“Paranoia” by Chance the Rapper is a social commentary on gun violence in Chicago, bringing attention to the lack of discussion in the media as well as how common guns are in the city. The widespread particularly affects the youth who are often the perpetrators and victims of gun violence. From 2008-2012, almost half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims were killed before their 25th birthdays” (amestyusa.org). The exposure to gun violence can also have detrimental effects on children with studies showing those “who are exposed to violence suffer increased rates of depression, aggression, delinquency, and poor school performance”. Gun violence within Chicago is complex, and viewed as a combination of poverty unemployment, lack of access to education and “fragmentation of gangs across the city”. As a result it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause, and even harder to come up with a solution. In this song, Chance does offer some critiques to what we can do to begin addressing this, the first being acknowledging the problem and starting a dialogue.


Pray for a safer hood when my paper good, watch
Captain save a hood, hood savior, baby boy


Here, Chance takes the lead and vows to save his fellow Chicago residents, giving back to the city once he has the money and influence to do so. Since the Acid Rap’s release in 2013, Chance had stopped violence in Chicago for 48 hours on Memorial Day holiday 2014 with the #SaveChicago movement, using twitter to spread his messages of hope. He has created opportunity for young creatives in Chicago to express themselves through open mic events documented through twitter’s @OpenMikeChicago.


They merking kids, they murder kids here/
Why you think they don’t talk about it? They deserted us here/
Where the fuck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric in here/
Probably scared of all the refugees, look like we had a fucking hurricane here/


Chance is drawing attention to gun violence and the lack of discussion in mainstream media. Katie Couric a former journalist, and Matt Lauer a former news anchor, were both hosts of the Today Show. The rapper feels nobody besides the local Chicago news focuses on the city’s murder rate, and it is overlooked by larger national news networks. There is a reference to Hurricane Katrina and the slow government response, with the survivors being called refugees. Drawing this comparison, the artist is suggesting the city may be overlooked because many of the victims are people of color. They are scared of the “refugees”. Chance spoke about this comparison on in interview with Arsenio Hall, “it’s a great metaphor for a bunch of black people struggling and everybody romanticizing it and making music about it. We got a couple of news reports about it but nobody’s really – as far as outside help – really helping us.” Chance in 2017, sat down with Katie Couric in an interview starting a dialogue on the increasing violence and murder rate of the city.


They be shooting whether it’s dark or not, I mean the days is pretty dark a lot/
Down here it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a fucking parking spot/


Illinois has tougher gun laws than most states. It requires a license or permit to buy a firearm, along with a waiting period. Despite this, “It also had a relatively high number of guns recovered — 243 per 100,000 residents. That’s roughly on par with Philadelphia and much higher than Los Angeles or New York.” Neighboring states Wisconsin and Indiana have relatively weak laws in comparison, with neither state requiring licenses, permits or waiting periods to buy a weapon. A 2015 University of Chicago study found that “more than 60 percent of new guns used in Chicago gang-related crimes and 31.6 percent used in non-gang related crimes between 2009 and 2013 were bought in other states”.


No love for the opposition, specifically a cop position/
Cause they’ve never been in our position/


Here Chance briefly touches on the relations between people in Chicago and police. The lyrics suggest that the Chicago natives are upset with the way policemen treat and portray them, with people of color being disproportionately targeted and demonized in the media. The reason for this being misunderstanding/ignorance. The police seem incapable of seeing from the people’s point of view and will never understand how they feel. There is no concrete solution in my opinion.