Chance the Rapper, a Grammy-winning artist from Chicago, had initially planned his trip to West Africa with fellow Chicago hip-hop artist Vic Mensa as a vacation getaway. However, Chance ended up having a much deeper experience when he connected with Mensa’s father’s family in Ghana and other locals.
During his visit, he was able to take in the stunning ocean coastline and waterfalls, immerse himself in the musical and artistic culture, and learn more about Ghana’s rich history as the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from colonialism.
Following multiple trips to Ghana, Chance the Rapper decided to create a free concert series and visual arts show to allow others to experience the country’s vibrant culture as he had. He and Mensa even brought eight students from Chicago to Ghana during the summer to learn more about Africa.
The pair will host the inaugural Black Star Line festival in Accra, Ghana in 2023, which will be a weeklong event featuring panel discussions, events, and a free concert on January 6th featuring performances by Chance, Mensa, Erykah Badu, T-Pain, Jeremih, Sarkodie, Tobe Nwigwe, Asakaa Boys, and M.anifest. “I felt so free in Ghana… and I want others to feel the same way,” said Chance.
The Black Star Festival will take place at Black Star Square in Accra, a symbol of the political liberation achieved by Ghana in 1957. The festival’s name is inspired by Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line, a company founded in 1919 by Black individuals that facilitated global shipping and tourism between the US, the Caribbean, and Africa.
The Black Star Line has influenced Chance’s music, including the music video for “YAH Know” featuring King Promise and his upcoming album “Star Line Gallery,” set to be released in the coming year.
Chance has also released other music videos, such as “Child of God,” “A Bar About a Bar,” and “The Highs & Lows” with Joey Bada$$, which highlight popular African artists. Naila Opiangah’s art piece for “Child of God” will be displayed at the festival, and Chance has stated that his new songs explore “candid realities of Black life.”
He believes that seeing the art that accompanies the music in person can enhance one’s understanding of the music itself.