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Spike Lee Attacks Chance The Rapper Over 'Chi-Raq' Criticism

Godamnit Spike Lee, when are you going to know when to stop?
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Godamnit Spike Lee, when are you going to know when to stop?

Admittedly, you and your movie have been like what Donald Trump's candidacy has been to Trevor Noah. It’s been fun, Spike, but now you’ve gone too far.

Yesterday, in an interview with MSNBC, the New York City director pointed to Chance The Rapper’s comments in opposition to Lee's Chi-raq, calling the film "exploitative," by deflecting away from the movie itself and attacking Chance, asking why he doesn’t stand up against Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel more often. Going further, Lee points out that Chance’s father, Ken Bennett, is the mayor’s Chief of Staff. 

"First of all, Chance the Rapper should say full disclosure: his father works for the mayor. He's the chief of staff. His father is the chief of staff. Show me any criticism, if you're so concerned about Chicago, do your research, show me where he's made criticisms about the mayor. I think your finds will be surprising. He's not criticized the mayor. Why? His father works for the mayor."

Yes, Spike, Chance’s father is an impressive man who has persevered cutthroat politics in his hometown to become chief of staff to the mayor. You think that just happened all of a sudden? You think it’s an easy job for an African-American man in a city regarded as one of the most segregated in the world? The same city that watched its only black mayor, Harold Washington, die while in office; the mayor Mr. Bennett began his career working for. But we don’t talk about that, right?

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Nah, Spike, you can miss me with all this. We know about Mr. Bennett, and just yesterday I was literally in the streets protesting the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, but you don’t get to come to our city and tell us what is right and wrong. Chance has done more for Chicago in the last couple years than almost any politician, certainly more than any filmmaker, but there was no representation of young men doing right by their community in your film, was there?

You mention that Chiraq was a name that local rappers created, that you simply took what they gave you. This is your biggest misstep. No one gave you anything. No one asked you to come here. Those local rappers that started shouting Chiraq? They’re now making songs called “Fuck Spike Lee.” 

You're far from the cultural icon you think you are Spike Lee and we don’t idolize you in Chicago. This shit has gone too far. The only people who have supported the movie have been those who have appeared in it, bolstered by contractual agreements I’m sure. 

"He never said Spike, you can't make your film. But he was trying to convince me to change the title Chi-Raq. First of all, I didn't come up with the title. Local Chicago rappers came up with the title. And his reasons for changing the title were troubling to me. He said the title Chi-Raq would hurt tourism and economic development. [...] As an artist, I'm going to look at it, and I'm going to look at both sides."

No, Chance hasn't explicitly stood up to Rahm Emanuel, and yes, he has received awards from the mayor. But instead of being narrow-minded, look at what those associations have allowed him to do for the city at large. At a time when most from the city were illustrating their day-to-day with gunshots and dark tales, Chance found a way to let the world know about the violence in his hometown in a more careful way with songs like "Paranoia." We're still wondering where the fuck Matt Lauer is at. I've personally watched closely as Chance has used his growing power and influence to help every single person around him. He's one of the most humble rappers, if not humble people, I've come across, this is the absolute last person to be calling out. His father is his father, what can he change about that? 

Do you want to go after someone Spike? Go after Kanye, who hasn't given back to the city a fraction of what this younger generation has, go after the inactivity of local aldermen who didn't organize a vote against Rahm this past summer, go after the machine that has existed in Chicago for generations. But you would only go after those people if you actually cared about Chicago instead of defending and promoting your film, so of course, you go after Chance. 

The fact of the matter is that anyone who knows Chance The Rapper or listens to his music understands that he is a man of the people. There’s a lot wrong with Chicago, but he’s certainly not part of it. Nowhere in Chiraq do you see the rapper, the artist, as a cultural influencer outside of guns and violence. No scenes of Vic Mensa marching with protesters, no shots of local artists hosting weekly open mics, none of that. But Spike Lee did give us plenty of bullshit, and he appears to be determined to keep giving us more every day.



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