Meeting Chance The Rapper

 

The release of Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap on streaming platforms resulted in a higher volume leveled jam session in my room and a flood of some of my most precious memories. During my senior year in college, I was Homecoming Director. It was a full-time gig managing a team of 8, budgets, and working with the school and community. I was also responsible for the biggest task, producing the Homecoming concert and that year Chance the Rapper would be blessing the city of Richmond as the headliner.

 

The Planning

Spring 2014, the post drop of No Label II by Migos and it was playing everywhere. Handsome and Wealthy, Fight Night, Freak No More, Antidote — Migos was the sound of the spring, summer, and fall at school. Spring 2014 was also the time Homecoming 2015  planning began. (VCU’s homecoming was in the winter, yup cold-ass January or February because we have no football team just basketball). In the early fall, we issued the student poll to see who they wanted for the concert. After two seasons of bumping Migos hard, it was no surprise they won the poll. (Also all the random people bombarding me on campus about the concert begging for Migos to come was a vivid sign.)

My team had the budget to make it happen but got a hell no response from the VCU Police Department. Every artist suggested had to be vetted by the police and even in our 3rd option's profile, Chance The Rapper, they had a picture with him and Migos — it was some shit. The rachet Homecoming people thought they were getting was changing directions. 

To announce the concert artist my team created a new event, The Reveal Party. It was a DJ battle where the winner would be the official DJ for all major homecoming events and in the end, I would announce the homecoming concert artist. The event sold out with the venue bursting out the seams with students. The bomb dropped after the battle, no Migos but Chance. I could see some disappointed students and excited ones. People eventually got over and my team moved on, it was time to get this show on the road! 


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The Concert 

I made it my mission as Director to make homecoming bigger and better. Grow the organization internally and externally to reach more students and the community. Part of that effort was mixing up the concert. That year instead of an only hip hop artist concert, it included Chaz French (a local artist), Magic (remember Rude right), and Chance as the header liner. 

In the months before the concert  I was hyping myself, my team, and friends up about Chance. I hadn't been all the way hip to Chance before but soon Acid Rap became the soundtrack of my senior year. The mixtape is a reminder of a certain place and time, with each song embodying something in my life.

All the hard work and planning was paying off Homecoming week was running smoothly until the day of the concert. I woke up that morning to snow, everywhere and it was still snowing! My heart dropped because Chance and Magic weren’t due to be in the city till later that afternoon and the forecast wasn’t letting up. Would the students still come? Would the artist make it there? Shit would there even be a concert!

I put my snow boots on and made my way to the venue early to met with my advisor and concert chair, who had fallen sick. We re-strategized,  timelines had to be changed, team members' duties shifted, the social post had to be updated, the concert was still on and we needed to revitalize the energy the snow had barred. 




I'll try to keep this price, the concert was beyond what I could have imagined. Seeing Chance live and being right there in the space between the fans in the pit and the stage, I wasn’t watching a concert I was in it. Every note blared, each unified yall screaming Juice, being baptized by the water Chance was flinging from his water bottle, flipping out when he played some his songs from 10 Day, and being surprised when he brought out DARM so we could all cha cha together — I was overwhelmed in the best way possible, the music seeped into every part of my body. I even cried in awe of the beauty and sheer joy of it all. 


After the concert, I had the opportunity to thank Chance and got a picture with him and my whole squad. ( I also tried to run away from life and sneak on the tour bus but that didn’t work out.) From start to finish the concert was magic, the behind the scenes action made it even more fun. Sneaking alcohol in for bathroom turn up with my squad (I was young don't judge me), prepping and meeting the artist, watching soundcheck, running through weed clouds from the artist, and celebrating all the hard work the team put in.  


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The Aftermath

The snow melted, homecoming was over, and it would soon be time to graduate. It was bittersweet — I was excited about graduating but started something new with homecoming at VCU and I wasn't ready to let go. The rebrand we created gave energy to the celebration. In the following years' homecoming moved to the fall (thank god!), concert headliners included Rae Sremmurd and Travis Scott, and The Reveal Party had to be moved outside to hold all the students (and was even featured on the Shaderoom).  



Listening to Acid Rap conjures up all the memories of Homecoming 2015 —a pure good time, a forever young type of energy. It was my introduction to Chance the Rapper, whose later projects, Surf and Coloring Book further proved that his music always aligned with my life always found meaning. Acid Rap hits a little different now because of where I am in my life which is perfectly fine. 



The day it hit platforms the homecoming team group chat rose from the dead. We all relived the memories and spoke of the places we have gone since that - experience. Its been almost 5 years since the 1st time I heard Acid Rap but my unwavering connection with it will never change.



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Katelen Thomas