Chance the Rapper has long championed the underdog. Acid Rap, the Windy City emcee’s acclaimed 2013 breakout, was jam-packed with acts from his hometown of Chicago. Its triumphant opener, “Good Ass Intro,” singlehandedly crammed five local names into its credits, and plenty of others popped up throughout the much-praised record.
His latest, Coloring Book, is peppered with more high-profile features than his previous efforts—an expected benefit that stems from his meteoric rise. But among heavyweights like Kanye West and Lil Wayne, Chance still managed to squeeze in nods to several newcomers. His brother Taylor Bennett, who christened his own rap career in December with Broad Shoulders, is noticeably absent from the lineup, but Chance does appear to give a shout out to his actual cousin Nicole on “How Great.”
Below, EW has put together a guide to the rising acts gracing Coloring Book’s roster.
Francis and the Lights (“Summer Friends”)
Backstory: Back in 2014, Chance tapped this R&B pop troop for “Wonderful Everyday: Arthur,” his slow-boiling rendition of Arthur’s reggae-tinged theme song. The New York group has stowed away a hefty collection of breezy easy-listeners throughout their near-decade tenure, earning them slots on tour with the likes of Drake, MGMT, and Ke$ha.
Essential tune: “Like A Dream”
Backstory: If you search Saba’s name on Google, the first result to illuminate your screen is a Caribbean island just below Cuba. The human iteration is an emcee from Chance’s local stomping grounds, though he heads up the city’s other major rap crew, Pivot. (Chance is in SaveMoney, for those unfamiliar with Chicago’s hip-hop hierarchy). Saba lent a verse to Acid Rap’s “Everybody’s Something” back in 2013, then unleashed his buzzy sophomore mixtape, ComfortZone, the following year.
Essential tune: “Scum”
Towkio (“Juke Jam”)
Backstory: Thanks to the silent “W” in his name, Towkio shirked the same fate of Saba’s geographical mixup. The fellow Chicagoan and SaveMoney member joined Chance on his late 2015 Family Matters trek, just after lighting the local scene on fire with his excellent debut mixtape, .Wav Theory.
Essential tune: “Involved” ft. Vic Mensa
Knox Fortune (“All Night”)
Backstory: This Windy City singer is literally brand new to the industry. He dropped his debut track, “Seaglass,” a glitchy, shaker-accented stretch trimmed with Fortune’s placid vocals, in March.
Essential (and only) tune: “Seaglass”
Eryn Allen Kane (“Finish Line/Drown”)
Backstory: Eryn Allen Kane is among the many young artists Prince shaped throughout his illustrious reign. The Detroit-born singer’s powerhouse howl scored her a cameo on his protest-provoked “Baltimore” last May, kicking her budding career into high gear. She also graced Chance’s Social Experiment team-up Surf that spring, and later appeared in Spike Lee’s controversial satire Chi-Raq. Kane revealed the follow-up to her debut EP in February, a five song collection of soul-scorching tunes called Aviary: Act II.
Essential tune: “How Many Times”
Noname (“Finish Line/Drown”)
Backstory: Noname’s (neé Noname Gypsy) silken assist on Acid Rap’s “Lost” turned her into a Chicago staple. She contributed to Chance’s aforementioned Surf, as well as local auteur Mick Jenkins’ much-praised mixtape The Water[s]. Her discography is largely comprised of guest verses, though she’s started to populate her SoundCloud with a growing list of solo tracks in recent months.
Essential tune: “Open Apology” feat. Saba