Ladies and gentlemen, Chance the Rapper will become “Chance the Commencement Speaker” on May 12th and bless over 200 members of Dillard University’s 2018 graduating class with words of encouragement and inspiration (maybe even in verse format) to fuel their futures. The independent musical genius, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, became the first artist to be nominated and win a Grammy for a streaming-only album. However, the fact that the 25-year-old is already so much more than the music has earned him the love, respect, and admiration of millions both young and old. Chance’s philanthropic efforts and bouncy, infectious positivity are in part what prompted Dillard President Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough to dub him as “the artist that your grandmother would love.”
The AP reports: “Kimbrough says Chance is part of a new wave of artists who can openly talk about faith while being in hip hop, balancing the secular and the sacred….Kimbrough, who’s known as the Hip-Hop Prez, teaches a class on ethics and hip-hop and has sought Bennett to appear on campus for two years. Bennett has been intentional with using his ever growing popularity to give back to his hometown of Chicago, especially the youth who admire him. In 2014, Chance used #savechicago to stop gun-violence for 42 hours and since then, he’s forged ahead. And for three years, whether through hosting monthly high school OpenMike series at Chicago’s Public Libraries, raising over $100,000 to bring sleeping-bags and coats to Chicago’s homeless, or raising over $4 million for his local Chicago Public School System, Bennet makes helping others a priority. Bennett is also the founder and president of SocialWorks, a nonprofit created to empower youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement, and it’s his aim to reshape the possibilities through freedom and access for the youth of Chicago and the globe. ‘The activism is a bonus with Chance,’ Kimbrough said. ‘I thought he made for a great commencement speaker because of his spirit of being entrepreneurial and authentic. But his civic engagement, including encouraging people to vote and willingness to speak out on issues, like his recent opposition to a Heineken ad, are just as paramount.'”
To Chance, we say, keep on Chance-ing and may God bless you with continued success!
– Dante Spellman