Chicago hip-hop superstar Chance the Rapper got his name because nobody believed a guy named Chancelor Bennett could rap.
We’ve invited him to our free show in Millennium Park in Chicago to play a game called “Chance the Rapper, meet Saran the Wrapper.” Three questions about using Saran wrap on everything other than leftovers.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we ask very cool people about very lame things.
CHANCELLOR BENNETT: (Laughter).
SAGAL: Oh, you’re going to work out great, I can tell.
SAGAL: Chance the Rapper got his name because nobody would believe a guy named Chancellor Bennett could rap. As far as we see it, he’s the king of Chicago hip-hop. Who cares about that Kanye guy? And we are delighted to have him with us today. Chance the Rapper, welcome to WAIT WAIT …DON’T TELL ME.
BENNETT: Thanks for having me.
BENNETT: Great to be here.
SAGAL: Yeah, great to have you.
BENNETT: Thank you.
SAGAL: So you’re a Chicago guy. You grew up in the South Side.
BENNETT: Yes, sir.
SAGAL: And you haven’t been growing up for very long. You’re only about - what, you’re 23?
BENNETT: I’m 22. I’ll be 23 next year.
SAGAL: You’re 22, yeah, yeah, yeah.
BENNETT: Yeah, I’m a young guy.
SAGAL: You are. And this is the story we heard, which is that you’ve been performing since you were a kid, right?
BENNETT: Yeah, I started out doing talent shows and open mic programs and youth programs around the city, and yeah, I’ve been doing it for a while now.
SAGAL: We heard you - at one point you did a fine Michael Jackson impersonation.
BENNETT: Wow, that’s crazy. That’s deep. Yeah, I did do that at my kindergarten graduation.
BENNETT: Yeah, so less than 20 years ago, but yeah, pretty recently.
SAGAL: So, but the thing - the story we heard is that if you have an origin story like a superhero it’s that you were thrown out of school for a little while when you were in high school.
SAGAL: And you took some time, and you - what did you do?
BENNETT: Yeah, so when I was a senior in high school I got suspended for having marijuana around the school. It wasn’t even really in the school, it just - yeah.
BENNETT: So I got in trouble for this (laughter) for having marijuana, and I was suspended from school. So on that 10 day break started recording a project called 10 Day, which was my debut project and put a lot of people on what I was doing.
SAGAL: Yeah, and my understanding is you put that on the Internet - you worked on it for a while, put it on the Internet, it was ready and it kind of took off.
SAGAL: You started making your name very quickly.
BENNETT: It did a lot for me, yeah.
SAGAL: So you’re touring in hip-hop shows, you’ve put out some albums that have done tremendously well, you’re headlining festivals. What would you say now, if he or she were here, to the principal of the high school that suspended you?
BENNETT: Well, there’s a strong chance that they’re here ‘cause this is an NPR show.
SAGAL: If they’re not here, they’re listening.
BENNETT: No, I’d probably say thank you, shouts out to them for all the inspiration.
SAGAL: Really? For throwing you out of school.
FAITH SALIE: Hey…
SAGAL: So - go ahead.
SALIE: Chance, how do you actually compose a rap? Are you so talented that rhymes just come to you or - I would have to sit down with a rhyming dictionary and work for days - but how does it come to you?
BENNETT: That’s a great question. I think there’s a lot of premeditation, if you will, to making a rap, you know? You got to sit down, focus on your breathing, you know, you want to do a good workout, push-ups maybe sit-ups, play cards, think about your taxes, think about all the people that you’ve met, you know, in this life and possibly a past life, if you believe in that. And then, you know, you take off your socks and shoes, put a pencil between your toes and you start writing. And you’ve got a masterpiece.
MAURICE ROCCA: Oh, my God.
ROCCA: I should write that down.
BENNETT: There’s a lot of steps, you should definitely write that down.
SAGAL: You understand that whatever you say about this, everybody here will believe you.
ROCCA: They’ll be going home and be like, wow, I heard the most amazing thing about this hip-hop. They write it with their feet.
BENNETT: (Laughter) Yeah.
ROCCA: Would you please give it to me straight. I’m 46. Is it too late for me to become a rapper?
BENNETT: No, I don’t think so. Some people might say it’s too soon for you to become a rapper, you know what I mean?
BENNETT: It’s a certain experience.
SAGAL: Now I - I know there’s like - there’s different schools of rap, there’s gangster rap, there’s West Coast rap. I know that one of your big hits is a song about your grandmother, “Sunday Candy.”
SAGAL: Right now, you’re wearing your cardigan.
BENNETT: I am.
SAGAL: So I’m thinking, are you, like, nice boy rap? Like he’s such a…
BENNETT: I’ll take that. I’ll wear that, for sure. I definitely would take nice boy rap. I write - I like to write about whatever is closest to my heart at the time. And yeah, I mean I’ll take nice boy rap, for sure, ‘cause I think, like, that’s what women are into is nice boy rap.
ROCCA: Oh, my God.
SAGAL: You have figured this out.
SAGAL: One of the coolest things that I have read about you is that you grew up idolizing Kanye, right? And that - and you’ve performed with him, right? You did, like, a couple shows? Did he live up to your expectation?
BENNETT: Yeah, definitely. Kanye West is, like, one of the greatest human beings of all time. I don’t know if you ever heard him say it, but he’ll tell you himself.
SAGAL: I’m sorry.
ROCCA: I want to ask you, what is the rhyme that you’re most proud of? Like, a rhyme that you went, wow, that is really cool that I just pulled that off.
BENNETT: I wrote this song in the late ’80s called “Bohemian Rhapsody” and…
SALIE: I think I’ve heard that.
BENNETT: Yeah, that’s one of the ones that I’m most proud of.
BRIAN BABYLON: That was all you?
ROCCA: There must be two words that you rhymed that you went…
BENNETT: Two words, back to back?
ROCCA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BENNETT: I’m trying to think of a good two words, ‘cause I’m actually super into that, is trying to rhyme words that people don’t use all the time. Oh, recently I rhymed - very recently I rhymed the words growth spurt with tippy toes hurt.
ROCCA: That’s great.
BENNETT: And yeah, like, if you’re there, it’s like, in context it’s like, OK, I see with this guy’s got.
ROCCA: Can I tell you my favorite rhyme? You probably know it. It’s from “Funny Girl,” and one of the characters says well, my heart ain’t made of marble, but your rhythm’s really horrible. Rhyming marble and horrible. That’s kind of - it’s clever.
SAGAL: Well, Chance - Chance, we have asked you here to play a game we’re calling…
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Chance the Rapper meets Saran the Wrapper.
SAGAL: So you’re a rapper. You’re one of the best out there, but you can’t keep leftovers fresh and tasty. We’re going to ask you three questions about actually wrapping things. If you get two right, you’ll win on behalf of one of our listeners.
SAGAL: So, Bill, who is Chance the Rapper playing for?
KURTIS: Meg Sharma of Chicago, Ill.
SAGAL: All right, here is your first question. People like to come up with alternative uses for Saran Wrap, but one of them, according to scientists, never works. What is it? A - wrapping yourself tightly in Saran Wrap to lose weight; B - stretching it down a stairway to make an in-home waterslide; or C - eating it so you make a funny crinkling noise when you walk.
BENNETT: I’m sure A is the right one, right?
SAGAL: It is, in fact. Yeah, people do this all the time.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: It doesn’t work. Could hurt you if you wrap yourself to tightly. Don’t try it. Next question, Cosmopolitan magazine, of course, includes Saran Wrap in one of their famous “Sex Moves That’ll Blow His Mind” articles. What do they recommend you do with Saran Wrap? A - wrap yourself in Saran Wrap like leftovers, hide in the refrigerator and wait until he gets hungry for a midnight snack.
SAGAL: B - take nude pictures of yourself for him with Saran Wrap over the lens so they’re blurrier and not quite so accurate; or C - pull out a long length of Saran Wrap, twist it into a rope and tie yourselves tightly together, and see what you can do.
BENNETT: I’m going to go with B.
SAGAL: You’re going to go with B. They say take the Saran Wrap, put it over the lens of the camera to make it blurry so your flaws might be blurred out.
BENNETT: I feel like that’s something Cosmo would tell people to do.
SAGAL: No, Cosmo told them to do C, to tie themselves together with the Saran Wrap so you can’t move or separate or get up and get out of there. It’s totally sexy. Alright, this is exciting. You get this last one correct, you win. Sometimes Saran Wrap can save the day, as when what happened last year in Chile? A - a mugger on the street was captured by bystanders and held by wrapping him to a lamp post naked with Saran Wrap; B - a man was saved from a house fire when he jumped into a makeshift Saran Wrap net; or C - a desperate surgeon used Saran Wrap instead of a skin graft, creating the world’s first transparent man.
BENNETT: Those are also ridiculous.
BENNETT: I’m going to go with A. I think it’s A.
SAGAL: You’re going to go with A? It is A! Yes! You all did it!
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Bill, how did Chance the Rapper do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Well, he got two out of three. That means you won, Chance.
BENNETT: Awesome, awesome.
SAGAL: Hey, I’m going to make my suggestion, and you tell me if I’m wrong. If people out there listening don’t know Chance the Rapper’s work yet, a great place to start is the video for “Sunday Candy.” Not only is it a great song, not only is it really different than what you’ve seen, but he is quite a dancer. You should check this out.
BENNETT: Thank you, guys.
SAGAL: Would you agree with that recommendation?
BENNETT: I’d agree with that. Definitely check out “Sunday Candy,” guys.
SAGAL: Chance the Rapper’s new Family Matters tour has just been announced. You can find details at chanceraps.com. Chance the Rapper, thank you so much for joining us here.
BENNETT: Thank you guys so much.
SAGAL: Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper, give it up!
(SOUNDBTIE OF SONG, “SUNDAY CANDY”)
BENNETT: (Rapping) She could say in her voice, in her way that she love me. With her eyes, with her smile, with her belt, with her hands, where her money ain’t. I am the thesis of her prayers.
SAGAL: In just a minute, it’s the plight of the hairless in our Listener Limerick challenge game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We’ll be back in a minute with more WAIT WAIT …DON’T TELL ME from NPR.
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