It’s an undeniable fact that Chance the Rapper is one of the hottest young stars in today’s music world—but it wasn’t always like that. Everyone has to start from somewhere, and for Lil Chano from 79th, it all began in a public library in Chicago. In the above clip, a 17-year old Chance raps out one of his earliest songs, appropriately titled “Nostalgia” from his very first mixtape 10 Day. It’s a stunning portrait of a young artist developing his talent before our very eyes.
There are a few striking things about this video. First, where’s the White Sox hat? Yeah, it’s a small thing, but it’s frankly weird to see Chance without his signature piece of gear. Second, how incredible are those two ladies in the background pulling books off shelves, seemingly unaware of the excellence taking place right behind them? How good could that book be, really? Third, Chance sounds damn good! Remember: He’s only 17 years old here, but his flow is dominate. It’s maybe not as bombastic or attention-grabbing as it would become over time, but he’s certainly got some skills here.
In an interview from a few years back, Chance talked about how important those early YOUmedia open mic events were to his development. “The majority of the dope, young artists that are in Chicago came out of that b—h. I came out of there, Vic Mensa, Nico from Kids These Days,” he recalled. “It was a really ill thing because it was smack in the center of downtown, so anybody from any school could come there because every train comes to the loop [downtown]. I met damn near all the producers on #10Day through this library.”
From the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, performing in front of a handful of people, to dancing and rapping for millions on the Saturday Night Live stage and the Billboard Top-10 with his latest tape Coloring Book, it’s incredible to think how far Chance has come in only five years.