ANDRE ALONSO Contributing Writer
For 58 years, The Grammys only allowed artists who sell their music to be nominated for an award.
That means that any artist who puts out a free demo, free album or a mixtape is not allowed to be nominated for a Grammy. For years, artists have been releasing great content for free, but haven’t been recognized by the academy.
That all changed when a 23-year-old hip hop artist named Chance the Rapper stepped into the spotlight. Chancellor Bennet is a young father from the south side of Chicago who started to release music at the age of 18 when he got suspended from school for ten days. Inspired by the situation he was in, he wrote songs about being suspended and released his first mixtape rightfully named, “10 Day.”
This first tape got Chance recognized all over Chicago. Fast-forward a year later and he released his second free project, “Acid Rap,” which skyrocketed Chance to the higher ranks of the new hip hop kids.
Two years later, he released the first free album on iTunes, entitled, “Surf,” with his band, Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. With the release of “Surf” he vowed he would never make money off of music, but instead, off of tours and merchandise. His fans have argued that he deserved Grammys for both “Acid Rap” and “Surf,” but since they were released free, he was not eligible.
Then, in the summer of 2016, Chance released his highly anticipated third project named, “Coloring Book” and he exploded into stardom, hanging out with the likes of Beyoncé and making music with legends like Lil Wayne, Kanye West and even Paul McCartney. With his old school, big band type music in one hand and his gospel music that hits most in the soul in the other, Chance has a new and refreshing way to look at hip hop.
After the release of his third project, a petition was made to allow artists who release free music to be nominated for a Grammy. The petition reached 20,000 signees in under three days, including a signature from Chance himself. The petition reached the Academy and they made a bold move. They decided to allow artists who release free music to be nominated for Grammys.
After all of his success, Chance still has not signed with a major record label. Earlier this year, he became the first independent artist to perform on Saturday Night Live. He has left a huge impact on not just the hip-hop community, but on all of music, redefining the business. Thank goodness he got suspended back in high school.