Chance the Rapper spurs millennial voters

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Amid cheers of “F–k Donald Trump” and singalongs to the hit song “No Problem,” Chance the Rapper led thousands of young voters to the Loop’s early voting super site at 15 W. Washington St. in his Parade to the Polls event Nov. 7. 

Chance the Rapper, a Chicago native, hosted a free concert event featuring DJ Odd Couple, rock band Twin Peaks, rapper Malcolm London and more at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park. Though the concert’s location was moved from the Virgin Hotel Chicago, 2013 N. Wabash Ave., hours before it began, a massive crowd still showed up to the party.

Volunteer security guards had trouble keeping the barricades in front of the stage from falling over while the attendees went wild during the performances, especially during Twin Peaks’ and Chance’s sets.

After his surprise three-song set, Chance went offstage and began the parade. Police struggled to keep everyone on the sidewalks as they howled and jeered with excitement. 

“We can walk up and down the sidewalk, but we have to stay off the street,” Chance said between songs. “I tried to get the street closed off, but it’s too expensive.”

The local rapper was surrounded by security at the head of the parade, pumping the crowd up and raising his fists in the air in triumph.

The police escorts eventually let paradegoers shut down the streets, halting traffic and leaving onlookers confused. One parader explained the situation to a woman as the crowd chanted, “F–k Donald Trump.” 

She said she could not understand what the crowd was saying and was unsure as to whether the crowd was in support of Hillary Clinton or Trump.

“I think it’s safe to say Hillary Clinton,” the man said to her.

Despite the partisan views the crowd expressed, Chance insisted during his set that the event was nonpartisan, and its only purpose was to get young people excited about voting. 

Morgan Lightle, an 18-year-old car porter, said he thought Chance’s rally would have a “big impact on the election.”

“If I’m somebody that’s going to vote right now, then you know it’s doing positive things,” Lightle said.

Even though Clinton, Chance’s preferred candidate, lost to Trump, his involvement helped shatter Chicago’s early voting record. There were about 400,000 early voters in Chicago this year as opposed to the previous record of 260,000 in 2008, according to a Nov. 8 article from Associated Press.

“It’s important for young people to realize that we can create the world we want to live in,” said Izzy Aimone, a junior art & art history major present at the parade. “We don’t have to live in what the past generations did. Society and the economy are always changing, and we need to realize that and make sure it fits us and our needs.”

Taylor Bennett, another performer at Parade to the Polls and Chance the Rapper’s brother, said he was proud of what the event accomplished. He added that while some people may feel their vote did not matter, they should still let their voices be heard.

“Next time, we want to move a nation,” Bennett said. “We need to do this 10 times [larger].”

The crowd was made up of mostly young people, and Bennett said he was impressed by their willingness to vote and excitement about the election, especially if it was their first time. He said none of the performers were paid for their appearances.

“It touched me,” he said. “I’m glad that everybody went out and spoke their voice, got a chance to be heard. Always keep voting. Always know that your voice actually matters.”

For additional photo coverage of the event, click here.