In addition to launching a preorder for his forthcoming tour and album, Chicagoist owner and Rahm Emanuel antagonist Chance the Rapper has finally made his first two mixtapes, 10Day and Acid Rap, available for users of Spotify and Apple Music. The mixtapes will also be receiving a physical release on vinyl. The mixtapes have long been available for free on sites like Datpiff, MixtapeMonkey, and SoundCloud, all traditional platforms for mixtapes by independent artists. In the past, Chance has been vocal about his support for these platforms and was once even credited at one point for “saving” SoundCloud. Chance has credited his free-to-download releases with helping to establish himself. “It’s not about the music being free,” he said in a 2016 interview with Billboard, “it was always about the artist-to-fan relationship.”
While the free mixtape model helped Chance reach fans, in some ways it also stymied his success. Chance’s 2013 mixtape, Acid Rap, a self release that became so popular that it landed on the Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop charts despite being available for free, was found to be ineligible for Grammy consideration for the same reason. In 2016 the Recording Academy expanded its guidelines to encompass streaming services, but only within the realm of industry approved, demand-side platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal. The rapper was finally awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2017 after his third mixtape, the critically lauded Coloring Book, becoming the first streaming-only album to ever receive the award. The album was the rapper’s first to be released commercially, via limited-time exclusive deal with Apple Music, and while it was later released on other streaming platforms, it was also released free to download on DatPiff.
Releasing his first two mixtapes onto streaming services has not come without its own set of challenges, particularly in regards to licensing issues. The song “Juice” off of Acid Rap has been replaced by a message from the rapper explaining that he was not able to clear the rights to the Donny Hathaway sample from the original song but that the proceeds from streaming the track would be donated to the Chicago nonprofit, SocialWorksChi.
Earlier this May, Chance teased his forthcoming album with the release of his latest single, “GRoCERIES,” a collaboration with Houston rapper Tisakorean and Canadian producer Murda Beatz. In addition to opening preorder for his new album and tour, the rapper unveiled a raffle contest today offering fans $10 tickets for the chance to win an “exclusive fan experience.” Proceeds from the raffle will also be donated to SocialWorksChi. Chance has hinted that his new album will be coming in July and it would be safe to assume that we should expect its release to appear on a variety of streaming platforms, CD, vinyl, and probably as a free download on DatPiff.