Chance the Rapper Says Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq Film Is An “Oversimplification Of A Bigger Problem” (Video)
Over the last couple of weeks, acclaimed film director Spike Lee has been on a serious press junket to promote his latest film, Chi-Raq. The film itself is a study of Chicago’s notorious South Side, where gun violence has led to so many deaths, it has become a deadlier place for American citizens than Iraq (hence the title). Always a unique creative, Lee’s film is an adaptation of an ancient Greek play by Aristophanes called Lysistrata, in which the women of a town withhold sex from all of their men in an effort to convince them to cease war and fighting. Lee applied that same concept to the women of Chicago, creating characters who have become so frustrated and devastated by the far too frequent deaths of Black boys, girls, men, and women that they initiate a city-wide sex strike. Before the film’s release, critics like Chicago MC Rhymefest vowed to boycott the film, citing its comedic undertones. However, Lee assured ‘Fest and others that the film was a satire, using elements of humor to critique a serious issue. However, there are those who continue to take umbrage with the film, particularly those from the Chi.
Perhaps the most vocal of the Chi-Raq boycotters has been Chicago native Chance the Rapper, who has been unflinching in his words against the film and Lee as a director. Chance the Rapper’s earliest public statements about the film included things like “Let me be the one from Chicago to personally tell you we not supporting this film out here,” “Shit is goofy and it’s a bunch of ppl from NOT around here telling u to support that shit,” and “It’s exploitive and problematic.” Lee responded briskly, calling out Chance for being the son of an employee of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is currently under fire for allegedly covering up the murder of Laquan Mcdonald at the hands of the city’s police. Lee said things like “If he’s so concerned about Chicago, do your research, show me where he’s made a criticism about the mayor,” and “I think your findings will be surprising. He has not criticized the mayor. Why? His father works for the mayor.” The conversation has once again moved into Chance’s court, and he addressed the ongoing war of words in a recent interview with Chicago’s WGCI 107.5 radio.
Around the 8:47 mark, Chance is asked to respond to Lee’s criticisms, and the young MC minced no words, arguing that Lee’s motivation for making such statements is all part of “promoting a movie.” He goes on to call Chi-Raq manipulative and an “oversimplification of a bigger problem,” adding that Lee “wasn’t really focusing on the issues of Chicago, it wasn’t really about Chicago, to me. It was about this age-old conversation about Black on Black violence, which is some, to me, Bill Cosby ‘pull up your pants’ type stuff.” After calling the film’s depiction of Chicago gang life a “recycled story,” he makes the powerful statement that “the reason that we’re dying isn’t cause there’s two head gang bangers that are into it, we’re dying because we all have PTSD…kids as young as seven and younger than that have seen people murdered in front of them. So that starts a paranoia in your mind that you’re walking around with, and when you’re walking around feeling like people are trying to kill you, you shoot when you get scared.” He finishes his point by saying that he feels Lee’s film “made it look like we’re doing it because of gang life or because our male ego is being compromised when we don’t fight.”
The conversation then tilted towards Lee’s comments about Chance’s father and the context of the Chicago protests calling for Mayor Emanuel to step down amid allegations of covering up police corruption in the investigation of Laquan Mcdonald’s murder because it happened during his re-election campaign. (Mcdonald was shot and killed by police, and the video of the clear and evident murder was made public recently). Chance takes on those allegations and explains the role his father plays in working for the city.
Later in the conversation, Chance speaks passionately about an initiative in which he is partnering, called “Warmest Winter.” Chance is working with The Empowerment Plan Detroit to outfit 1000 homeless people in Chicago with coats that double as sleeping bags. If the project is successful, The Empowerment Plan will build a factory in Chicago to continue making the products to help clothe the city’s 40,000 homeless people, and it will only employ homeless people. Chance encouraged supporters to donate to the cause at chanceraps.com.
You can watch the full interview below.