The 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards are all about celebrating music, but Chance The Rapper was recognized for his efforts outside of the booth on Sunday night (March 11).
At the event, held at The Forum in Los Angeles, Chance was presented with the Innovator Award by Pharrell. The award intends to highlight artists who use their money and fame for philanthropic efforts. Pharrell is a previous winner of the award himself, alongside U2, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. iHeartRadio chose Chance for his “groundbreaking accomplishments in the music industry and his unsurpassable contributions to social causes.”
During his acceptance speech, Chance shouted out a number of artists who have inspired him, including James Brown, Ray Charles and Prince. Not forgetting his female influences, he also called out Prince, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé for the strides they’ve made in rallying artists in the debate for streaming rights. Chance is dedicated to changing the game in that respect too—he’s the only artist ever to win a Grammy for a streaming-only album, which he received for Coloring Book last year.
“I didn’t invent independence in any way, I didn’t innovate that idea,” Chance said during his acceptance speech. “I’m following behind a lot of other people and it takes a lot more of us coming together as artists to regain our control and power as we should have it.”
Chance was selected by the iHeartRadio Music Awards committee because he uses “his voice to fight for youth empowerment through the arts, education and civic engagement with his non-profit organization, SocialWorks.”
SocialWorks is Chance’s charitable organization, which creates workspaces and hosts events for kids in Chicago with the hope of fostering local talent and creativity. The rapper received a $1 million donation from Google last year for the org.
Early on in his career, the “No Problems” rapper made it clear that his hometown of Chicago was of the utmost importance to him. Once he made it, he started giving back. Last year, he made a $1 million donation to fund arts and enrichment programs in Chicago public schools, which was then matched by the Chicago Bulls.
His main focus is the protection of the youth in Chicago, whom he called the city’s “most valuable resource.”
It’s been a big year for Chance, who won the award for Best New Artist at the Grammys last month, which he plans to donate to the Chicago Museum.