Spike Lee

Chicago Rapper Rhymefest Slams ‘Chi-Raq': ‘Spike Lee Exploited Poor People'

The rapper tweeted his opinion a day after the trailer for "Chiraq" was released

Chicago rapper Rhymefest tweeted his opinion on Spike Lee's movie "Chiraq" a day after the official trailer for the film was released, and it appears he is not in favor of it.

Rhymefest, whose real name is Che Smith, tweeted that Spike Lee "exploited poor people."

The trailer for "Chiraq," released Tuesday, begins with the sound of gunshots, and a narrator says, "Homicides in Chicago, Illinois, have surpassed the death toll of American Special Forces in Iraq." The statement is followed by the proclamation, "Welcome to Chiraq." 

"Chiraq" is based on the plot of the ancient Greek comedy "Lysistrata," which tells the story of a group of women who withhold sexual privileges to try to stop the Peloponnesian War.

The movie was filmed in Chicago over the summer with many Chicagoans standing in as extras. It features several stars, including Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Teyonah Parris, Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack, who appears to be a priest and activist, according to a shot in the trailer.

The film has spurred controversy since Lee first announced his plans to make it, and several Chicago politicians have spoken publicly about the film, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said the film's title denigrates residents of Englewood and surrounding areas.

Rhymefest has also been politically involved in Chicago. In 2011, he ran for alderman of the 20th Ward, losing in the runoff election to incumbent Ald. Willie Cochran, who won 54 percent of the vote.

In a Chicago Sun-Times video, Rhymefest expressed disappointment with Lee's film, saying "Chiraq" was not a place, but a product of the mind.

"I live in Chatham. I don't live in Chiraq," Rhymefest said. "Chiraq is in your mind." 

"Chiraq" is set to be released on Dec. 4 in select theaters.

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