Part 1. 0:00 to 10:00 - Releasing Coloring Book, making of "All We Got" & demo
Part 2. 10:00 to 20:47 - Faith, Francis And The Lights & working with Kanye
Part 3. 20:48 to 30:57 - "Waves" and "Nina Chop" demos & being independent
Part 4. 30:58 to 40:28 - "How Great" w/Jay Elec & "Juke Jam" w/Justin Bieber
Part 5. 40:29 to 50:01 - "All Night," "Smoke Break," Chicago & fatherhood
Part 6. 50:02 to 60:53 - His father, touring, "No Problem" & unreleased music
Part 1. 0:00 to 10:00
Zane Lowe: So this is Conway Studios, off of Melrose, in Los Angeles. You've been here before.
Chance The Rapper: Yea this is where we did a lot of the Surf album and a lot of songs for Coloring Book.
ZL: That's right, Pharrell does some recording here as well as Beats 1 and this is a place with rich history and so we're here today to talk about music and it's the first time we've had a chance to properly sit down and meet and hang out. It feels good to finally meet you and especially now that you've dropped this amazing record and the reviews are coming in left, right and centre and I don't know if you pay much attention to those things, if anyone's even given you a headline I mean they're universally acclaimed.
CTR: That's dope, I mean I haven't read 'em all but I did see a bunch of them that were really nice and broke it down in a cool way.
ZL: You seem really well, very healthy obviously there was some concern and you had to come out and say look I've been under the weather, you were hospitalised at one point, I think you said it was pneumonia, like what was that about?
CTR: I don't know, I just get really sick I think I need to like, just take better care of myself, I just, I try and push it as far as I can
ZL: I wondered if it was a creative consumption, the stress
CTR: Yea you know that and also I get tonsillitis a lot, I don't know I just get sick very easily, I'm just like Mr. Glass, I don't know. I was sick and I'm getting better.
ZL: What's the pressure like when it came to finishing the record, like how close did it come to the moment when it was finally released on that Thursday evening American time and when did you actually hand it in?
CTR: We were to the limit, like we were able to still turn in the album to our friends over at Apple on time, or a little bit behind time actually cause
ZL: Well what is time actually these days anyways?
CTR: I know! It's a new idea to me also I think just turning in music for somebody to try and post it in a certain time and space. I've worked with end dates before like I had announced Acid Rap but we were in the studio until we posted it.
ZL: And it was self-imposed
CTR: Yea, so it was kinda the same thing with Coloring Book it was just a little more stressful because of, I think the environment that we created in that studio because there were so many different people working on it and everybody was sleeping at the studio, we had all the inflatable beds there. It was like twenty people all living out of the studio space, along with me and my girlfriend and my daughter and I think that, there was a lot of, you know, just fatigue and tension and you know, I think adrenaline of all of it like boiling down, minute by minute and, like the last time that we played it before we turned it in we were like it's perfect, it's cool.
ZL: Hahaha I just think lyrically like the way you opened up Acid Rap you talk about how rap's made you anxious and acid made you crazy. And then on this one you go straight in you're like talking about fatherhood and marriage and it's like wow, what a difference two or three years can make. Have you had enough perspective since you released Coloring Book to be able to realise the journey that you've been on? I know you threw it all into the album but now you've had a week or so to process that and you see how much life has changed.
CTR: Yea, I think that's the scariest part is not having the album to focus on as much because all of the real world problems aren't there you know. So me, you know, not paying attention to my health for months on months on end, you know, it's like all in your face or you know what I'm saying, your relationships, or
ZL: You've got real life to deal with now!
CTR: Yea! Real life is like
ZL: You had a great excuse before! You could go three days without answering a call now it's like, what's your excuse now Chance?
ZL: Haha, let's talk now about the themes of the record a bit, and the one that really jumps out to me, you know, is the relationship between art, music, faith and devotion right and the way that you brought church and religion to the record and we're gonna talk about that. But I want, you know, first of all on this record one of the first major statements that you make you know is that music's all we got. Now, this is something that we've all thrown around in various conversations because, either be in a lighthearted way like "music's all I know, it's all I'm passionate about" but this has more urgency to it and I wonder you know what the deeper meaning was, to you with that lyric that you and Kanye share on that opening track.
CTR: Well that, "music is all we got" is Kanye's lyric, right? So that record ["All We Got"] is perfect because it wasn't the first record that we made for it but just like "Good Ass Intro" it ended up being kinda like the thesis of the project right. So, I had made a lot of records and I have a record called "Finish Line" that was gonna be the intro, and
ZL: That's crazy to think about that now
CTR: Yea it's, that was a weird sequencing, I'm glad that's not how it ended up being, but that record is so much of the record because it talks about faith, it talks about, you know, there's other blessings in the world and on the album but, you know, at the end of the day music is what we have, you know what I'm saying, and you know we're blessed at all times but you know, waiting on your blessing or thinking that your blessing is in an album is not what it is, you know what I'm saying? It's, there is no higher miracle in this project or in any of the material things in the world, but the materials do exist. So the music is what we have, and I remember I flew out to L.A., this was only like two months ago and I met up with Donnie Trumpet and Nate Fox who made most of the music that I make and they, actually I wanna play it for you. So I had, I dunno how it's gonna sound in the interview but we had, they had a record that they were working on with
ZL: We're gonna record this anyway so we can put the real audio through
CTR: Ok, perfect. So, I was working on, or they were working on this record with Grace Weber who I am in love with, both musically and otherwise she's the best, and she, they had written the song for her for her album and she, and they played it for me and it sounded like this at first
Chance plays demo version of "All We Got"
CTR: Actually I haven't heard this in a long time! Right? Crazy! So the kicks were so different and it was so dancey
ZL: Yea, totally! It's way more uptempo and way more dancey
CTR: And, I remember when it got to this part where it says "woah, woah, woah, uh, uh, uh, uhhhh, uhhhh" but I heard this and was like this is, this is it.
ZL: Just that moment
CTR: After that I was like that's exactly what I need. So I was out here because Kanye had called me when I was in Chicago and said "I wanna help you in whatever way I can" and
ZL: This was, what was the timeline of
CTR: This was two months ago
ZL: Whoa so your work on Pablo is done
CTR: My work on Pablo is done and I'm working on my project now. I put a lot of time and effort into that album and learned a lot and gained a lot outta that and, but I think that there was a lot that Kanye had to do on his front, the same place that I am right now, where he was like ok, all my personal life and all the other things that I need to do
ZL: I need to let it go, I wanna get back in the process
CTR: Exactly. So he hit me and he said "I got you, I want you to come out for four days." And so like I said I got in, I went straight over to Nico's spot and they played me that record and I was like yo, I know this is for Grace, I need this. I need you guys to help make this work for me. And I asked them if it was ok if I brought it by Kanye. They said cool. So we all went over to Kanye's spot and within a few hours of sitting around and having all these deep conversations, cause that's what Kanye does is he, he does lectures and sh*t and they're all, they're all like very insightful and important and helped me out a lot and, but after about two hours of being there
Chance's phone rings
CTR: Aw sorry, my baby mama's FaceTiming me, I'll take it later. Ok I will real quick
ZL: Go for it
CTR: Let's see, aw my baby's in it too. Hey, I'm in this interview right now can I call you back babe? (Oh I'm sorry) It's ok love, bye. Um, now I can't remember cause she's gorgeous.
ZL: Exactly, exactly! Haha and therein lies the perspective of life, and therein lies, "all of this is total bullsh*t"
CTR: At all times haha
ZL: So you're hanging out with Kanye, he's giving you the deepness
CTR: I almost forgot, so he basically asked us to pull up the track, we pull it up, he starts doing his Kanye dance to it and he's like "Ok, I f*ck with it, take off all the drums." So I'm like "Ok, I don't really know what, what that means but we'll take off the drums." So now it's just horns, synth and Ye says uh, "pull out the MPC." So they bring out this MPC, almost like in like the gold suitcase, like from Pulp Fiction-
ZL: Ahhhh! Like Indiana Jones
CTR: like with just the [?]. And they put it on the table and he records drums in a way that I've never seen before he does everything live off the MPC. So, all of his patterns that you know he's-
ZL: So he's recording it like an organic drum kit, [?]
CTR: Exactly, but that makes, you know. As it plays now, the drums aren't like mixed separately it's like, all the kicks, all the hi-hats everything are at the same level and sh*t. But he does it literally in one take, so from top to bottom he goes, you know, he just stands there and just plays through it and plays all the drums that you hear on the track as they are now. And then less than 5 seconds after he does that one take through he goes through and freestyles over it.
Part 2. 10:00 to 20:47
CTR: There's this guy named Francis Starlite, who's
ZL: Francis And The Lights
CTR: Francis And The Lights, my god
ZL: Who by the way, vocally on this record shines and adds a texture of emotion that is just out of control
CTR: That's the one perpetual thing through the album that's just, is him and, I've heard a lot of sounds with harmoniser right, so one of my favourite things that I see on the internet is people commenting on the album as, you know, whenever they talk about this vocal sound that he's created they call it auto-tune. Or they say this sounds a lot like Bon Iver. Justin [Vernon, of Bon Iver], who Francis worked with and showed a lot of this musical styling to uses a very similar harmoniser effect. But there's a very special thing that Francis does that he called "prismiser," I love it, and it's gonna be on Kanye's album and it's on Frank's album but this prismiser thing that he does, he sings and takes a vocal and then very similar to a vocoder he, instead of being singular keys he builds chordal sounds around it, so it sounds like a choir. So when you first hear Ye's vocal come in it sounds like fifteen cyborgs all singing in auto-tune, but really it's one vocal with Francis saying, ok this is the third and the fifth and the seventh [?]
ZL: And he can play any note
CTR: Yea and he just builds a choir around it and it sounds like
ZL: Is that what happens at the end of "All We Got" as well so when it changes
CTR: That's him. So let me play you this freestyle that I got cause this is still crazy to me to this day
Chance plays second demo of "All We Got"
ZL: How long have you known Francis for?
CTR: So me and Francis met in, I wanna say 2013, maybe 2014, right after I dropped Acid Rap, I've always been a fran, a fan of Francis. These are those loud ass drums he put on here.
CTR: You know what I'm saying? This is just him, at the board, like this, like... So this vocal is solo right? And then... "music is all we got!"
CTR: Yea, like just off the top. "Bom bom BOMBOM." But this whole sound is like my favourite thing. Because it resembles the choir sound that I've been trying to get but it also makes it kinda futurist at the same time. You know? And, that's I think one of the encompassing ideas of the whole project cause that sound is on, Francis is credited on "Summer Friends" but he also did all of the Kanye vocals on it, he also does the end of "Same Drugs" there's a whole part that he does and even though it's not him playing on "How Great" my cousin Nicole came in and sang this lead vocal from "How Great Is Our God" and my homie Peter came in and did Francis' prismiser effect with his same harmoniser and preset that we learned from him and sh*t, and really makes it sound like a whole new thing
ZL: It's like new church hall almost, it sort brings a whole like you said modernises something which has been around for as long as
CTR: Exactly. I mean that's the whole process of this thing is like putting God back in, you know, God back in our hands
ZL: Let's talk about this real quick because what's interesting to me is when you think about artists, when you think about musicians in general, religion has always played a very strong part in peoples' lives. There's no mystery that faith in music and faith in God go hand-in-hand a lot of times. I can think of a lot of artists who are very religious but they guard it, they guard it privately for themselves probably cause they feel it should be a personal experience. And I'm sure that's the case in rap too, I'm positive of it. You know, you are, the devotion is on display on this record. That's really unique if you think about it, you're not hiding anything, it's very very open, you really are serving a purpose here.
CTR: Yea, I mean since I, I think, I mean all of this music that came from me moving to Los Angeles was a catalyst, I moved out here at the beginning of 2014 and stayed here only for about four of five months but in that time, I felt like I was kind of losing my God a little bit you know. And that separation got, I kind of got rid of the feeling by filling every morning, literally filling my whole neighbourhood with this Kirk Franklin sound we had the craziest speaker system, we used to have this giant house in L.A. called, uh, we would call it Coy Castle. It's this big dumb ass mansion that I should've never rented, we had the craziest speaker system in there and every morning starting at 6 am I'd wake up cause I'd be on Chicago time and we'd crank Kirk Franklin through the f*cking whole neighbourhood and that I think, and from that, you know, that was the time I started making a lot of this music two years ago and it kind of carried through and led me to understand, to know that my next project was going to be founded in God and founded in my faith. But I never really set out to make anything that could pretend to be New Gospel or pretend to be The Gospel. It's just I think music from me as a Christian man. I think before I was making music as a Christian child and like, and in both cases I have imperfections but I think there was a declaration that could be made out of going through all of the sh*t that I went through in the past two years.
ZL: Having been a Christian child and having been a Christian young man, what do you think, and this could be taken as a question, I'm interested in your perspective even if it's just a short one. What do you think God means to kids these days from your experience?
CTR: That's a really good question. I still think that God means everything to everyone whether they understand it or not or can really see for themselves where they find God, you know. But I don't necessarily, I know for a fact that, you know, we're not pushed or promoted to speak about God with fervor. I don't think that there's anything that really allows us to do it. But I think the new generation in the forward is all about freedom and all about the ability to do what we want and, you know, we're not free unless we can talk about God.
ZL: No you're all in, you're all in. You're all in.
CTR: Like let's go!
ZL: And the thing is when Kanye came out and said that Pablo is more of a gospel record then it is anything else and I think he's, that assessment was correct in that there are definitely gospel feelings to that record. You know did you guys discuss it when you were talking about the importance of bringing back the community in that sense or at least audio-wise and sonically the community, did you talk of that together?
CTR: Yea. Well I think me and Kanye both in the experience of working on The Life of Pablo both were able to grow and take things from it. And when I first came in, like I was two years ago, I was blasting Kirk Franklin. You know what I'm saying, I was blasting Fred Hammond, I was blasting Byron Cage and in that space Kanye was working on his album but he was also allowing me to play my album in front of all these people. And we had conversations about faith and had conversations about God. And I think when Kanye said that he was making a gospel album he did not mean gospel the genre at all. He's talking about literally the gospel in terms of telling a story. And repeating a historic happening and doc*menting it. And I think a lot of people kind of got lost in the fact that he had said it was a gospel album and I also rapped a whole bunch of historically Christian bars on that, right. But I think that the making of my album and the making of his album were very separate but connected in that we had a lot of good conversations together you know.
ZL: You seemed very connected on that record. I mean would you, I mean it feels good to me. Would you guys work on something together in that ilk? Have you talked about working together on something that's even more gospel related and bringing that faith together on record?
CTR: I think that the main thing that we wanna connect on is this project called Good Ass Job. Like that's a thing that we talked about a long time ago and I think everything that we've been working on together has been sort of a piece of it, whether we were together in the room or not I think my intro for Acid Rap was called "Good Ass Intro" and there's a sample from his Get Well Soon mixtape and in a lot of ways "All We Got" is the same thing. It wasn't necessarily that we sat down and wrote together in a room or that we bounced ideas in a traditional way. I literally like sampled Ye. I literally took what he gave me in a session of freestyles and and sat with it and worked with it and worked with it and he had given me all the pieces that I needed to make what I wanted to make. And so, I think moreso than like making a traditional project or making a traditional faith-filled project or anything like I think he just wanted to help me make the dopest sh*t that I could make.
Part 3. 20:48 - 30:57
CTR: You wanna hear this original version of "Waves" I made for Ye?
Chance plays original version of "Waves"
CTR: I had this big choir and this crazy arrangement for it, he took out all the choirs. He kept my verses but changed everything else.
ZL: That's crazy! That's crazy! Woooo! That's crazy
CTR: Ain't that funny?
ZL: So he came in and went "no, no, no"
CTR: "No no no no, yes." That was it. It was like "no no no no no. yes." Actually I also have a very funny verse from the "Nina Chop" song
Chance plays original version of "Famous/Nina Chop"
ZL: By the way, Swizz, this beat—unreal
CTR: Oh yea he went crazy! It was so funny cause I hated this beat when I first got it from him and then I was like, and then when we flipped it and I heard the final version I was like "he was right this is way hotter than what we were doing"
Chance plays his original verse from "Nina Chop"
ZL: I feel like you and Ye is like too good (Chance laughs) it's like it has to be some truth that's told here. Cause it's great that there's a collaborative nature to your relationship but
CTR: It's unfair isn't it?
ZL: Let's talk about the way that you released this record and the way that you've released records in the past. Much has been made of this independent streak and I think because even though we're moving into a new world some of the old traditions have come with us. When did you as an artist, or in fact even just as individuals realise that "free for everybody" was the path that you wanted to take, that this was the point of difference for you?
CTR: That's a good question Zane, haha. Well I think that the "free" part of it is more of an attention-grabbing thing and something that people can use as a marker to kinda track what I'm doing. Right? I mean since day one, since I was you know, fifteen, sixteen passing out mixtapes outside of my highschool I always gave them away for free and I'd get in trouble with my pops cause he'd work to get this money and then I'd spend it to make these and literally give it away. I would always explain though that I wanted to get it to as many people as possible. I think after 10 Day when I decided to make Acid Rap a mixtape and really like a really free mixtape, and really went away from a lot of the deals I was being offered it was kind of to throw out a beacon and let everybody see what could come of a free artist. And I wanted people to associate those words and to see, you know, an independent artists independence
ZL: Truly independent
CTR: And just so you know it's, I don't, it was never, you know, I wanted to look like, I was very special doing these things or like I'm the only one that could do these things really. It's all about demonstrating the abilities of a person with, you know, a good team around them and an idea of where they want to go.
ZL: You're still on the outside looking in and having success on your own terms, what does it look like to you because you're one of the only people that really is, from your standpoint.
CTR: Yea. I mean, sometimes it looks like a sweatshop. And, and I hate a lot of parts of it. But one of the things, if I can shoutout Kanye one more time that he helped me with, was the understanding that you can't look at these companies as entities. You know? These are all individual people making decisions and when people make wrong decisions you put a pressure to get that person pushed out but you don't completely down a company or an organisation. So, with that being said I don't agree with the way that labels are set up. I don't agree that anybody should sign 360 deals or sign away their publishing or do, or take most of the infrastructure that's included in a formal deal. But I've learned to not be like, you know, f*ck this company and f*ck this company, even though a lot of those people tried to make it really hard for me to release my project.
ZL: How do they do that? How do they make it hard, when you're independent, take your business to the point where if one more label tries to stop me. That it becomes a hook.
CTR: Well here's the thing, most people are signed, right? So, say, say you make a project and there's twelve Universal artists on it. And then not only do they find out after the fact that you've recorded with these artists and that you plan on making videos with these artists, but they find out also on top of it that you plan to release it for free. So that's when you get phone calls where people are trying to tell you that they own your friends, or that you can't make any decisions without them being a part of it. And you, you know. I only use Universal as an example because those are my people and they helped me get the project done. But, you know, for the people that aren't named, you know, there is that kind of interference that happens when you're trying to push something out that people feel like they own. You know? Or trying to give something away that people feel
ZL: Yea it's a lot of investors coming in after the fact
CTR: It's a lot of suits and ties of people that don't know how the f*ck to play notes telling you the value of what you're making or whatever you're doing.
ZL: Have you ever been tempted and I only raise it because there have been little hints along the way I mean even on the new record there's a couple of moments where you talk about you know "Kanye's best prodigy, he never signed me" and I wondered if that was ever on the table. And I think it's "Angels" where you say "f*ck it, maybe I should sign to OVO" was that that record where you said that?
CTR: Yea that is, that's, yea I mean I've had, everybody has had that conversation. We've had all the conversations. And what's funny is that some of those conversations still keep coming back. But with Kanye, it was cool because he did offer me a deal but still worked with me diligently, you know, after knowing that that wasn't what I wanted to do. And I used the word "prodigy" because I can't really, I wouldn't go as far to call myself Kanye's protégé because I didn't have that experience that some of my best friends got working right underneath him. I think that the word "prodigy" is cool cause like, I was just a kid that he knows, that, and I am still a kid and am still growing and don't you know, fully understand how everything works and my potential or what I'm going to do. But I'm, I had the insight of Ye being around me at the point where I've kind of already decided a path to be like "Yo, you should sign. No you're not gonna sign? Cool, let's get this money."
Part 4. 30:58 to 40:28
ZL: Yea. You could sell music independently, it's not like one goes without the other, there are a lot of independent artists who have sold their records and have sold them at a very competitive price in order to survive but also to not feel like you're causing anybody financial disservice as a fan. Why the decision not to sell this record still?
CTR: I think in part, a big part of it is that we are at such a crucial time in terms of music, I mean before, I know it's being highly publicised now, this, this, you know, the what is it the National Recording Arts and Sciences, I don't know what they're called, but those guys had been having a conversation I think up to at least a year ago about changing some of the verbage in their rules and how they're inclusive of, um
ZL: Awards, charts, all that kind of stuff. And there's been changes in streaming on the charts as well
CTR: Yea, so the charts are already changing, they're including streaming. I still don't necessarily agree with, how they, it's something like every 1,000 streams is a sale
ZL: Is like one purchase
CTR: Or something? I don't know, I don't really care about that. But at least they're making that move and I think the Grammys started making the move I think about a year ago they started voting on it, I don't know cause I don't really, I'm not on Grammy board anymore, but they uh
ZL: But you were!
CTR: Yea, back in the day! But they originally, or the wording is that they can't nominate a project unless it's released, unless it's a commercial release, right?
ZL: Right. And does it qualify now that you're on streaming?
CTR: No. But that's the thing, because of this timing I think it was important to have these mixtapes be trilogised and be a thing that existed. Regardless of how the revolution goes, you know, I know that I was not on the bus when everything was changing. You know what I'm saying? And I was like "f*ck it, I'm still dropping mixtapes." Now whatever's next, I don't really know, I've kind of, am a little turned off from making music right this second cause I'm still sick and sh*t, and I just did a project. But like, you know, I know that I did the three projects exactly how I wanted to and that they were mixtapes and that's where I came from.
ZL: Trilogy's perfect. Does it feel like now that cap has signified the end of that particular era for you, in some respects?
CTR: I think for sure. Like I mean I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm not making anymore mixtapes cause I, I like making mixtapes I might make a tape with Jay Electronica soon, I might make a tape with anybody, let me stop doing that.
ZL: I'm excited.
CTR: That's cool, and it'll be awesome but I think for sure that mode of projects was its own thing.
ZL: Yea for sure.
CTR: And I had to make certain statements because I was in the climate that I was in but will, like we were just saying, when 10 Day came out they didn't count streams. And
ZL: Thing's changed so much even since then.
CTR: Yea and I think everything will continue to change but I think we do have to think about being inclusive in terms of artists that don't necessarily have a label attached to them or want to release music commercially cause that doesn't have anything to do with artistic excellence, which is what they celebrate you know and because it's you know where this is the sh*t moving forward, you know it's gotta move forward but let sh*t change, you know what I'm saying?
ZL: Let's talk about Jay Electronica for a second
CTR: Yea, let's do that for a minute.
ZL: For a few minutes!
CTR: For a few minutes!
ZL: We talk about about Jay Elec. I mean, a guy who's sorta opens the door, comes into the room for a hot second lays waste and then disappears again. So to have him on a song as powerful as "How Great" is it still your favourite song on your work, it's really unbelievable man, you know real emotional, powerful piece of music. What I really love about that as well is just talking from a total rap nerd's point of view for a second is that you almost chameleon-like adopt his flow for a minute in the beginning
CTR: Oh yea completely
ZL: Deliberately, you know to create a synergy. I love that. I was listening to it and was like "is that Jay Elec?" at first and you were like "da, ba-da, ba-da, ba-da" that sort of like tripping flow that he does.
CTR: What is it? I'm trying to remember like, oh "Candyman, Candyman, spit me a dream." What is it? "Blow a chunk of the levee out and spit me a stream." Yea so that's, yea, but no I'm probably - I mean, somebody could fight me for it - but I feel like I'm Jay Electronica's biggest fan.
ZL: Haha now we're all in that line!
CTR: But it's, I've always been, you know what I'm saying very, for as long as I can remember like back to high school, I was "Jay Elec, very tough." And he's a very well-read, well-educated dude and-
ZL: When he speaks it's totally believable. Cause he's at that point in his life where, what he's talking about he's lived. That's unique.
CTR: Definitely. I mean, there's a line in his verse on the project where he says, he says, "Jay Elec would've never made it, O' son of man, O' son of man. Who is the angel that stood on Earth with a foot on water and a foot on land? Who is the angel that rode a Harley from the projects to the parliament?" And then that line I'm like "who is that angel?" cause you know he's dropping mad, spiritual text references, these are joints that you really have to look up, you might need somebody you has a degree in that sh*t to really know what the f*ck he's talking about. The last line about riding a Harley to the house of parliament, I mean that's not a reference that's his life he's talking about himself like that sh*t really happened. And I don't know when that happened or what that means but like that's Jay Electronica talking about some really, crazy spiritual sh*t that he's taking over and sh*t.
ZL: He's really one of the greats and I think in many respects as frustrating as it is for us while we sit around and wait around for more music it just adds to that, you know
CTR: Well I think this was The Prestige, if anybody knows what I'm talking about I think, or at least the beginning of the third Act, like he's in that space of like, you know, he had a song that I used to love where he has the sample, it's like Elijah Muhammad where he talks about, like a king has to, has to leave the people and go away and wait til he can come back and manifest, it's written, his time.
ZL: Let's talk about "Juke Jam" on the record, which is, which is one of those songs which, I've been reading a lot of press and reflections about the record and that one's bubbling up as people continue to analyse the album and pick their favourites, cause are going so deep on this on the thinking process or thought process. And "Juke Jam" is one of those songs that people are feeling.
CTR: Yea, and I love that. Isn't that weird though? Cause it's, well I guess it's, well that record is like very, very Chicago and like almost, you know, excluding, you know I was kind of worried that people wouldn't really connect to the record cause it's, you know, about a specific place that I think even certain Chicagoans don't know about I'm actually sure of certain Chicagoans don't know about.
ZL: Can you tell us more about it?
CTR: Yea, I mean when I was a shorty we used to go to this spot down the street from Avalon Park called The Rink and it was a roller rink but really it was a... Have you ever seen ATL? Probably not.
CTR: So there's like a movie called ATL and they go to Cascade and it's like, it's the same thing in that movie it's just like a place where like I did actually get into my first fight and got my first juke and, like, I, there's obviously a giant roller rink on the floor but it's about what's happening out by the lockers. That's like, that's like the world that we was in.
ZL: I think it's cool that you've involved Justin Bieber in that song because you two have a friendship that goes back and there was a key moment, I remember, reading about when you know you guys were on the same stage at Coachella and that was like a defining moment for both of you because what it did was it opened up the parameters of what was actually the perception of the two of you. It was like "why is Chance f*cking with Justin Bieber?" and then "why is Justin Bieber on stage with Chance?" and like how does it work? And like, it was kind of cool.
CTR: Yea that's my f*cking boy, like he's the sh*t and he's just very dope at everything that he does, at writing, at singing, he's an amazing vocalist.
ZL: How did you guys even meet? Like how did that happen?
CTR: How did me and Justin meet... Me and Justin met actually after we made "Confident" so I won't say that me and Justin were friends when we made "Confident" but I was a fan.
ZL: Of course you were, you wouldn't have jumped on if it wasn't.
CTR: Exactly. And we met at Coachella and hung out all day that day before I went on stage and it wasn't til, like right before I went on stage that he was like
ZL: That was the day you met?
CTR: That was the day I met him, we sat backstage and sm- and chilled
CTR: And, just chilled, and, then right before I went on stage he was like "you want me to come out for a song?" and I was like "yea let's have a dance battle." And we did
ZL: That's crazy
CTR: And he crushed me. But only cause I was so tired, I'd been performing the whole day
ZL: Real tired, like tired!
CTR: I'm cold, in real life! I probably just yelled on this microphone and sh*t
ZL: It's a cool record, I really dig it, I really like it. But you know what I also like is the fact that getting away from the famos for a second, and talking about, I wanna talk about some of the new people on the record too and you know the fact that you're always looking out for people that are gonna bring a different shade to what you do, a different vibe to what you do. You know Knox being a classic example.
Part 5. 40:29 to 50:01
CTR: Yea, so I mean, Knox Fortune is one of my favourite producers, he's like been in the background and produced on a lot of records that I worked on and a lot of records for my friends, and we you know, have a bunch of collaborations that didn't really see the light you know. But that one, that record ["All Night"] was so dope because I had it for like a week before he touched it, and it was just me talking on the record saying "All night, I been drinkin' all night, I been drinkin' all night." And he was like "yo let me touch that" and brought it back and it was, you know, I mean he's, he's Chicago, so
ZL: What is it about Chicago man? Like, I mean it's definitely one of the creative capitals in the world for music, you know you could put it right next to sort of a Manchester or a Liverpool, now of course people talk about Toronto having its moment, but you know there are places, Berlin, there are places where music lives. Why Chicago, why is it, having grown up in it?
CTR: I think, I mean one it's like just a very cultured place, like you know we have, you know Chicago's a big city but it's in the middle of Illinois. You know what I'm saying? And like, all of the suburban areas around us like kind of like create this wall of like, you know, inclusive sound and sh*t, and I think on top of that obviously it's just we've never had a music industry and I think because there was no industry or big labels posted there it gave everybody a lot of air to like make what the f*ck they wanted to make. And bred a lot of you know, just awesome talent across all genres.
ZL: There's one really funny lyric in there that made me smile on that song where you were like, "you just wanna talk politics and Chicago sh*t"
CTR: Yea yea
ZL: And that was just funny to me because it's like, ok you just released this records that's like totally dedicated to Chicago, all anyone's gonna wanna talk about is Chicago and now, you've opened the flood gates, this is it, this is your time, Chicago's the new favourite, here you go and already it's like you're already over it! Hahaha
CTR: Yea! Well, like that song, to me, is the best song that I've ever written because it's such an awesome concept. The idea behind it is that I'm at this party and there's women all over me and, you know, there's professionals in suits all over me, and, haha, people that are telling me they're my cousin and sh*t, and in my mind all everybody wants from me is a ride home. And I think that's just such a funny, stupid, concept, but to build off of it and to kind of make it connect in a way that, you know, "Now, oh now you wanna chill, now you wanna build" you know what I'm saying? "Now you got the bill." It's, it's
ZL: Gas money, cash money
CTR: Exactly. All of that sh*t is a fun concept I think because I do get f*cked up at parties and get paranoid and I think it's just really funny to bring it back to just everybody wanting a ride... "Oh you my cousin? No you wasn't" hahahaha
ZL: You made a record that is really a love letter for Chicago, it's a positive, uplifting, listen for a city that's been well doc*mented either by the conventional media, front-face media which I call like the real kind of, how would I call it, like a modern media like Vice have gone out there and done a piece on it, you've got movies that have been made about it I mean, there's a story about it being told right now. You've done it in a way that's uplifting, which kind of contradicts everyone else's take on it. And I wondered what the challenges were in creating such an uplifting, positive-sounding record during such a tumultuous time.
CTR: Yea. Well I mean there's definitely a challenge to it because it goes against public perception but it's not a stretch. I mean, Chicago's beautiful, people there are beautiful, events happening all the time, like beautiful music being made and, you know, there are like very dark shadowy parts of it and I think rather than, you know, Vice doc*mentary-style pointing at sh*t and being like isn't this weird, it's kind of like being, you know, just shedding light in all of those areas. Like, you know, we talk a lot about 79th on the record because I want people to walk down 79th and sing "79th" in a way that doesn't necessarily go with whatever Spike Lee made in Chiraq you know what I'm saying? And it's not a lie, you know what I'm saying, it's not like, you know, this this terrible, dystopic, place. I'm from there, you know what I'm saying, and I'm like the happiest, again, like I'm happy.
ZL: What was it like growing up there?
CTR: I mean, it's kind of hard because it was all I knew for so long, I didn't start travelling til I was like nineteen or twenty but like, it's super communal. Super small. Everybody's a person away from knowing someone. Everybody's cousin is somebody else's cousin. My mom graduated from Kenwood and I know like everybody in Hyde Park because of it. My dad graduated from [?] by my house because of it, was the block club president. So like I'm very intertwined in this city in terms of like, knowing people and knowing areas and sh*t.
ZL: Is there a movie to be made, I know like you were very vocal about you didn't like the way Chiraq presented the city, but is there a movie to be made and is it something you could see yourself being involved in, or in fact are involved in for all we know?
CTR: I mean, I'm not, hmm. That's a good question. I think that the media that I make now is dope for Chicago and I think there are amazing filmmakers in Chicago that could make some type of think-piece. I'm not, I wasn't critical of Chiraq for the simple fact that I thought I could make a better movie. I just didn't think that that was any type of representation of the city it felt like it was written about somewhere else, some fantastical place and then they just put it in my city. But, I think, my main goal right now is you now making music and I've kind of been getting into theatre a little bit like you know, I want to write some type of think-piece for the theatre but
ZL: Would you do that on script-level as well as musical? On multiple levels?
CTR: Yea, I mean like I really like screenwriting like that's not something that I'm foreign to at all.
ZL: And how many would you say that you've tried or attempted to write?
ZL: So you've finished two?
CTR: Yea, there's one that's about a Hallowe'en party and then there's one that's like an existential, like I don't know it's like an up in the air thing where there's like this guy... I don't wanna talk about that one, I don' t know that I'm actually making that one but the first one
ZL: Halloween party stupid, so we can call that by name
CTR: We'll call it The Stupid Halloween Party
ZL That's so fire, that's the sh*t, what an awesome name!
CTR: Haha no if I would've named it that
ZL: Back on the table, cause of the name
CTR: Let's go!
ZL: So as we sort of go through, this has been fun by the way
CTR: This has been awesome. I'm chillin, I keep forgetting we're in an interview
ZL: I want to talk about family, because we're both family men. I've got kids, you have a newborn, how old now?
CTR: She just turned 8 months on Monday
ZL: So this is, you've doc*mented this on the record which is again now, a lovely tone on the album, the honesty, and just the vulnerability and the heartfelt nature of it. And I read somewhere actually in an article that the cover artwork is a painting of you looking at your daughter as well. So, how has that experience been for you becoming a father?
CTR: I mean, it's the greatest happening of my life and, you know, feels a lot like the beginning of my life
ZL: Right? It's hard to think about what you did before! I have no idea
CTR: Yea it's crazy, tripping. But I mean it definitely comes with all, you know, a lot of hardships and sh*t you know and I think it's well doc*mented on the album. One of my favourite records is a song I made with Future on it called "Smoke Break" and I think Future was perfect for it cause he's a father too and that record, I remember I started making it and my girlfriend came in and she didn't like it at first, now it's her favourite song. But the song talks about, you know, it's another song that uses drugs as a metaphor for relationships or sex or whatever but you know, there really is a whole turning point in terms of your priorities and your schedule and we really did lose for a second, you know, the respect of time for ourselves and the respect of time to just take a break, put the baby down for a second and like, enjoy each other's company.
ZL: Having been in and around, somewhat of a political environment, albeit local body politics, in that situation and your dad working with Barack Obama when he was a senator and being exposed to that and I think that it makes sense now listening to your music and the way that you talk about Chicago from the point of view of Chicago as it comes from a community-driven place. What does it mean to you, or what do you think it means to a generation right now because I mean in essence I think a lot of artists are saying things that people probably look to politicians and policy makers to say. You know, and then in some respects those things aren't really that forthcoming from a lot of political circles, it seems to be in particular chaos right now internationally, politically.
Part 6. 50:02 to 60:53
CTR: Yea, I think there was always... you know, I think the word "politics" you know, sounds dirty to me, when I even think about it. But I never really saw my dad as working in politics, like whenever he, whenever I went to his job or he talked about what he was working on, I always saw, you know, that same idea of being a good man and working on projects that will help people. So when my dad took any job it was always kind of a state director position, or a head of community outreach, it was always about building a bigger communal space, networking with all the, all the, the heads of religious organisations, of community initiatives, being in contact with and always on with people that are trying to make a difference and being, spearheading, really, a lot of initiatives.
ZL: You must be proud man, do you know what he thinks about the record you just made and the music you play?
CTR: I hope so, I'm proud of my dad like that's what, that's what's so funny is he says he's proud of me all the time and that's like, that's a dope thing coming from somebody that moves sh*t in the physical you know what I'm saying. Versus like, I mean I do try and do physical sh*t but like I, my sh*t is like a lot more
ZL: Well you have to get physical now, we have to talk about the road bro. Because the album is done. And it's been a minute, do you think about it? Are you in plans?
CTR: Definitely. So I mean like, touring the music is going to be so easy just in terms of like the sound and pure audio of it and the sequencing of the show.
ZL: It will be you and The Experiment?
CTR: Yea. It's always gonna be me and The Experiment. That just works. You can't, you can't say, if it ain't broke. Do you know what I'm saying.
ZL: Is it gonna be The Experiment and extended family?
CTR: Probably. Yea. The last two shows I got to play with Francis And The Lights. People won't know that unless you were at those two shows but like, you know. And I know Francis is about to drop his album so I probably shouldn't even say that cause he probably won't be with me but still, you know.
ZL: Put it out there.
CTR: You know like I've always wanted to bring a bigger theatre feeling to Chicago. And when I say theatre I mean specifically like a Broadway sense like New York's theatre scene strives, thrives because they have Broadway and they have like a row of theatres and a very uplifted theatre scene. And I think
ZL: Is this something that will permeate through your terrain do you think?
CTR: I think it's on the other end of it just because it's a stagnant thing. I want to build a building that people come in to like see, you know like an attraction? Like the world's biggest [?] that's on the road somewhere and people drive to go see that.
ZL: How hard are you gonna tour this record, fans are gonna want to know. I mean you've been to Europe, you've been around America, you haven't been to Australasia, you haven't been to probably Asia?
CTR: So we'll be in Asia, Australia, New Zealand - can I say New Zealand and Australia or is that the same thing?
ZL: No they're not the same thing
CTR: I knew they're not the same thing, I just wanted to check with you Zane
ZL: Yep! We categorically confirm we are not the same thing! But we're friends!
CTR: And so, so New Zealand as well as Australia. Definitely gotta go back to Europe. And I think a very important thing that we're trying to work out right now is being in Africa outside of being in South Africa.
CTR: And then maybe we'll do something in America too. Possibly.
ZL: I hope so! You imagine making this record...
CTR: Wouldn't that be sick though?
ZL: ... just to not...
CTR: Make everyone else travel for it? That's the new thing is, you gotta travel for music. That's why festivals are dope cause people go out of their way to go see a festival, but that's the same sh*t I was just talking about.
ZL: When's the touring gonna start? Do you know?
CTR: I do know. I guess when this comes out the tickets will probably already drop so September.
ZL: I got a couple quick fire things to get through before we get up and out of here then let's get some fresh air. So number one, you mentioned something the other day when you were doing your Reddit questionnaire you mentioned about the Childish Gambino mixtape, is that ever gonna see the light of day?
CTR: Yea, I know for a fact that it's gonna come out by fall, I think
ZL: He's all nervous now I put him on the spot
CTR: The thing is, I don't wanna say too much, Donald is like my older brother and like, I can say some sh*t that will get me in trouble. He's working on his TV show so I should say that first. And Atlanta's amazing, he's out there right now finishing up the TV show and the tape is not done, or close to being done. But it will come out.
ZL: You've got some skin in the game.
ZL: "No Problem," we have to talk about "No Problem" because it is without a doubt one of the best songs of the year within the framework of the album.
CTR: Thank you.
ZL: I think I played it for like thirty minutes straight when we played it on Beats.
CTR: You did. And thank you for that.
ZL: Thank you.
CTR: I got a lot of tweets about it they said they liked that.
ZL: No the song's incredible obviously brining 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne into it and creating such a really great chemistry on that record. It isn't always easy when you've got you know guest bars coming in, sometimes it can feel as though it's been sent in my tape or whatever, or digitally. Tell us about that song, tell as what that song means to you and, people have never heard you talk about it.
CTR: Yea I mean that song is everything that it's supposed to sound like, it's supposed to sound like the smash record that came from "the other," you know what I'm saying? It's supposed to feel like what this year is supposed to feel like when we take a chance on "the other" and f*ck with, you know what I'm saying, some dope sh*t that came organically. And it is banging on the doors of all of those labels and letting them know, like, literally and figuratively, like don't tweak. Stop trying to stop what I'm doing, you know, I'm over here, you're over there, do your thing. But like in both ways don't keep doing it.
ZL: But, I'm gonna say it over the biggest hit record of my career to date
CTR: Yea, well I mean that's the way that you say some sh*t, I mean I can't say it quietly in an email or like it's, I think that it meant the most to me to have, you know, to have Wayne come on there and speak what he spoke
ZL: Great, great verse too
CTR: Yea, I mean it still f*cking scares me to this day to see that I have two records now with Lil Wayne. But, you know what I'm saying, I think to have him come in it and have him backing it up, cause there is a Chicago version of that record that will come out at some point and it does have, you know what I'm saying, the people I wanted to have on the record, but this version made sense for the album
ZL: Chicago people?
CTR: Yea, I don't need to say who it is, it'll come out. But it's huge. It's having them do it, I think people that are juggernauts in the game stand next to me and also say like don't tweak on him. You know what I'm saying? I think it was poignant and it made its way to everyones' ears that it was supposed to.
ZL: Who's Big Fella?
CTR: Oh, so you don't know who Ha Ha Davis is? Of course you don't know who Ha Ha Davis is. Ha Ha Davis is the f*cking funniest of all time. And he's from Detroit and you know what I'm saying he's just like a comedian, a new age comedian so he's on Instagram, is where we all watch him from. But I've been a fan, everybody in Chicago says "big fella" cause its some Midwest sh*t at this point, it's some South sh*t now too like everyone says "big fella." But I was a fan and I hit him up, I think a week before we went to Atlanta, or actually like two days before we went to Atlanta to shoot the "No Problem" video. And I was like "yo, will you come with me just rock with me" and we went out and just hung out together and met people together and now he's one of my closest friends. After he was in the video, I was like "yo, will you narrate this whole project?" So he was on four out of like fifteen of the, well he was on "Grown Ass Kid," his main monologue is on "Grown Ass Kid" which, the labels, they stopped me. It didn't make it on the project.
ZL: Can you just get it out anyway? Just find a home for it?
CTR: I actually found out recently that the record leaked and it's online but its official release is gonna be on Cam O'bi's project who's one of my favourite producers and did, he did "Good Ass Outro," the outro from Acid Rap and "Blessings" on this new project, like the reprise. And he did three records on this project that all got stopped.
ZL: So much stopping
ZL: No more stopping.
CTR: Yea, don't try anything anymore.
ZL: No more.
CTR: Can I show you this Big Sean song that was supposed to be on the project that got stopped? You probably couldn't play it on the broadcast cause it wasn't a cleared single.
Broadcast paused while Chance plays song privately
ZL: It's interesting cause like, to me it's dope as hell like I love that but it's funny now listening to Coloring Book
CTR: You feel it wouldn't have fit?
ZL: It feels like
CTR: Everything happens for a reason.
ZL: Crazy right? Still man, hearing you and Sean together.
CTR: It would've been perfect. It's funny cause Sean, Jeremih and Cole all tour together and those are like my three best friends in music. And we had three songs altogether that were all collaborative songs and they all got stopped. Luckily, Jeremih still ended up on "Summer Friends" but Jeremih was on like three or four songs on Coloring Book.
ZL: Man, the more you tell it the more I realise like we're lucky we got anything at all.
ZL: Out of the guests at least, it'll sure
CTR: It'll never happen like that again though. All it takes is, is, I think the growth of the artists, plural, and the retraction of the control, and then... I don't think, I don't think there will ever be a release again from me that feels controlled.
ZL: You don't want zero problems.
CTR: They definitely don't want a single one.
ZL: Hahaha. Love you man.
CTR: Thank you
ZL: Thank you
CTR: Naw, this was awesome.