Late last year, Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper, crashed a fifth-grade coding class during a surprise visit to Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Paideia Academy in Chicago. In addition to shocking the students and even bringing some to tears, the 24-year-old hip-hop star spoke to the class about the importance of tech and computer coding.
“There’s a lot of people who use the internet every day, using different software and hardware designed by people just like y’all,” he told the children during Computer Science Education Week.
After the surprise visit, Bennett opened up about the instrumental role that technology has played in his success as an independent artist. Rather than signing to a record label, the “No Problem” rapper released his music online for free and became the first streaming-only musician to win a Grammy in 2017. “I figured out that I could move how I wanted to move—to a lot of places that other artists in my genre and other artists period hadn’t gotten to do independently because of stuff like SoundCloud and YouTube existing,” he told ABC News in a one-on-one interview, which debuted on Nightline last week.
Using online platforms not only allowed Bennett to distribute his music directly to fans, it also granted him access to data to monitor their listening habits. “The type of metrics that they were providing to me allowed me to cater specifically to people that I knew were listening and know what time is the best time of day to drop my music,” he said. “Most people that are signed don’t know where their fans live or how many plays they got on iTunes or the … demographics for how many males or females listen to their music,” he added.
The Chicago native went on to reveal that music programming tools helped him perfect the sound of four of his songs on his 2016 Grammy winning mixtape “Coloring Book.” “There’s these things called harmonic engines within a recording program and what you do is when you record your vocals you use this harmonic program and it adds harmony to your voice,” he said. “You can use this harmonic preset in whatever recording program you’re using to create a big chord without having to sing it again.”