Chicago-born and bred singer and rapper Chance the Rapper, 22, born Chancelor Bennett, performed at on SNL this Saturday making him the first independent artist to grace the stage in 41 seasons. What’s more, he performed two songs while staying true to the community that raised him.

Regardless of the fact that SNL has been the subject of ire for years due to its inability to present diverse characters, handle racial jokes with sensitivity and finesse, or consistently hire diverse writers, Chance the Rapper commanded the audience with his performances of a new song called “Somewhere in Paradise” and, later, “Sunday Candy.”

The first performance – featuring fellow Chicago-native Jeremih – reminded those watching that Chance is a product of the community from which he came. In it, he jokes about maybe becoming major but says he doesn’t like titles.

The second performance was especially moving because Chance spoke specifically about ex-police officer Jason Van Dyke who was seen on video shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death last October. In the performance, he says “I’ve been waiting all week. I’ve been waiting all night. Jason Van Dyke. Had to say something on Saturday; see you at church on Sunday.” The reference a specific draw of attention to SNL watchers that the issues of hyper-policing and occupation of the south and west sides should not be forgotten no matter the venue.

These lyrics are no doubt in response to calls from the larger Chicago community, BYP100 members in particular, for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to meet their demands for justice even after successfully forcing the removal of Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

The performances were moving and timely. They are another representation of Black millennials disrupting the status quo and making space for the fullness blackness no matter what stage we’re on.


Watch both performances below:


(H/t Chicago Tribune)

Photo credit: BYP screenshot of Chance the Rapper performing “Sunday Candy” taken from NBC footage from Saturday, December 12th, 2015.