Chance the Rapper; Photo: N/AHeralded as an emerging force within Chicago’s new school, 20-year-old Chancelor Bennett (a.k.a. Chance the Rapper) represents a seldom seen, criminally slept on, faction of Windy City lyricists – a collective of writers that are influenced by, but not totally trapped within the city limits.

His debut mixtape 10 Day was a brief yet poignant introduction to the burgeoning star. At times he sounded his age like on “Fuck You Tahm About“, which is essentially a giant middle finger aimed at high school. But in other instances like “Nostalgia” he showed just how thoughtful he can be as a wordsmith: [LISTEN]

From diapers to outfits to castles to Elmos
From Santas to grandmas to Gameboys and cellphones
Rocked your world, fourth grade talent show
Jada and Justin’s birthday magic show

He can be a brash juvenile one moment and a thoughtful wonder kid the next, the real Chance lying somewhere in between. But with some sage advice from industry folks like Kevin Coval of Young Chicago Authors and Alexander Fruchter formerly of Ruby Hornet, Chance has articulated those experiences into an engaging narrative. “14,400,” the exact amount of minutes he was suspended from high school, captures the obstacles he’s faced so far as an aspiring writer: [LISTEN]

They took my nigga one night, and I was standing right there
An inch away from heaven, a million songs from right here
A step away from South By, a swing away from Cali
A hook away from verses, I’m a dad away from rapping

Chance is still figuring things out, and his latest mixtape Acid Rap is another step in the right direction. Consider it an extension of 10 Day, but with a little more seasoning. The divide between Chancelor Bennett and Chance the Rapper are even more pronounced on Acid Rap, and it makes for some compelling lyricism. He raps about everything from Flaming Hot Cheetos and Kiwi Mistic (“Smoke Again“) to the troubled streets of Chicago (Pusha Man): [LISTEN]

They be shooting whether it’s dark or not, I mean the days is pretty dark a lot
Down here it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a fucking parking spot
No love for the opposition, specifically a cop position
Cause they’ve never been in our position

Chance has been everywhere lately and he’s poised for a breakout. He’s been recognized by pretty much every major news outlet in Chicago, and just missed making the XXL Freshmen List (think McDonald’s All American but for rap). Missing the cut, however, hasn’t slowed him down. The upside is endless – he’ll be performing at this years Lollapalooza – and as of right now he’s sitting pretty waiting for yet another chance to prove his worth as a marquee lyricist:

I used to be worse than worthless
Now I’m worth hooks and verses
I’m good like books in churches
Harolds and Hooks and Churches