“Help me with this; I’m lost”
That's how NY Post columnist and shallow-minded human Phil Mushnick decides to open his article about Chance The Rapper becoming the White Sox’s club ambassador. He’s perplexed, baffled, dazed and confused by their decision. How could they pick a rapper who treats women as objects for his sexual pleasure, uses the n-word in his lyrics and revels in, as he puts it, “Standard dehumanizing gangsta rap.” Phil’s dissection of Chance’s music comes from playing Russian roulette on Google and coming across the song “Smoke Again.” One song, a single record, is the basis for his judgment. It’s like judging the skill of a running back on one play, or judging a journalist for one terrible article on a subject that he doesn’t understand or even tried to truly grasp. Phil is so lost in his fog of premature perception that he inadequately labeled one of rap's most shining beacons of hope as “dehumanizing gangsta rap.”
Phil fails to understand that Chance The Rapper has more to offer than partying and bullshit. “Smoke Again” doesn’t capture who he is as an artist or as a man - it’s a silly song that was taken seriously by someone clearly searching to have his worst instincts confirmed. If Phil cared about the subject he was researching, digging deeper than the surface of a random Google search, he would’ve come across the music that appropriately represents the rapper. To call the music Chance records, “no-upside, can’t expect-better-from-us, women denigrating, blood-on-the-breeze rap” is the kind of vomit that can only be spewed by disillusioned assumption.
I spun the Google wheel and landed on “Smoke Again,” which begins, “l don’t even talk to them on the phone again. Leave in the a.m., on the road again. So, b—h, let’s f–k so I can smoke again. I gotta smoke again, I got s–t to do".
From there it “grows” more vulgar and, as per the genre, more boastful. Standard dehumanizing gangsta rap — young black men are N—-s”, he’s especially fond of dope and regards young women as a sub-species in over-and-out service to his immediate libidinous whims, especially oral sex.
“Angels,” a more recent release, is an uptempo showcase of Chance's love for Chicago and the angels that surround him. Angels, not gangbangers. “Wonderful Everyday” bleeds warmth and happiness by taking a childhood memory and turning it into musical nostalgia for an entire generation. “Sunday Candy,” the beautiful ode to his grandmother, is so full of joy and bliss that your spirit lifts just hearing the song.
How do you get off smearing the name of an artist for a few lyrics that appeared in a song from over three years ago? Could a rapper who views women as, "Easily discarded sexual junk" make a song like "Lady Friend"? It's fair to question those lyrics but it doesn’t define him. It shouldn’t define him. Not when there’s a catalog of music and lyrics that are more suited in representing the fun, insightful and creative man who is wowing the world.
Chance loves Chicago. It’s in his music, his videos, even in his spare time. Phil failed to mention the Open Mike showcase that Chance has been throwing for high school kids in his city. Phil failed to mention the $100K that Chance raised last December; the Warmest Winter 2016 was a collaboration between Chance and the non-profit The Empowerment Plan based in Detroit to produce 1,000 EMPWR coats that are able to transform into sleeping bags.
Phil would rather mention that Chance is 22-years-old and unmarried with a daughter as if to make him appear as another statistic that spends his days smoking weed, having babies out of wedlock and rapping about all his dastardly deeds instead of a loving father. It’s a disgusting assessment that's cringeworthy to read from beginning to end. Before touching on Chance, Phil looks at Chicago, stating how it’s known for being a “murder capital,” placing a microscope on all the bad that surrounds the city.
Yes, Chicago has its dark days, there are issues with guns and violence that Chance actually touches on in his song “Paranoia.” But unlike Phil, Chance isn’t painting the city in dehumanizing generalities. In the words of Chance, “I know you scared, You should ask if we scared too, If you was there, Then we’d just knew you cared too.” It’s beautiful how he captures the darkness that surrounds him but he never lost his love for the city. Chance has never stopped trying to make Chicago a better place.
Phil asked in his closing statement, “How much faster can we backward? How much lower can we fall?”
He has it wrong, all wrong. Moving backward? This is an independent artist with no ties to any mainstream machines getting the opportunity to work with his city’s beloved major league baseball team. That’s not just a step forward but leaps and bounds over an old way of thinking. Chance The Rapper isn’t a sign that the last days are upon us but a testament that we are moving into better days. He’s inspiring to all rappers and creatives who are striving to do it their way. This isn’t a stereotypical rapper, he doesn’t fit your stereotypical presumptions and should be respected as such. With or without The White Sox, with or without Phil Mushnick, Chance The Rapper will continue to do great things for music and his community.
For what it’s worth, he met Kanye West and will never fail. Now that’s the lyric Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, Ken Williams and Mayor Emanuel, Rob Manfred and Rev. Jesse Jackson can recite in public.
Hope this helps, Phil.
By Yoh, aka Yoh The Writer, aka @Yoh31.