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Chance the Rapper at the Grammys, via Twitter

When the rhythm and blues artist R. Kelly revisited his old Chicago South Side neigh­borhood Hyde Park in 2005, he brought his bas­ketball.

A summer camp for inner-city kids had heard Kelly loved the sport and asked if he would come to their gym, play ball with the kids, and teach them the power of self-reliance. When Kelly showed up one day — wearing Jordans and sur­rounded by a four-man entourage — the camp played five shrimpy kids against him and his bar bouncer-sized goons. Out­matched, the kids quickly gave up.

“Y’all played like trash out there,” Kelly said after­wards. “I beat you good — cuz I’m the greatest and you nothing.”  

Then he threw the ball at the rim and left.

This behavior is typical of musi­cians whose talent helps them move out of the inner-city and into the national spot­light. However, we saw a dif­ferent side of the South Side when Chance the Rapper, who hails from Chatham, won Best New Artist, Best Rap Per­for­mance, and Best Rap Album at the Grammys on  Feb. 11. Instead of praising himself — as is common in the rap game — Chance called his talent and pop­u­larity a blessing from God.

Chance isn’t the first artist to do this. But he may be the first nationally popular rapper to thank God con­stantly in his work. Before he accepted his awards, Chance per­formed the song “How Great,” from his new album “Col­oring Book.” Chance inter­po­lated lyrics from the popular gospel hymn, “How Great is Our God,” and per­formed the song with a full gospel choir decked out in white robes. Like all of the songs on “Col­oring Book,” “How Great” gives glory to God and cel­e­brates childlike faith.  

The Grammy per­for­mance is scripted and rehearsed, but Chance’s actions later in the show leave little room to doubt his sin­cerity. When he received the award for Best Rap Album, Chance thanked God again.

“I didn’t think we were going to get this award, so I didn’t have any­thing pre­pared,” he said. But I want to thank God for every­thing that He’s accom­plished for me, for every­thing that He went through with me.”

Chance went on to thank other people — his parents, his friends, and all the indie artists out there — but by putting God first, he humbled himself before a higher power.

Chance stands in con­trast to a number of artists — espe­cially rappers from Chicago’s South Side — who develop unbearable egos because of their talents. R. Kelly is old example — he soiled his public rep­u­tation long ago. But more recently, a whole new host of South Side ego­ma­niacs have crowded the field — Kanye West, Chief Keef, Joey Purp — who thank no one but them­selves for their success.

It’s not just Chicago. Nearly every popular enter­tainer in recent history has had an ego problem that bleeds through our TVs at awards cer­e­monies. Brooklyn rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard drew attention to himself by shouting “Wu Tang is for the children!” when he didn’t get his Grammy in 1998. We all know the story of Kanye West and Taylor Swift at the VMAs in 2009.

But the ego­mania of the music industry may have peaked at this year’s Grammys, even amid Chance’s humility.

When British singer Adele’s album “25” trumped Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” in the top award cat­e­gories, insiders called foul. In nearly everyone’s minds, these awards belonged to Beyoncé because her music was brash and rev­o­lu­tionary. On the other hand, Adele’s music panders to the J.K. Rowlings of mommy-blogs.

Queen Bey sup­porters stepped up with fiery social media posts. Slate mag­azine con­demned Adele for being a symbol of sorry-not-sorry white-guilt. Even Adele was upset: She apol­o­gized on stage to Beyoncé and broke the award in half, a failed attempt to restore the Beyoncé’s stolen honor.

From afar, the whole affair seemed wrapped an eerie we’ve-seen-this-before haze. Whether it be the Beyonce Adele boon­doggle, or Cee Lo Green’s all-gold costume of himself, or Joy Villa’s “Make America Great Again” dress — there’s always a dis­tasteful shade of soapbox-preaching or navel-gazing at the Grammys.

Thank God for Chance keeping it simple and thanking God. Someone needed to stop the madness.