One month ago, Chance the Rapper put out four songs, set apart by four different abstract art pieces. But the one that stuck out like a sore thumb was the song represented by the artwork mirroring the Arthur fist meme that was popular during the second half of 2016. The song, “I Might Need Security,” gained traction for Chance’s announcement that he bought The Chicagoist, a local Chicago newspaper, as well as several aggressive declarations of frustration towards people he felt had wronged him. Chance took to Genius on Friday to clear up any confusion, annotating most of the song’s lyrics.
The track encapsulates the energy of the Arthur meme effectively, as sampled throughout the track is Jamie Foxx singing “fuck you.” Chance comes out with a vengeance in the first two bars of the first verse, rapping about his own role in the city of Chicago; “I ain’t no activist, I’m the protagonist / I don’t co-captain it, I fly solo like one cup in the cabinet.” He’s been one of the most publicized people working to improve the lives of Chicagoans for years and he knows it. He goes on in the verse to stick his tongue out at the Illuminati, and call for Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel to cease his political career; “And Rahm, you done, I’m expectin’ resignation / An open investigation on all of these paid vacations for murderers.” On many occasions, Emmanuel has taken inadequate positions on police brutality within the city, and Chance wants everyone to know how he is unfit for this position of power.
The second verse is where it gets dicier. In the first verse, Chance established himself as the good guy that’s undefeatable, and that he’s more than willing to use his power to take others out of it.
With the second, Chance airs his frustrations with news outlets and media companies in Chicago, proving that the superhero to his city has an angry side. He speaks on a Crain’s interview that never worked out that developed into new-home drama, what he calls a “hit piece,” from the Chicago Sun-Times, and his purchase of the Chicagoist. Through his annotations, Chance defends himself from these journalism outlets. He illustrates them as being unfair and having bad intentions. This only supports his cloudy past with media outlets. In 2016, MTV posted a since-deleted review of Chance’s most recent album Coloring Book. The removal of the article is strongly linked to backlash from Chance’s team, who called the article offensive based on claims that the album lacked the “emotional complexity” of his previous work.
Despite these run-ins with certain websites, let’s not get off track on who Chance is and what he means to his city. He’s donated millions to Chicago public schools and co-founded SocialWorks, a youth empowerment program based in Chicago. Chance’s inspiring activism towards his city is helping the next generation of Chicagoans, but problems with his personal character may leave his reputation murky. The serious assertions made by the Sun-Times, as well as his interaction with MTV, bring into question how the Chicagoist will be run.
In his annotations on “I Might Need Security,” Chance writes about using the platform to “provide more jobs for black and brown people in the city as writers at a high profile publication.” This cause is an important one and helps provide people of color with opportunities in an industry which is becoming increasingly difficult to break into. But Chance still has to prove that he’s going to let journalism do its job. The local paper hasn’t regained a presence on the internet yet, so time will tell in deciding whether Chance has what it takes to run an honest, uncensored media outlet.