If you're a fan of hip-hop then you would have seen that Chance The Rapper is everywhere this week. And with, good reason because the Chicago native has become the first artist in history to chart on Billboard 200 based purely on streams. Just who is Chance The Rapper and how has he managed to enter history books so effortlessly?
The 23-year-old rapper, real name Chancelor Bennett, released his third official mixtape Coloring Book on 12 May, with Apple Music streaming the record exclusively. Featuring collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Future and 2 Chainz, Coloring Book was bound for success – but even Chance was most likely surprised by the accolade it would receive.
A streaming king is born
According to Billboard, the 14-track record debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at number eight after generating 57.3 million streams on Apple Music – 1,500 streams is equivalent to one album sales so Billboard estimates this would have equated to 38,000 units sold. The album could be set for even more sales as it will receive a wider streaming release on 27 May, making it available to other services.
Streaming is clearly the way forward for the music industry. In February 2016, Kanye West limited the release of his album The Life Of Pablo to Jay Z's service Tidal. When he finally made it available to buy and stream on other platforms like Spotify, it charted based mostly on the streams with 0.7 of those accounted for by pure sales. This still puts him behind Chance The Rapper, who now proudly wears the streaming crown.
The commercial collaborations
Most are probably familiar with Chance through his affiliation with Justin Bieber. The rapper delivered a rap verse on Bieber's 2013 urban hit Confident, while he has also worked with crooner James Blake, showing his versatility and crossover ability. Although Bieber has now moved over into EDM territory, he and Chance still have ties as the Canadian singer drops in on the rapper's Coloring Book track Juke Jam.
Listen to Chance The Rapper and Justin Bieber's Juke Jam:
Speaking highly of his pop star friend, Chance told Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe: "That's my f*****g boy. He's the s**t. He's just very dope at everything he does, at writing, he's an amazing vocalist."
Chance has also formed a close friendship with Kanye West and the duo are working on lots of fresh material. Revealing what it is like to work with music's self-professed god, Chance said: "I think me and Kanye both, in the experience of working on The Life of Pablo, both were able to grow and take things from it."
He added: "The main thing we want to connect on is this project called Good Ass Job. That's a thing that we talked about a long time ago and everything that we've been working on together has been a piece of it whether we were together in a room or not."
However, it shouldn't be assumed that because Chance has landed high-profile collaborations on his latest collection, he has sold-out to the mainstream.
The business plan
The strategy of the Coloring Book alone proves that Chance is not a pawn in the record label game – the rapper is thoroughly independent which makes his chart feat even more impressive. Sharing his views on the corporate side of the music industry, Chance told Lowe: "I don't agree with the way labels are set up... that anybody should sign 360 deals or sign away their publishing or take most of the infrastructure that's included in a formal deal. But I've learned to not be like f**k this company, f**k that company, even though a lot of those people tried to make it really hard for me to release my projects."
The Coloring Book will be available to stream on all other services from 27 May 2016.