Billboard/Ramona Rosales Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper Covers Billboard; Talks Family, Free Music, & Xanax Habit

Chance the Rapper is leading the way.

The Chicago MC earns the title of “new pioneer” on the latest cover of Billboard. Lighting up the photo shoot, Lil Chano dons his trademark “3” hat from the cover of Coloring Book and a denim jacket over a pink hoodie.

The cover story is an open conversation with the 23-year-old, who discusses everything from his baby mama to police relations to his Xanax addiction, which he developed when he moved to Los Angeles in 2014 after the success of Acid Rap.

Part of the interview also focuses on the fact that Chance doesn’t charge fans for his music. Instead, he offers it for free, but there’s more to that, he says.

“It’s not about the music being free,” he explains. “It’s about how it is displayed and made accessible and about artistic power. It was always about the artist-to-fan relationship.”

Read highlights from Chance’s cover story below and pick up the issue when it hits newsstands Aug. 20.

On his Muhammad Ali tribute at the ESPYS: “When I write, I work off of a theme, an emotion, a narrative — thinking of it and then expounding on it. I was trying to rap with mad boxing metaphors, being very literal. It was cheesy.”

On his Xanax habit: “I don’t want to present it as a ‘Behind the Music’ thing. I looked up and months had passed, and I hadn’t made enough music. I missed a lot of weddings and funerals.”

On police relations: “There’s a larger conversation we need to have about the role of police officers, their relationship to the people as enemy or executioner, when they’re not supposed to be either. There’s also not enough pressure on internal organizations that are supposed to police the police and on judges in the justice system who are supposed to make reasonable decisions.”

On his Magnificent Coloring Day Festival: “It’s bigger than me fu**ing with the Sox and bigger than me being a rapper. … I think the city needs some happy moments.”

On the mother of his daughter: “I understand how black women are represented in rap music, how being a baby mama is perceived. My girlfriend and I are very conscious of how many people in our situation don’t think it can work out, when it can.”

On an artist’s responsibility: “Kids would tell me they tried acid for the first time listening to Acid Rap, asking me if I wanted some. I realized the responsibility of being a popular artist.”

On rap’s competitive nature: “I never really liked the idea of rap being a competitive thing. It’s not. I can’t gain anything off of anyone else not succeeding.”