Spike Lee’s latest film Chi-raq has a lot of people up in arms, and the film hasn’t even hit theaters yet. Many like Chicago native Chance the Rapper, have taken issue with the fact that the film is a satire, but Lee says he’s in no way making light of the rampant gang and gun violence in the city.
HipHollywood sat down with Oscar winning director to talk about the controversy surrounding the film and he told us there is definitely a message behind the humor. “It’s a satire, that means humor,” explained Lee. “In no way shape or form are we making light of the grave situation taking place on the south side of Chicago.”
“There is music, but’s its not a musical,” added Lee. “Like most of my films I mix genres, but its’ a Spike Lee Joint that’s the best way to describe it.”
Spike has found himself coming to the defense of his project since filming began earlier this year. Chicago Mayor Rahm McDonald first took issue with the films title for being a play on the words Chicago and Iraq, saying it would paint the city in a negative light and hurt tourism. Others like Chicago rapper Rhymefest said the film was exploiting the cities poor, and was hurting the community.
“I’m very anti what Spike Lee is doing with the “Chi-Raq” film,” the music writer told HH during the Soul Train Awards where he was being honored for co-writing the Oscar winning song “Glory” from the film Selma. “I think he exploited our community by doing that. He exploited poor people. And “Glory” is a song that helped promote change in a positive way and not in a satirical way, laughing at the crisis of what we go through as a people.”
Lee and his cast however believes Chi-raq can effect change, not just in cities like Chicago, but throughout the country by shedding light on the need for stricter gun control laws.
“It is a satire and we do stretch a lot of things, but at the heart of it there is this message of we have to stop killing each other,” said Teyonah Parris. “People need to realize what’s happening and these gun laws need to change, and get people motivated to do that.”
In the film, Nick Cannon plays local rapper and gang leader Chiraq, who is causing all sorts of trouble in Chicago until his girlfriend Lysistrata, played by Parris, is inspired to lead a sex strike to end the bloodshed.
Cannon, who many initially believed couldn’t pull off playing a hard-core rapper, told us he visited nearly every neighborhood on the south side of Chicago to prep for his role. Watch the video to hear him talk about his character, as well as Wesley Snipes who plays his rival, Cyclops.