Rhymefest on Spike Lee: "you owe Chicago an apology."
The trailer for Spike Lee's new film "Chi-Raq" debuted on Tuesday to much intrigue and mixed feelings. The consensus from Chicago rappers seems to be that the trailer is at best a joke, at worst a travesty. The most outspoken opponent of the film has been veteran Chicago rapper Rhymefest. After watching the trailer earlier this week, he tweeted, "Spike Lee exploiting poor people," and he elaborated on his feelings in a new interview with the Chicago Sun Times.
“I’d say [Spike Lee], you owe Chicago an apology," he said. "And you owe Chicago your presence to repair the damage. I would like you to come to Chicago and speak to more community leaders... get with the people who have programs in the community that are effective, and support those programs."
"This is a perfect example of somebody not from Chicago who comes to Chicago and exploits the violence and the situation without leaving anything sustainable in its place."
Starring Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, & Samuel L. Jackson, "Chi-Raq" adapts the classical Greek comedy "Lysistrata," in which the wives of warriors stop having sex with their husbands in order to put an end to their war. Fest said he is a Spike Lee fan and plans to watch the film, even though he found the trailer and script appalling.
“I saw the trailer. It looks just like the script I read, and it verified everything I thought," he said. "I was more shocked when I saw the trailer than when I was reading the script. I grieved for the 9-year-old little boy who was shot [Tyshawn Lee], and now a comedy [“Chi-Raq”] is being made about death in Chicago.”
Southside rappers joined Rhymefest in blasting the film on Twitter.
"That Chiraq trailer look like a Parody," wrote Lil Bibby.
"That shit gotta be a prank," wrote Lil Durk.
"No comment," wrote Lil Reese.
But it was Rhymefest, a longtime proponent of social justice and community building, who expressed the general sentiment most eloquently.
“Spike Lee should have used Chicago writers. None of them were from Chicago. This movie is not about a war. This is not a war. Wars are fought for a reason generally. People fight over land, over money. . . . That’s not what’s happening on Chicago’s South Side,” Rhymefest told the Sun Tribune. “People like to say its gangs fighting over turf. That’s not it. It’s senseless violence. People feel disrespected and not validated. They’re poor. Guns are cheap. Drugs are cheap. Because guns and drugs are cheap senseless violence happens. The guns and drugs get into the hands of children. . . . You can pick up the story of this film and drop it into any [city]. Chicago was used because of the media’s portrayal of the violence and it was used as a way for [Lee] to sell tickets. We were used. We were exploited. This story is not specific to Chicago.”