Late last night, Chance The Rapper shared four new songs. The first of those tracks, “I Might Need Security,” included a curious boast: “I bought the Chicagoist just to run you racist bitches out of business.” Moments after the song showed up online, a press release confirmed it: Chance had indeed bought the local-interest website the Chicagoist.
The Chicagoist started out as part of the Gothamist network of websites, all of which covered their own cities. In 2017, billionaire owner Joe Ricketts, who had bought the Gothamist network earlier in the year, shut down all of the websites in the network shortly after the employees voted to unionize. (For a while, in what looked like a purely spiteful move, he even deleted those sites’ archives.) Earlier this year, the public radio stations WNYC, KPCC, and WAMU announced that they had bought all of the former Gothamist websites and that they were relaunching them. And now Gothamist confirms that Chance has indeed bought the Chicagoist from WNYC.
In a statement, Chance says this:
I’m extremely excited to be continuing the work of the Chicagoist, an integral local platform for Chicago news, events and entertainment. WNYC’s commitment to finding homes for the -ist brands, including Chicagoist, was an essential part of continuing the legacy and integrity of the site. I look forward to re-launching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content.
Chance has obviously done a whole lot for the city of Chicago over the years. But his relationship with the media has lately been more fraught. Last year, word got out that Chance had demanded that MTV News pull a mildly critical story about him, saying that he’d never work with the network again if the story stayed up. (They pulled it.) And on “I Might Need Security,” he makes that Gothamist announcement after grousing about the coverage he’s gotten from Crain’s and from the Chicago Sun-Times. If my Twitter feed is any indication, plenty of media types don’t seem especially excited about Chance’s big move into publishing. Still, he’s got to be a better owner than Joe Ricketts, right?