The "Chicagoan of the Year" award is a prestigious, annual recognition of five residents of Chicago that have made extraordinary contributions to their city and abroad given by Chicago Magazine. This year, Chance The Rapper has been chosen as a "Chicagoan of the Year" for his meteoric rise in the industry, family life, and advocacy for his community. Chance made a name for himself with his mixtape Acid Rap, which introduced the community to a socially minded, musically gifted individual who wasn't going to let the world forget about his home city. Rapping on the track "Paranoia" from Acid Rap, Chance says, "They murking kids; they murder kids here. Why you think they don't talk about it? They deserted us here. Where the f*ck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric in here." The mixtape earned rave reviews and catapulted Chance to a new stratosphere of fame and recognition.
Chance continued on his path to success, while remaining mindful of his community, and released Surf with his backing band Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. The album, too, earned Chance phenomenal reviews, and cemented his position as a musical innovator and icon.
Regarding his inclination to always stay independent, Chance told Chicago Magazine, "It's about making a statement that we're in control as artists. There's still that question when people meet you and see that you're doing well, 'Who are you signed to? Who put you on?' F*ck that. I'm Black, and I did it myself."
Chance's desire to represent both himself and his community has played a large part in his musical success and public persona. As a way of giving back to his hometown, Chance organizes a talent show in honor of the deceased poet Mike Hawkins. After performing at the event, entitled "Open Mikes," Chance told the crowd, "Since we first started doing the 'Open Mikes,' I've tried to make the point not to have me or the other staff members perform. We didn't want it to feel like there was a time for you to perform and then a time for us to perform. I know how hard it is to come up onstage and say a poem that only you know or do a dance that only you've seen before. So I want to show you that I'm just as vulnerable as you guys."