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Chance the Rapper on Chicago: ‘This is where I’m supposed to be’

Chance the Rapper watches the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns play Friday at the United Center. | Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Grammy Award-winner Chance the Rapper sat down with journalist Katie Couric last week for an exclusive interview at one of his favorite Chicago haunts, Harold’s Chicken Shack on West 87th Street. Among the topics discussed for Yahoo News were the historic Grammy wins, why he has never signed to a label, Chicago violence, and why he always wears a hat.

Among the highlights of their chat (with video clips):

Growing up and living in Chicago:

“I feel a certain, you know, duty to Chicago and to my family that lives here and to the people I grew up with that live here and people that I don’t know that live here. I’m a plant. If you uproot a plant and put that somewhere else, it’s not going grow the same, you know? So I this is where I’m supposed to be and where I’m supposed to grow and figure out what I’m supposed to be.”

On Chicago violence:

“What is going on is bogus. I think, like, as individual acts, it’s you know, it’s terrifying and also sad. Our schooling system has been underfunded for the past two years. We have some of the strictest gun laws as a state. But we’re there’s a lot of illegal gun trafficking coming from all the states that surround us. I think it takes an investment in everyone’s lives. The respect for life is little than none in the city because we don’t really feel like people care about us. There’s a lot of things that I wasn’t exposed to or didn’t understand or know about until I went downtown. It’s literally like a different city over there. The violence in Chicago is isolated to certain parts. And maybe if that violence moved outside of those same parameters, maybe people would feel like it’s important to do something or take action. It would be dope if all the politicians on the left and right could approve a temporary budget that could fund after-school programs at the schools. I like to work at the earliest level of it and get people involved in jobs an in schooling and in the arts early. You don’t have any respect for life if you don’t have anything going on, you know? Or respect for anyone else’s life if you don’t have anything going on. But then, again, I am also just a rapper from Chicago. I don’t really have all the answers. What we’re trying to do is use our influence and work with you know, these different communities at a really engaged, interactive level… I don’t like politics. I think politics is the reason why a lot of stuff doesn’t get done. But yeah, I’ll always try and be engaged in, you know, what’s going on in the city.”

On why he considers Kanye, Barack Obama and Dave Chappelle to be his Godfathers:

“I think I’ve always wanted to be like Kanye, since I was probably… since I first heard him, like 10 or 11 years old when that happened. There’s a lot of other people, that I did know, but knew of growing up, that I consider now to be Godfathers, but they were always influential in my life. Three guys actually: Kayne West, Barack Obama, and Dave Chappelle. And all three of those people are men who I would consider fearless and compassionate. And hold a lot of characteristics and qualities that my dad has. And what’s awesome is that now that I’m in this part of my life. I’ve met all of them and know them all really well. And they’ve all kind of accepted me with like, with sort of this role and responsibility where they give me great encouragement and also great advice. I don’t want to be exactly like any one of those three guys, but there’s a lot of things that I admire and things that I aspire to be like that’s based off of who they are as people.”

About that iconic ‘No.3″ hat, a smiling Chance told Couric: “I feel like I have a weird head shape. There’s only brain under here [he motions to his head]. … I sleep in this hat. Take showers and baths in this hat.”

You can watch the entire interview on Yahoo News.