Chicago’s Chance the Rapper made Grammy Award history Sunday night, winning the Grammy for best rap album for “Coloring Book,” the first time the accolade has gone to a streamed-only album.
The singer, nominated in seven categories, picked up three statuettes for his work featured on the album, including best new artist and best rap performance for “No Problem” with 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne. A Grammy rule change announced last year allowed streamed-only recordings to be eligible for nominations. Chance has never signed with a label and has made a career out of releasing his music for free.
Sporting his signature “No. 3″ hat, the singer could not hide his excitement as he accepted the award for best new artist. “Glory be to God, I claim this victory in the name of the Lord!,” he joyously shouted from the stage of the Staples Center. “I wanna thank God for my mother and my father who supported me since I was young … and for Chicago!”
Earlier in the day, he called his pre-televised Grammy win for best rap performance “crazy,” adding, “I love my family, I love God, and I love music,” then turning around to reveal a “44 Obama” on the back of his hoodie (from his recently launched “Thank U Obama” clothing line). On the Red Carpet, Chance gave a shout-out to his family “watching back in Chicago,” singling out his 16-month-old daughter, Kensli.
Chance also performed on the telecast, joining gospel artists Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann for a medley of “How Great” and “All We Got,” joined by a full orchestra and gospel choir.
Other Chicago winners (presented prior to the telecast) included Lalah Hathaway, who picked up Grammy wins for best traditional R&B performance for “Angel,” and best R&B album for “Lalah Hathaway Live,” beating out fellow Chicagoan BJ the Chicago Kid, who was nominated in the same categories. Jennifer Hudson was among the ensemble win for best musical theater album for the Broadway cast recording of “The Color Purple.” Third Coast Percussion picked up a win for best chamber music/small ensemble performance.
In her acceptance speech for best traditional R&B performance, Hathaway thanked R&B/jazz great Anita Baker “for leaving me such a beautiful blueprint to follow,” and then she lifted her eyes to the heavens and said “God bless you, Al Jarreau,” in honor of the Grammy-winning jazz legend who passed away earlier in the day.
First-time Grammy nominee, Chicago folk/roots singer Robbie Fulks, was shut out in both of the categories in which he was nominated, best folk album and best American roots song.