Last Year’s Rank: 3
Last week, a tweet went viral. It was from a Chance the Rapper parody account, if you extend the definition of parody to include imitating a famous person closely enough to trick readers and hopefully make some money once the audience gets big enough. In @Chancefrom79th’s defense, its tweet was a pitch-perfect imitation of what Chance has become: a reassuring, earnest missive about Doing The Right Thing. It was also an indication of how Chance has become a figurehead in the celebrity world: the fake tweet has over 241,000 retweets.
Much can be made of Chance’s public persona—the young man striving to change the world—and the die-hard support that’s growing for him, as well as the inevitable backlash brewing on the horizon. But the truth is, all of it would be moot if he wasn’t a great artist. 2016 was a coup d’etat for the young Chicago rapper, a blowing open of doors from underground to mainstream that hasn’t been seen since Drake and Kendrick. And, like Drake and Kendrick, it was on the back of some fantastic music.
Coloring Book was one of the best albums of the year, and if there was ever any doubt that his gospel-tinged turns into singing tempted anyone to believe Chance wasn’t nice on the mic, his guest turns on others’ songs proved that he can hold his own with the best. And, if the clips Chance has been sharing on social media are any indication, whatever he’s going to be cooking up next will mean he stays at the top spot for a while to come. —Brendan Klinkenberg