Chance The Rapper undoubtedly stole the show on Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam.” He also chose the platform to make an interesting statement. “He said let’s do a good ass job with Chance Three,” he rapped. “I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy, Let’s make it so free and the bars so hard, That there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet.”
The notion was clear — despite the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ dubious standards, Chance won’t be selling his music just to reach for a Grammy. He plans to keep his music free and, if that leaves him with empty space in his trophy case, then so be it.
It’s a ridiculous oversight by the Academy, especially when most years’ free releases like Drake’s So Far Gone, Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80 and Chance’s Acid Rap end up being the best albums of the year. Well, an enterprising citizen by the name Max Krasowitz is looking to make a change by way of a petition on Change.org, which asks the Grammys to allow free music releases to be considered eligible for their prestigious awards. The petition is nearing 10,000 signatures, and has even caught the attention of Chance himself.
“Ridiculously talented artists who are releasing free mixtapes and projects are not getting the recognition they truly deserve” the petition states. “The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences insists that to be eligible for a prestigious Grammy Award that the music must be ‘commercially released in general distribution in the United States, i.e. sales by label to a branch or recognized independent distributor, via the Internet, or mail order/retail sales for a nationally marketed product. Recordings must be available for sale from any date within the eligibility period through at least the date of the current year’s voting deadline (final ballot).’ ”
The petition cites Chance specifically, but obviously this affects innumerable artists. Especially rappers who these days seem to focus on and release free albums and mixtapes more than actual retail albums. It’s just a sign of the times, as those kinds of projects allow the artists artistic freedom and helps to break the chains of sampling restrictions placed on them when they release music for retail. With that in mind, it’s a necessary change to outdated rules, but with how archaic the Grammys and other award shows have become, it’s probably unlikely to change anything anytime soon.
Chance’s new project, Chance 3, releases this Thursday, May 12.