Chance the Rapper is awesome. Not only does he have the kind of music that makes hip-hop exciting again, with his horns, his elastic lyricism and his constant praise of the most high, but he's also got the kind of personality that can't be ignored. He's lovable, humble and hilarious.
All of the goodness of Chance the Rapper was on display at MTV's Video Music Awards on Sunday, and I know I'm not alone when I say I've completely fallen in love with him.
From Chance's re-enactment of an inflatable tube man on the VMA's red carpet to his reaction after Beyoncé slid behind him for a surprise hug to his appreciation of Jaden Smith's fashion choices, the VMAs showed the world what many of us always knew: Chance the Rapper epitomizes the carefree black boy, and it's refreshing to see. Chance's happiness is a dose of joy that many black men deserve.
The climate in America right now is hostile, to say the least. Black men are dying at the hands of authority figures, and witnessing #BlackBoyJoy is a rare, much-needed break from the tragic headlines and hashtags. And let's be real—the world is highly critical of young black men who express joy. So I want to celebrate this idea that young black men can be happy, too.
We knew that Chance the Rapper wasn't our only hope for #BlackBoyJoy; there are more than a few! Check out some of our favorite displays of #BlackBoyJoy.
1. Chance the Rapper
A video posted by SBS???? (@shamika_sanders) on Aug 29, 2016 at 5:44am PDT
Chance has met Beyoncé before. In fact, she and hubby Jay Z came to see Chance on tour once. But it's Beyoncé, so of course Chance had to react the way any of us would have.
2. Steph Curry
The Golden State Warriors' star player and perhaps the happiest and most lovable man in the NBA, Stephen Curry continues to creep his way into the hearts of everyone. His family is adorable, he handles the ball like none you've ever seen before (even Allen Iverson thinks so) and he's a Cinderella story. There's nothing more heartwarming than watching Curry live his life like it's golden, because it is.
3. Cam Newton
This is an athlete who is unafraid of smiling. In fact, I believe that it might be Cam Newton's default face. He was 2015's MVP and continues to impress on the football field. Still, the Carolina Panther's celebrations and dance moves aren't always appreciated. But let's be real: The boy is damn good at what he does, and it's perfectly fine to celebrate your own amazingness. Keep dancing, Cam!
4. Donald Glover
He's a rapper, singer, actor, director, writer, producer, comedian and composer, and the list goes on. This is one creative black man who uses each of his talents to create art. In Donald Glover's new comedy series, Atlanta, we get to see him living through a stereotype of blackness but not limit that character to a monolithic expression of what it means to be a black man in the South. There's nothing more refreshing than someone like Glover, who completely shatters stereotypes.
5. Jaden Smith
A video posted by Our Generation Music (@ourgenerationmusicco) on Aug 29, 2016 at 8:40am PDT
There has always been some negative criticism surrounding this heir to the Smith throne—from disses of his display of gender fluidity to even questions about Will and Jada's parenting skills. There's no denying the privilege that Jaden Smith's been born into, so forgive him if that privilege has led him to live a life of freedom. He has never been caught drunk or stealing—or having a dozen children by different women. He's simply a teen who enjoys a life of reasonable self-expression.
Sure, he's a "Classic Man," but Jidenna brings the flavor and joy of South Africa into everything he does. His performances are always so epic and honest and joyful! It's hard not to smile watching him live his best life.
7. Usain Bolt
This guy is clearly one of the best Olympic track-and-field athletes of all time. He might actually be the best. I know that he's certainly the most impressive. I root for him as if he's on the American team. Usain Bolt runs with ease while everyone around him huffs and puffs. He may be seen as cocky, but honestly, he is just that damn good. If I ran like that, I'd dance on the finish line, too!
Typically known for his sadness or his “nonmasculine” emotions, Drake is a surprising addition to this list. But if you watch him the way I am, you'll see that Drake is a very happy guy, despite his lyrics. Drake redefines masculinity—often making it acceptable to cry over a woman (or be vulnerable toward her), dance in public and smile every once in a while. When was the last time a rapper danced in a video the way Drake does? Exactly—that's black-boy joy!
9. Anderson .Paak
A video posted by M E R I A M|????????| 30 Years Old (@mims3.0) on Aug 29, 2016 at 11:10pm PDT
Music is one of the most freeing forms of self-expression, and there's nothing more free than watching Anderson .Paak get his life on the drums. He seamlessly switches from singing to rapping and playing drums, sometimes at the same damn time, and the look on his face during his performances is nothing short of pure joy.
10. Andre 3000
Perhaps Mr. Benjamin was the first young black rapper to celebrate his own joy on and off the track. We've watched as Andre 3000's career allowed him to stretch the confines of hip-hop, often bringing us anthems that made him the standout star of OutKast. Never forget that it was he who allowed us to shake it like a Polaroid pic’cha!
11. Young Thug
A photo posted by ""JEFFERY"" (@thuggerthugger1) on Aug 26, 2016 at 2:34pm PDT
Whether you call him Young Thug or “Jeffery,” there's no denying that his name demands respect. There's a common thread in #BlackBoyJoy: a fearlessness about being unique and true to what and who you are. Thug is certainly hip-hop, but he turns the genre on its head and offers catchy tunes with very interesting visuals. The cover of his latest mixtape, No, My Name Is Jeffery, shows Thug all dressed up, literally. Many may label him "weird," but I think he's innovative and fresh and definitely exhibiting joy.
This young rapper made the song that none of us can get out of our heads: “Panda, panda, panda!” And even if many of us are still not sure he's not Future, Desiigner has made a name for himself in hip-hop. His high energy and often meme-worthy reactions to basically … anything are always hilarious. He's excited to be here, and it's endearing to watch.