Skip to main content

WBEZ News

How Chance The Rapper Dominated The Political Discussion This Week

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were back at each other’s throats again this week with some extra creative put-downs. And right in the middle of the their latest public spat? Grammy-award winner Chance the Rapper.

WBEZ’s political reporting duo Lauren Chooljian and Tony Arnold sat down with host Greta Johnsen to catch listeners up on just what happened and why it mattered.

Here are some highlights:

On Chance’s $1 million donation to CPS

Lauren Chooljian: The praise from Chance’s fans and what felt like nearly the entire city of Chicago came instantly. He streamed the press conference live on Instagram and Periscope, and tens of thousands of people watched -- many of whom probably aren’t closely following the drama over how the state or city will end up paying for teacher pensions.

Chance used some familiar phrases in that press conference -- like Rauner shouldn’t “hold kids hostage” to his political beliefs. Those are things we reporters often hear the Emanuel administration use when they’re criticizing the governor for vetoing that $215 million for teacher pensions.

Naturally, many reporters in town were quick to point this out. And that Chance’s dad used to work in the mayor’s office. When I asked the mayor about this, he wasn’t exactly thrilled by the question.

“I did not talk to him, and let me say one thing, the assumption or accusation or insinuation is condescending to Chance,” Emanuel said.

Tony Arnold: But you can understand why the question would come up. Think about it: Chance taps into a massive audience that any politician would love to have. And neither Emanuel nor Rauner want to have Chance the Rapper’s audience against them.

For example, Chance had a press conference on Monday. Just a couple hours before that, a memo from the governor’s office gets leaked, and it addresses exactly what Chance is going to be talking about.

On the Rauner memo

Arnold: Rauner came up with two ways to get CPS its money: First, through special tax increment financing.

Chooljian: Yeah, a hard “no” from Mayor Emanuel on that one.

Arnold: Or put the money in a state pension deal that is separate from the so called “grand bargain” that state lawmakers are working on.

Chooljian: Yeah, the mayor doesn’t like that either.

Arnold: Either way, this is a story that went on all week long and it culminated on Friday when Rauner was on WBEZ and he was clear that he wants Chance as his ally.

“There are two options, and this is actually what Chance and I discussed. I discussed with him in some detail, I was hoping he would stand with me and advocate for one of two options to pay for it,” Rauner said.

To hear the entire conservation, click the 'play' button. 

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.

CLOSE X