The magic of childhood creativity is a feature that, unfortunately, most people lose as they make their way through their lives. Once you lose the freedom of imagination, you succumb to the boringness of adulthood and it’s hard to turn back. For artists, maintaining a hold on that creativity is essential. Kanye West, a self proclaimed 38-year-old 8-year-old, highlighted this struggle perfectly when he rapped, “My childlike creativity, purity, and honesty is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts/Reality is catching up with me, taking my inner child, I’m fighting for custody.” Despite the stresses of a superstar marriage, fatherhood, and near constant touring and recording, Kanye has always sought to never let his inner-child be snuffed out.
Chance the Rapper, “Kanye’s best protege”, has entered a new phase in life that sees him attempting to do the same. Though he’s just 23-years-old, Chance has come into the national spotlight in a major way, on top of recently having his first child. His success is all the more impressive when you remember he’s done it all as an indie artist, with no help from a major label. Because of this, it’s easier for him to capitalize on his own creativity and bring it to the world in a way he sees fit, not having to rely on the come-and-go figures of the fickle music industry.
His new video for “Same Drugs” plays into this idea. The majority of the video features Chance sitting behind a piano with a life-size puppet. Based on the quality of the footage and the setup of the stage, he appears to be on some sort of ’80s-themed public access TV set, lit by the same purple and pink color scheme that makes up the cover of Coloring Book. As he begins to sing and play, the puppet comes to life and sings along with him. During the performance, Chance is visibly annoyed, making awkward glances away from the puppet and seeming stressed. As the song nears the end, the puppet slumps back on his shoulder and it begins to “snow”. Chance looks up like he has no idea what’s going on, then rolls his eyes and stands up, letting the puppet fall to the ground. After a quick reminder, “don’t forget the happy thoughts”, he steps off the stage and into the studio with the same head-shaking look of irritation. The aspects of the video changes as he makes his way through the studio, the filter no longer in place. As he leaves, he passes the camera crew, wardrobe crew, and production team, all of whom are also puppets. They each go on about their business, as Chance exits the studio without interacting with anyone.
It’s ironic that Chance uses one of his videos to show how he can’t be forced into doing stupid videos by major labels. While filming the video-within-a-video, his irritation is present as he’s paired up with someone for commercial appeal: a puppet the label uses to attract more attention. The cheap gimmicks (fake snow) prove to be too much for him, as he realizes he wants nothing to do with such phony art. The puppet that he was supporting falls as he leaves the piano, symbolizing that Chance won’t let inauthentic people leach off of his success and let it choke his artistic vision. The puppets throughout the studio, I.E. the fake people of the music industry, carry on as he leaves, more than likely letting his spot be taken by some other artist who will fit the bill for them.
The song itself can carry much of the same topic; originally about a girl, it can be tweaked to fit here. Though artists all start on a similar, base level, they all take different routes to success. While some fall into traps set by corrupt labels, others, like Chance, do it on their own, refusing to take the “same drugs” as those who sign crooked contracts. As the artists grow and change with a label’s perspective, they can become nearly unrecognizable. But Chance, like Peter Pan, refuses to age, sticking to his same core values and artistic vision.
The main takeaway from all of is that in an industry full of puppets looking to make money off a trend, Chance is a genuine and original creator who refuses to go along with the status quo. Everything’s he’s done in his music career proves this to be true, as he continues to push down boundaries that have stifled the growth of indie artists. Nobody can kill his inner-child and the vision that it blesses him with. Not Captain Hook, not record label executives. He’s truly forever young, if only at heart and through his art.