Second Chance: Chance the Rapper Will Revive The Chicagoist


Chance the Rapper has announced his purchase of the Chicago news website, The Chicagoist, via his new track "I Might Need Security". In a press release, the native of the West Chatham neighborhood stated, "I’m extremely excited to be continuing the work of The Chicagoist, an integral local platform for Chicago news, events and entertainment...I look forward to re-launching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content." 

Chance the Rapper may only be twenty-five years old, but he has leveraged both his wealth and celebrity to the next level to become a proud representative of Chicago. Through his philanthropy, Chance has demonstrated his ability as an artist to engage with his community and reach beyond his music. In 2017 he donated 1 million dollars to Chicago Public Schools and raised an additional 2.5 million. He has taken an active role in his hometown's politics- he argued against a proposal for a $95 million police academy at a city council meeting in November. Just a week ago, he headlined a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.

His integrity as an individual has been evident since he first began rapping, and resisted signing to a label despite his music's success. His collaborations with artists from Kanye West to Skrillex have allowed him to garner an impressive following, while remaining an independent artist. In 2017, his third mixtape Coloring Book won the Grammy for Best Rap Album. Coloring Book was the rapper's first project since becoming a father, and the shift in tone and thematic material was certainly noticeable to fans. Unlike Chance's prior mixtapes, Coloring Book is heavily influenced by Chance's commitment to his spirituality. The work pays tribute to Chance's Christianity and even features a gospel choir.  

Chance's unanticipated midnight drop of four singles on July 19, 2018 was met with excitement from fans and praise from critics. The most talked about track is "I Might Need Security" and is immediately a surprising shift from his devotional work on Coloring Book. The track features a pitched-up sample of Jamie Foxx saying "fuck you" on loop throughout the song. The sample is taken from Foxx's 2002 stand-up comedy special also titled "I Might Need Security". Chance's sampling choice is explained (albeit a bit cryptically) in the second verse:

"And I can't do nothing right, they gon' always be at me 
I missed a Crain's interview, they tried leaking my addy 
I donate to the schools next, they call me a deadbeat daddy 
The Sun-Times gettin' that Rauner business
I got a hit-list so long I don't know how to finish 
I bought the Chicagoist just to run you racist bitches out of business

One of the inevitable consequences of fame is the media's interpretation of one's fame, and even a celebrity with a seemingly clean image like Chance is not safe from speculation. Chance has faced a few debacles with the press that he mentions here. He refers to Crain's Chicago Business, a local newspaper that reported Chance had bought a condo in Streeterville. He then recalls a more inflammatory accusation from March 2017 by The Chicago Sun-Times. Just four days after donating to Chicago Public Schools, the Sun-Times ran an article by Mary Mitchell titled "Child Support Spat Could Hurt Chance the Rapper's Image". In the scathing discourse, Mitchell stated, “$1 million won’t make a dent in the $215 million deficit the Chicago Public Schools is facing...You can’t hand out money to benefit children you don’t know and come off looking like you are being stingy when it comes to your own child". Chance posted an Instagram video two days after the article's publication, accompanied by his then 18-month old daughter and her mother, Kirsten Gorley. Chance said to the camera, "stop worrying about how good my family is", and ended with "Sun-Times, get the fuck back".  

This isn't Chance's first trouble with unfavorable press. In 2016, Spin reported that Chance and his manager, Pat Corcoran, pressured MTV News to take down an article that was too critical. The piece, titled "Chance the False Prophet", presented a negative review of Chance's live performance at The Meadows Festival in Queens, New York. Writer David Turner critiqued that Chance had lost his complexity and depth on Coloring Book. Chance's team allegedly urged MTV News that the rapper would never work with the company again unless they deleted Turner's article. MTV agreed, although the article itself can still be found at Medium. 

Chance's announcement of his purchase of The Chicagoist has been met with enthusiasm at the idea that a local celebrity who has constructed a career around his artist independence will bring similar ethics to the publication. Vanity Fair even published an article titled "Chance the Savior" in response to the impending revival. The Chicagoist, established in 2004, is a digital publication on Chicago news and lifestyle that was recently shut down in November 2017 by billionaire owner, Joe Ricketts, in response to the staff's decision to unionize with the Writer's Guild of America East. New York Public Radio's WNYC acquired the rights to The Gothamist and related websites, and has now sold The Chicagoist to the young Chicago native. However, some critics have speculated that Chance's purchase is more concerned with protecting his own integrity. If even a local newspaper such as The Chicago Sun-Times is more than happy to attack his celebrity, gaining power over a media source means Chance will have at least one outlet that will always uphold his name.