Every year Time Magazine produces a list of a hundred people who they feel have been the most influential in the past year and on Thursday they released their 2017 List. This list is broken into 5 categories: Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, Titans and Icons. Check out our breakout stars from this year’s list and what their nominees had to say about them.
Chance The Rapper
Photograph by Ramona Rosales—August
Years ago, my grandmother asked me to call her friend’s grandson. “I want you to give him some words of encouragement,” she said. “He wants to be a rapper.” She gave me his number, and I left him a message. I told him to keep following his dreams. Then I forgot all about it.
Years later, my teenage daughter played me a new mixtape she loved from an artist named Chance the Rapper. There was something unique and soulful about it—I could tell he really knew hip-hop. And when I first met him, I realized that he knew me too. “You won’t remember this,” he said, “but you called me when I was a kid.”
Chance upends expectations about what artists, especially hip-hop artists, can do. He streams his albums instead of selling them. He makes music from an unapologetically inspiring and Christian perspective—music that transcends age, race and gender. He gives back to his Chicago community. And he does it all as an independent artist, without the support of a label.
I’m glad Chance followed his dreams. I hope he always does.
Nominated by Common.
Photograph by Elizabeth Weinberg—Redux
Of The Exorcist, James Baldwin once wrote, “I was most concerned with the audience. I wondered what they were seeing, and what it meant to them.” Sitting in a crowded theater, I wonder the same as I take in Jordan Peele’s astonishing Get Out. In the shifting laughter lacing the room, at once rancorous, nervous, defensive and, yes, knowing, a cinema maxim is turned on its head—rather than presenting us a mirror, this multi-hyphenate auteurist shows us more of ourselves than we ever wanted to see, a window through which America is left no choice but to recognize the purgatory of her own sunken place.
This isn’t new for Jordan. Alongside Keegan-Michael Key of Key & Peele, he’s used comedy to shed light on the murky detritus of American exceptionalism for years. With the success of Get Out, it’s clear he’ll do so for many more.
And while I won’t quote Baldwin again, of this I’m sure: he would have loved this film. As well as its maker. As the audience tenses around me, Baldwin’s dictum rings true: Jordan Peele is America. And she is him.
Nominated by Barry Jenkins.
Photograph by Joe Pugliese—August
When Donald Glover started as a staff writer on 30 Rock, he was still living as an RA in a dorm at New York University. He worked hard and contributed a lot of good jokes. After a few years, he requested a meeting with me and fellow producer Robert Carlock. Donald was grateful for the opportunity but fe