Chicago's hip-hop scene had a banner year last year. As one of America's most segregated metropolises, the city underwent a renaissance in 2012 at basically every level. Chief Keef gained much of the initial attention, and he came from an entire scene that was flourishing, but Chicago—split by geography, race, economics, gangs and even tiered school systems—has a number of thriving hip-hop movements.

One of the most successful was that of Chance the Rapper, an especially skilled technician with a wide variety of influences, a sixth sense for melody and craft, and impeccable stage presence. He doesn't just rap; he's a songwriter, with a particularly smart, self-aware, and generally sincere approach.

His record #10Day was locally acclaimed, and deserved much of the praise it has received, but based on the songs that have leaked so far from his follow-up, Acid Rap, due out April 30, could end up being a big crossover moment. His style has matured, but he retains the hungry, excited feel that characterizes all of his best work.

But who is Chance the Rapper?

As told to David Drake (@somanyshrimp)

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