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Has Chance the Rapper’s Rapid Rise Taken a Toll?

Loyola professor and psychologist Scott Leon puts the 21-year-old MC on the couch by examining his recent lyrics.

Photos: (Chance the Rapper) Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; (Arthur) Courtesy of PBS; all others Getty Images; Illustration: Gluekit

It’s been a year and a half since Chancelor Bennett’s tell-all mixtape Acid Rap launched him to global stardom and unanimous acclaim. But since then, the rapper’s output has been limited to a handful of digital singles. To get a sense of how fame has affected the 21-year-old singer, Chicago asked Loyola psychologist Scott Leon to analyze some of Chance’s recent lyrics—anything released between Acid Rap and now. Here’s what he said.

“I Am Very Very Lonely”

Leon: The title suggests he’s feeling alone and fatigued from his success. My guess is that’s a really common experience. Managing one’s success is very difficult.

This is not the castle this is just the casa tonight / Ain’t no Nala so my Simba ain’t gon’ be Mufasa tonight

Leon: Mufasa is the active, aggressive man, but he doesn’t want to be Mufasa. He wants to be Simba. He just wants somebody to come over and take care of him. It’s the fantasy of the booty call.

“Home Studio”

I’m the only minor minority in priority / Sippin’ gin and tonic while I plot upon authority / Author of my horoscope, feeling like the oracle

Leon: This is the height of his bravado and grandiosity: “I am the master of my own fate.” A record label is not going to tell him what to do. But even he knows that’s not totally true. In other songs, he downsizes this extreme self-sufficiency.

“Wonderful Everyday: Arthur” (a cover of the theme song from the PBS cartoon Arthur)

I’m gonna get by when the going get rough / I’m gonna love life ’til I’m done growing up / And when I go down / I’mma go down swinging / My eyes still smiling / And my heart still singing

Leon: He was doubted quite a bit when he was young, so his psychological resilience and perseverance started early on. They’re strengths that come from his childhood.

“No Better Blues”

I hate my bed, I hate my home, I hate my job / I hate the wife, I hate the kids, I hate the dog / I hate the sun, I hate the rain, I hate the clouds / I hate the TV, hate the dinner, hate the couch

Leon: He’s taking everything that a person could want and rebelling against it. He’s saying, “I hate my desire.”

I hate the womb, I needed room, I ate my twin

Leon: A womb fantasy is usually of being totally taken care of, like a helpless baby. He’s having the opposite of that. He’s saying, “I hate the need to be taken care of and dependent.”

 

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