Chance the Rapper has bought Chicagoist, a local-news publication whose parent company shockingly shuttered last year after the staff voted to unionize. The injection of cash into the endangered and important trade of neighborhood journalism marks the latest in a line of apparent good deeds by the 25-year-old Chancelor Bennett. The rapper whose music preaches Christian love and forgiveness is headlining the Special Olympics. He has donated a million dollars to Chicago Public Schools. He has chaperoned field trips, called for moratoria on gun violence, and blasted racist beer ads.
But Chance does not exactly sound saintly as he announces the Chicagoist buy and touts his other mitzvahs on “I Might Need Security,” the first of four new songs he released Wednesday night. Rather, the track revolves around a loop of Jamie Foxx singing, sweetly, “Fuuuuck you. Fuck you.” The rapper’s first line goes, “I ain’t no activist / I’m the protagonist.” Which is to say, he’s not a mere vessel for causes. He’s a person, and people are flawed.
That distinction is important to remember in an age when many of the working rap gods have made public service into spectacles. Kanye West’s 2018 tirades have called for love across partisan lines and a troublingly ill-defined spirit of service. Jay-Z keeps doubling down on the disputed notion of his success as a helpful political symbol—while also doubling down on out-and-out political statements about policing and mass incarceration. Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther work injected more motivational pep into his tortured-preacher routine. Even the solipsistic Drake brandishes a new “good guy” persona by caring for his kid and showering the needy in cash.