Disruption known as Chance the Rapper

LaToya Pickett

During my first few weeks with MEPR Agency, I have learned a ton of things; from the many aspects of the public relations industry to just learning more about myself as a person. 

I’ve had several a-ha moments. One of the clearest lessons came from car ride with the team. The radio was playing and a song I knew and liked came up. It was Chance, the Rapper.

Some of the world was introduced to him when Beyoncé crashed his MTV news interview after the VMAS. He had a fan moment we’d all have if in that situation.

Source: Giphy and Marie Claire The epic moment when Beyonce crashed Chance the Rapper's interview with MTV News after the 2016 VMAs. 

Source: Giphy and Marie Claire

The epic moment when Beyonce crashed Chance the Rapper's interview with MTV News after the 2016 VMAs. 

But Chance, the Rapper is so much more than that moment. He’s actually becoming known as a revolutionary in the music industry.

Chance’s career started after being suspended from school. While suspended for 10 days, he recorded his first mixtape, 10 Day in 2011. He went front student to artist and was featured on both Complex and Forbes. Yes, Forbes.

He then went on to release his critically acclaimed mixtape, Acid Rap in 2013, which received over one million downloads; Surf, in 2015, that featured his group, The Social Experiment; and most recently, Coloring book, which was streamed over 57.3 million times.

What do these projects all have in common?

Mixtapes.

He’s developed a sustainable career, that includes being listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2015, lecturing at Harvard’s Hip-hop Archive & Research Institute and President Obama featuring Acid Rain on his summertime playlist, all on the back of a mixtape. Not to mention, he was selected to pay tribute to Muhammad Ali on the ESPYs.

So let me break down why Chance’s disruptive approach should give you excitement about your own “different” way of doing things.

In today’s industry, 99.99 percent of the rappers – well maybe that’s a little unfair - you like all use the same format:

1.     Young, talented and undiscovered

2.     They release a  great mixtape that peaks the attention of the hip hop community through blog posts and causal discussion among hip hop lovers.

3.     They get discovered, either by a hip hop legend or a big music label

4.     Release their debut album, which they will claim as the album of their life

5.     Fame. Their music is everywhere, on the radio, YouTube and music channels

6.     Grammy nominations for their work, which either they win or get snub by the “convenient” rapper (I still am upset about the Grammy’s circa 2014…sorry Kendrick Lamar.)

7.     Continues to flourish as an international star and may have a hot pop singer on their arm

Just think about your favorite rapper. Doesn’t this formulate match their career?

Well in Chance the Rapper’s case, he surpassed the most important steps listed (3-4). He has remained an independent artist.

Yes, most artists desire to remain independent but it’s extremely hard and not a common route.  It takes endless amount of money and willpower—a machine of many people to maintain a flourishing music career.

Described graciously in the Jan. 2015 Fader cover story, “Labels swarmed, and Chance respectfully declined their offers, choosing instead to continue with an amorphously defined indie approach of selling merch but not music, touring vigorously and doing whatever the hell he wants in the time off. “

Doing “whatever the hell he wants” has especially shown up in his Grammy’s experience.

Up until June of this year, the Grammys had regulations that stipulated albums have to be commercially sold to be considered for a nomination. However, Chance’s approach of generating music required the Grammy’s to revise those regulations. Because of him, if an album is released through streaming services it is now eligible for nominations at the Grammy’s. Chance required – without saying a word, aside from rapping – the industry to take note.

He is unwavering in his compromise.  

In our world of public relations, and even in the business world, to be remarkable there has to be a willingness to disrupt business as usual.

Here, at MEPR Agency, we were one of the first PR firms to embrace social and digital media, and our approach is to treat each client as the media. We believe that regardless if traditional outlets cover a story, the narrative still exists and deserves to be told. We are not a press release mill.

We are disruptive by understanding the needs of the client rather than fitting them in a pool of standards just because others do it.

What are about your services would you consider is truly yours and disruptive?