Speaking with Colbert before his performance, Chance said, “I was gonna [perform] ‘Grown Ass Kid,’ an unreleased song from Coloring Book, and then I called on Saturday and said, I can’t do ‘Grown Ass Kid’ anymore for reasons I don’t want to talk about. We had to come up with a song in a matter of days, and I wanted to do something fresh. I’ve been in the studio a lot lately; I’ve been cooking up some yammers. I premiered ‘Angels,’ the first new song off Coloring Book, here, so I was like, why not do another new song for you guys here tonight?”
Chance delivered the lines conversationally over a gentle guitar lick by R&B singer Daniel Caesar. The track began with the MC staring into space – “I get sad when I look at the stars/ They’re so pretty you can’t tell ’em apart” – but his focus soon returned to more immediate concerns: sleepless nights as a first-time father, the difficulties of finding time to play with cousins now that he’s a superstar.
In the third verse, Chance incorporated pointed references to systemic inequality. “Y’all just keep clapping like Flint got clean water, and y’all don’t got teen daughters and black friends and gay cousins,” he rapped. “Y’all just don’t say nothin’, know that the day’s comin’… Keep on tellin’ us we makin’ it up/ The American dream, may you never wake up.” He ended the song with a stirring gospel coda, as three backing vocalists, a drummer and a trumpet player each added their own embellishments.
Chance also discussed raising $2.2 million fundraising effort to help the Chicago public school system. Colbert pointed out that there’s an online petition urging the MC to run for major, but Chance said he had no taste for the glad-handing and glitz that characterize politics.
“Politics doesn’t make the same change that legislation makes,” he told Colbert. “I try to keep my eyes focused on the things that affect us systemically, which is where the law is.”