Just try and sit there shaking a sleigh bell-covered stick without looking like a complete and utter cheeseball. It’s difficult — but Chance The Rapper takes the trickiest shit to task each and every time, and his Saturday Night Live performance was no exception, sleigh bells and all.
Chance’s SNL set was historic before he even hit the stage — he was the first independent artist to be booked as the musical guest on SNL in its 41 years of broadcasting, let alone the first independent rapper to hit Studio 8H — but the pressure is nothing to the kid from Chicago’s South Side, who’s been standing in the shadow of Kanye since he dropped his first mixtape in 2012. The mainstream’s growing adoration for Chance has been more of a slow burn than anything else: The 22-year-old enjoyed prime spots on every major festival lineup out there following the release of 2013’s Acid Rap, but was forced to cancel a handful of those high-profile performances in 2014 when he came down with a nasty illness just after the first weekend of Coachella (which had Justin Bieber running out to do a song with Chance and his band, the Social Experiment, before Chance’s health took a gnarly turn). He quickly regained his momentum, met his idol at Los Angeles’ Made in America Festival before the end of that season and honed his live chops alongside the Social Experiment, which would inevitably come to a glorious head on 2015’s Surf.
Now, Chance is back with some scorching new verses. He dropped his latest single, the Jeremih and R. Kelly-featuring “Somewhere in Paradise,” in tandem with his SNL performance, and made short work of it (sans collaborators) onstage. (The GIF set his first number inspired is just as rad.)
It was “Sunday Candy” that moved the needle from “Up-And-Coming” to “Arrived,” though. Chance, clad in his Social Experiment letterman’s jacket, rolled through the euphoric highs of the track while working himself into a frenzy in the process, crooning and spitting and conducting the band behind him from his seat at the microphone. You can’t really blame him for the ecstatic flailing given how glorious he sounded, flanked by the choir, the strings, the horns, the organ, the bass, all of it. SNL has upped its live performance game, shelving the canned backing tracks and straightforward presentations for the opportunity to present something different, to offer the artist the chance to come to Studio 8H with wild ideas and tiny orchestras to flesh out the tune at hand. Chance’s is another superlative night counted in an already stellar season of SNL, but it’s a higher point for the artist, still. You’re no longer standing in someone else’s shadow when the (much-deserved) spotlight creates your own. Chance has long since stepped into that, but it’s great to see SNL acknowledge that on its own terms.
The internet was more or less agog over Chance save for a couple of grumps, but all in all, it was a festive and fantastic evening at 30 Rock for Chicago’s rapper of the moment.
We can see him fitting in here, too:
I would put Chance the Rapper's performances on SNL this week among the very best SNL performances of all time, esp "Sunday Candy"
— Matthew Perpetua (@perpetua) December 13, 2015
Chance’s Twitter feed was ecstatic, but we’re personally thrilled that he got to meet his comedy crush.
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) December 13, 2015
JUST LOOK AT THE GIFS LOOK AT THEM BASK IN THEIR GLORY
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) December 13, 2015
Chance finds himself in some Hip-Hop Hall of Fame company:
— Andrew Barber (@fakeshoredrive) December 13, 2015
… And Chuck D has some input (and an endorsement):
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) December 13, 2015
Those jackets tho
Chance The Rapper performance on SNL had a real high school talent show vibe.
— Lorin Kozlowski (@Cassidy2099) December 13, 2015
It is indeed.
Chance the Rapper performing on SNL, and an unsigned artist at that, is DOPE as hell!
— Bri Alexis (@HunniB_Rose) December 13, 2015
The adjective of the evening seemed to be “lit”:
— sam lococo (@samlococo) December 13, 2015
chance the rapper on snl was lit
— journey (@SuneckeNokuse) December 13, 2015
Chance the rapper performance right now is lit
— Melzingy (@MajinMel) December 13, 2015
As was this fan art:
— Thom the Rapper (@ThomasBurch24) December 13, 2015
No idea what this means but sure:
Yo, Chance the Rapper on SNL is exactly what I hope it would be like. Super stoney, mode swinging coconuts!
— Templeton Peck (@dewraimist) December 13, 2015