This week in very bad hot takes, sports columnist Phil Mushnick took to page 50 of the New York Post to criticize White Sox ceremonial first-pitcher Chance the Rapper, whom the team just named official ambassador. The charges? He’s "22, unmarried with a child," and above all, spins "pro forma, no-upside, can’t-expect-better-from-us, women-denigrating, blood-on-the-breeze rap."
Now, calling Phil Mushnick out-of-touch is no stretch. This is the guy who previously attacked ESPN commentator Stephen A Smith’s "street-hip brotha yak." Who, when Jay-Z unveiled the black-and-white Nets jerseys, suggested the team change its name to the "New York N——s." Hopes for Mushnick understanding hip-hop are…low.
And let's not forget that the infamous tabloid where he published the hit piece had the audacity to begin distribution inside our city—without any local content—last September, only to pull out a short three months later.
But comparing Chance to "gun-toting, itchy-fingered gang members" is just plain silly. Had Mushnick bothered dialing 312, anyone could've told him that the rapper is hardly a menace to society, but rather a great booster of Chicago.
Mushnick’s chief beef is with the song "Smoke Again," a weed anthem from 2013’s Acid Rap. To Mushnick’s point, it has some pretty gross lyrics:
My dick won't even call her
’cause she left all that lipstick
And sure, Chance shouldn't get a pass on that one. Facing misogyny in hip-hop matters, and the genre's otherwise progressive figureheads aren't exempt. But if Chance came up posturing—as young rappers and most 19-years-olds do—he’s more than pivoted since. Attacking an old track is a waste of air. In fact, had Mushnick flipped a song past "Smoke Again" on Acid Rap, he’d have heard Chance lament the very street violence Mushnick thinks he's trumpeting:
My big homie died young; just turned older than him
I seen it happen, I seen it happen, I see it always
He still be screaming, I see his demons in empty hallways
Funerals for little girls, is that appealing to you?
From your cubicle desktop, what a beautiful view
Two songs past that, he’d hear Chance tell his dad he loves him. A few singles later, he'd get Chance dedicating “Sunday Candy” to his grandma. Next would come “Angels,” in which Chance condemns Xanax, tells kids to stay in school, and quite literally vows to “clean up the streets.” Not to mention he spent last winter raising money to buy convertible jacket-sleeping bags for the homeless.
If Mushnick wants to save pop music from sexism—and dictate the right kind of role models for Chicago—he could stand to pick a worse guy than Chance. Is the kid a model progressive? Not exactly. But should he be allowed—even celebrated—for tossing out a ceremonial first pitch in the city he champions? Yeah, he should be.