law has had negative implications for people of color.
Honestly, this shouldn't come as a surprise. The laws in this country, including contract laws were written by white men. Most of the cases that interpret these laws, were interpreted by white men. As wonderful as you might think it would be for the laws of this country to be color-blind *rolls eyes hard AF*, the laws are a reflection of the perspective of the people who wrote them; white men. In the name of freedom of contract, the law and the court system often reinforce and justify the uneven distribution of power that comes with contract transactions.
Because the judge makes the decisions, his bias is on the table right along with his authority. For a judge who's "color blind" and refuses to recognize that he may even have biases, or that there’s a huge hole in the education system that disproportionately affects people of color, for example, obviously the outcome is injustice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Chance would get taken advantage of, just because he’s Black. But look at the many artists who've had to file bankruptcy or otherwise been taken advantage of by their record labels based on terms in their contracts. New Edition, Toni Braxton, and Ike Turner for example, and these are just the few I can think of.
So yea, Chance, don't let nobody trick you off these streets; you the man, stay the man.