Chicago musician Chance the Rapper revealed a special new song at last night’s ESPY awards, a celebration of the life and work of recently deceased icon Muhammad Ali.
The rapper was joined by frequent collaborators during his touching tribute, including fellow bandleader Donnie Trumpet and vocalist Jamila Woods. The three-and-a-half minute single began with a boxing-style microphone descending from the ceiling of the awards hall, where a dapperly dressed Chance was there to receive it. A heartfelt performance, replete with samples of the boxer himself speaking, followed.
“Ain’t nowhere greater/Ain’t nowhere great/Ain’t no where better/Ain’t no one prettier/Ain’t no one wiser/Ain’t no one better,” sang the rapper in the chorus of his new single, while a massive montage of classic photos of Ali splayed out on the screen behind him.
Ali, a longtime social activist after his astonishing career as the heavyweight champion of the world, died in June after a long-fought battle with early onset Parkinson’s disease, which lasted over 30 years.
Though it comes so shortly after the release of his most recent mixtape, Coloring Book, which emerged just a few months ago, audiences who follow Chance the Rapper’s career are likely unsurprised to hear new sounds emanating from the musician. He has built a name for himself via constant collaboration and compelling new material for some time now.
Chance shares a desire to help the world at large with the recently deceased icon of the ring. Last winter, he helped raised thousands of dollars to purchase jackets for the homeless in his hometown, and he has been a successful advocate of allowing streaming-only (non major-label) releases to be Grammy eligible — a massive win for independent musicians the world over, even if their chances of winning an award remain slim to none.