“This has been a healing process for me,” Chance the Rapper said Monday night while wrapping up a sold-out conversation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago as part of the MCA’s In Sight Out series, co-sponsored by Pitchfork and MailChimp.
Moderated by former Chicago Sun-Times journalist Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, it was rescheduled from a November date and effectively covered the gamut of topics that have come to define the Chicago rapper, born Chancelor Bennett, from his music to acting, social activism and politics.
“Who would you endorse as a candidate?” one person asked, regarding the ongoing gubernatorial race during the audience Q&A portion. “They need to schedule a meeting with me, tell me what you’re really about,” Bennett said. “I’m not trying to be a politician but I’ll stand with who that is and has that voice.”
Bennett was not as covert about his feelings for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, being among the committee to vote on the recent Chicago Public School closings, saying he felt “cheated, angry, vengeful” about the decision and the fact that no one is coming forward to talk about the “inequality and unfairness, the violations of the city and the f***ed up system,” also referencing the “scathing” Department of Justice Review on the Chicago Police Department.
“This is my entry to change it all,” he continued about his ongoing contributions to the students of CPS and the city’s residents.
“I’m gonna live in Chicago until the day I die, and I may go away a bit and tour but I’ll always come back and lobby for y’all.” He also mentioned plans about expanding his SocialWorks nonprofit in China and Africa in the coming months.
There were moments of levity in the conversation as well: Bennett accepting a save the date wedding invitation from a woman in the front row and seemingly offering another woman a job. The MCA coordinator said it was one of “the most engaged crowds” she had seen at one of these talks. Bennett also discussed his home art collection, which includes a couple of Hebru Brantley paintings and an original Michael Jackson drawing recently gifted to him by his long-time manager Pat Corcoran.
Much of the conversation focused on entertainment, though. Bennett talked about his recent stint on “Saturday Night Live,” saying it was a personal dream of his since he first saw MC Hammer on the program and discussed how he wrote several skits, two of which made it to air: the Steve Harvey “Family Feud” sketch and the “Batman Thanksgiving” sketch.
When Gibbs brought up the idea of Bennett starring in a reboot of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” he quickly turned that down but gave a definite “yes” to more acting, referencing the much anticipated horror movie “Slice,” which he admitted is done but couldn’t confirm its release date. Bennett also pussyfooted around the question of working on new music with fellow Chicagoan Kanye West. “Nobody knows what Kanye’s going to do next,” he joked.
One of the most touching moments was when Bennett answered a question about the emotional video he posted when his three Grammys arrived in the mail a few months ago. “I’m a thug, I never cry,” he joked, admitting to being overcome in the moment after holding his Grammys in one arm and his daughter in the other, which he said became a proverbial scale for what was more important in his life.
Frequently referring to his daughter and his mother throughout the night, Bennett later commented on the Twitter tangle he was involved in last week with his thoughts about actress Monique’s inability to get work and his belief that black women deserve better.
“I can’t call myself free or feel liberated unless black women are liberated,” he said to a roar of applause.
Perhaps recognizing that the conversation steered to the many projects he’s involved in currently, he also assured the crowd before the night was over, “I’m not done rapping though, that’s my favorite way to express myself.”