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Welcome to the final installment of Rev’s celebration of Black History Month. Over the past three weeks, we’ve gotten to know The Weeknd and Darius Rucker, Bob Marley and Blood Orange, as well as Sam Cooke and Leon Bridges. It’s been a fascinating journey. We’ve acquired a fresh appreciation for past artists and had our ears and eyes opened to musicians that some of us had never heard before.

Once again, we are excited to share a beloved artist with our younger patients alongside an artist who is a true icon of popular music.

Chance the Rapper

Chancelor Jonathan Bennett was born to have an opinion. His father was an aide for three different mayors in Chicago as well as President Barack Obama, and his mother worked for the Illinois Attorney General. Far from the rags to riches story that defines most rappers, Chance’s success story features every bit as much hustle and drive.

In 2017, Chance the Rapper became the first artist to win a Grammy Award without selling a single album. Coloring Book, which took home the Best New Album award (and earned Chance the Best New Artist award), was never available in stores or on iTunes. Fans streamed it for free on platforms like Spotify and Pandora. With no money coming in from album sales, Chance the Rapper toured relentlessly. During his 2017 Be Encouraged Tour, Chance performed 25 shows in 35 days from California to Massachusetts.

Plenty of rappers have been musical guests on Saturday Night, but only a handful have hosted. Chance the Rapper is one of those rappers, and he and Drake are the only two hip hop artists to have hosted the show twice. During his 2019 appearance, Chance’s monologue showcased his rap skills and a sense of humor we haven’t seen in a hip-hop star since Eminem.

Even more impressive than Chance’s work-fueled success is his commitment to using his platform to speak out and his wealth to give back. During a recent interview in The New Yorker, Chance said:

I’m twenty-seven. My generation was taught that the civil-rights movement ended in the sixties with the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., and that the Civil Rights Act put things as they should be. If anything, that belief was reinforced with the election of Barack Obama. We believed that the injustices of America were a thing of the past. I think what this movement has shown us and teaches is that we’re very far from an equitable or equal society, and that we will be the generation that fixes it.”

Chance backed up his words with a $1 million donation to the Chicago public school system. He regularly speaks out in support of school teachers and is a strong voice for Black Lives Matter.

As for Chance’s music, it’s easy to hear why he credits Kanye West as one of his key influencers. The track “Somewhere in Paradise” showcases his full range of rap talent, from slow and sarcastic to fast and furious.

Whether you’re into rap music or not, Chance the Rapper is definitely worth some exploration. His tracks are perfect for everything from relaxing at home to breaking out of the house on an aggressive walk or road trip.

Prince

My name is Prince and I am funky.
My name is Prince, the one and only.

Part Jimi Hendrix, part Little Richard, part George Clinton with some Elvis Presley showmanship and controversy for good measure – Prince is one of the greatest musicians of all time. For five decades, Prince lit up the airwaves with hits ranging from crooning love songs like “Scandalous” to the ultimate party jam.

Four years before Prince rocked his extravagant suits and inflated pompadour hairstyle, he hit the charts for the first time with “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” Prince had not yet found his outrageous, ever-changing look, but the ‘funkyness’ that would define his musical style for the next four decades was in full effect. If you were around when “I Wanna Be Your Lover” was on the radio, you remember what a radical departure it was in a year where disco was still in its prime.

If you don’t consider yourself a fan of any of Prince’s 19 top 10 hits, chances are you’ve sung along to at least one of the near dozen songs he’s written for other artists. Sheila E., Chaka Khan, Madonna, Sinead O’Connor, Sheena Easton, and Celine Dion have all found success with songs written by Prince, but no band benefitted more than The Bangles.

Thanks to the global phenomenon that was his 1984 album and feature film, Purple Rain, Prince is widely recognized as one of the most iconic pop stars of the 1980s. During the ‘90s, the hits and transformations continued as Prince changed his name to The Artist Formerly Known as Prince and eventually, The Artist.

Photo credit: Bored Panda

While Prince never had another #1 hit after “Cream” in 1991, his popularity and presence in popular culture never wavered.  His shocking death in 2016 from a Fentanyl overdose after a lengthy period of health challenges was a painful reminder of the high cost of fame. For many, Prince’s untimely passing brought back memories of his electrifying halftime performance during Super Bowl XLI. “Purple Rain” was more than the title track to Prince’s most popular album. It was a 1980s phenomenon that spawned a feature film by the same name and made Prince the legend he remains today. As  Prince closed out what many consider to be the best Super Bowl halftime show of all time, with “Purple Rain,” the skies of Miami opened up with a drenching downpour as if on cue. In hindsight, it was the perfect theatrical moment for an artist who made a career out of pushing boundaries and disrupting convention.

We hope you enjoyed Rev’s celebration of Black History Month and the artists who have impacted our employees’ lives. As we look ahead to next year’s celebration, we encourage you to share your favorite Black artists by leaving a comment. In our opinion, appreciating the contributions of Black artists, scholars, inventors, and public figure is a discussion worth having year-round. Thanks for joining us, and please leave a comment to let us know what you think!