Rhymefest Voices Outrage Over Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-Raq’
“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.”
The trailer for Spike Lee's Chi-Raq dropped earlier this week, and Chicago rapper Rhymefest has turned to Twitter and the press to voice his outrage over the film's tone and subject matter. In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times, Fest said he is a Spike Lee fan, but that the filmmaker owes his city an apology. "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,” Fest said.
Chi-Raq, which stars Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, adapts the greek comedy Lysistrata in which the wives of warriors withhold sex to persuade their husbands from ceasing to fight in a war. Lee even names the female protagonist in Chi-Raq Lysistrata. The crux of Rhymefest's argument is that while Lee is attempting to illuminate the unprecedented violence in Chicago, he is doing so through fanciful means.
“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.”
Fest has a lot to say in the interview, which can be read in full here. Chi-Raq will have a limited theatrical release starting Dec. 4 before bing made available on Amazon Instant Video.