"In all honesty, I can’t remember the first time I took acid,” says Chancellor Bennett, known to the 50,000 people who downloaded his mixtape in a single day as Chance The Rapper, “but I do remember when I started taking acid way too much!”

The laidback 20-year-old was tripping two or three times a week when he recorded the unsurprisingly titled ‘Acid Rap’, but he didn’t set out to make a ‘drug record’. “I didn’t do it to show people what it’s like to rap on acid,” he explains. “I did it because of how altered my mind was and how deeply I could analyse situations.”

The result is an album full of soulful samples and a varied palette of musical influences. He namedrops jazz greats like Roy Ayers, John Coltrane and Jamiroquai. Wait, Jamiroquai? “I got really into acid jazz and disco,” Chance says. “Then someone showed me ‘Virtual Insanity’. I was just like, ‘This music is sick as fuck. This video is sick as fuck.’”

A more obvious influence is the early work of the man they now call Yeezus. “‘The College Dropout’ shaped me as a person and as an artist,” says Chance. “It was a big Chicago record and a big hip-hop record at the same time. When it came out it was taboo to have a majority soul-sampled rap record. Everything about Kanye’s style, his fashion sense and his music felt new. When I heard that record I knew I was going to be a rapper.”

While Chance has picked up Kanye’s ability to turn out funny, unforgettable phrases (his habit of dipping cigarettes in codeine becomes “Lean on a square, that’s a fuckin’ rhombus”) he’s not afraid to speak about heavy issues like his hometown’s spate of gun violence. “There’s a responsibility that comes with being an artist,” he says. “There are probably two or three kids who got killed last night in Chicago. That’s kids. Under 19. I thought it would be weird if I didn’t talk about it.”

Still happily unsigned, his first trip to Europe this month is keeping him busy. He’ll probably keep putting out music for free. “It’s the way of the world,” he says. “Paying a dollar for music is kind of ridiculous. It’s worth so much more than a dollar. You can’t put a price on it.”

Need To Know
Based: Chicago
For Fans Of: OutKast, early Kanye West
Download Now: His mixtape ‘Acid Rap’ is available as a free download from chanceraps.com
See Him Live: BBC 1Xtra Stage, Reading Festival (Aug 24), Leeds Festival (25) and London XOYO (26)
Believe It Or Not: Chance has inherited a patch of land in a small town in North Carolina. It’s currently a tobacco field, but that’s not the reason he wrote ‘Chain Smoker’
Watch Now: 'So Good (Good Ass Intro)'

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