Chance premiered this song at his first ever performance on Saturday Night Live, which also just so happened to be the first performance by an independent artist in the show’s history. His independent status is significant, especially in light of the two artists who feature on this song. Jeremih and R. Kelly are both Chicago staples; Jeremih (whose new album Late Nights is really, really good, by the way) has four platinum singles, and R. Kelly is, well, R. Kelly. Chance, on the other hand, has never had a charting single, nor has he ever released an album with a label. All of his releases so far have been self-released mixtapes, and his one studio album (also self-released) was really a group effort by The Social Experiment. But Chance is arguably the biggest artist on this song by now, achieving a level of popularity made possible only by the magic of the Internet and by his own savvy, not to mention the quality of his music.
“Somewhere in Paradise” is a good intro to Chance’s music; he uses gospel-tinged production a lot, and this may be the best fit of that style with the lyrics, which are all about remaining humble in the face of all his success, understanding that it all comes from God. Chance’s songs still feel like revelatory gifts from heaven, unsullied as they are by the corporate red tape of labels. Get on board now while he’s still among the innocent.