Chance The Rapper’s “Grown Ass Kid” featuring Mick Jenkins and Alex Wiley tells a story of growing up and overcoming racism.
The very title of the song refers to the process of having to grow up and mature. Chance chastises those who prefer to look at their past glories (“Lazy male complaining about how in high school he could, but his ACL”) or those who are simply too lazy to begin carrying their own workload.
Arima Ederra and Detroit comedian HaHa Davis also addresses this issue in their parts of the song. Although HaHa Davis’ monologue is filled with comedic overtones, the message stays consistent with the idea that people (particularly teenagers) need to work to achieve something in their life.
Chance then makes the parallel between the history of racism in America and growing up. Black people went from “tobacco back roads [and] bus seat back rows” to “[a] black boy [rising].” That’s not to say that racism has been abolished, but that black people in the United States have previously overcome and are still overcoming racial division. In that same way, it is inevitable that man will grow “just as surely as mountains peak and plateaus grow.”
The theme of overcoming is also prominent in Jenkins and Wiley’s verses. Both rappers prevailed over racial perceptions to be at the very top of their games.
Despite being black, Jenkins still sees himself as the cream of the crop. Wiley also talks about how no one believed in him because he was only half-white, but now he’s the one who gets to bask in his glory in front of his naysayers.
“Grown Ass Kid” also alludes to the changing perception of Christian rappers in modern day hip hop. All three rappers unashamedly make multiple references to God in the song. Chance specifically mentions his popularity and how people can now say that their favorite rapper is Christian, something which would’ve been mocked a decade or two ago.
To Chance The Rapper’s chagrin, the song was leaked a day before the release of Coloring Book. Originally, it was supposed to be track 11 on the album, but it was not cleared. Although Chance was rightfully not pleased at the leak, whoever leaked it unveiled a great track.
“Grown Ass Kid” is a very recommendable listen that encompasses a myriad of issues in a tasteful and stimulating manner.