Chance the Rapper delivered the commencement speech to graduates of New Orleans’ Dillard University, where the rapper also received an honorary degree for his philanthropy and continued service to the youth Saturday.
The 22-minute speech was inspired in part by Beyoncé‘s revelatory, now-legendary Coachella performance; “With that performance, I realized that greatness can never be stagnant,” he said. Chance then encouraged graduates to “eclipse” their heroes, citing Beyoncé’s Coachella as the moment she surpassed another of the rapper’s heroes, Michael Jackson.
“I realized that all of us have a responsibility to be greater than the people who came before us. We have a responsibility to be not as good as them or live up to their example, but to actually surpass them, even when it seems scary. We have to overcome that fear and be greater than our role models,” Chance said. “We have to erase the fear and stigma behind eclipsing our heroes.”
Chance added, ” Beyoncé had Mike. Mike didn’t have Mike. Mike had James Brown. James Brown had Cab Calloway, and so on and so on,” he continued. “Right now, the greatest performer who ever lived might very well be in this audience. And that person has something Beyonce never had. They got Beyoncé… Living up to your heroes is amazing, but it’s not good enough. The difference between goodness and greatness is going beyond.”
Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, the president of the historically black college, said of Chance’s speech in a statement, “The activism is a bonus with Chance. I thought he made for a great commencement speaker because of his spirit of being entrepreneurial and authentic. But his civic engagement, including encouraging people to vote and willingness to speak out on issues, like his recent opposition to a Heineken ad, are just as paramount.”
Watch Chance the Rapper’s full commencement speech starting at the 1:30:30-mark of the video below: