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Rhymefest to Spike Lee on ‘Chi-Raq’: ‘You owe Chicago an apology’

Che Rhymefest Smith outside the WVON studios on Thursday, February 27, 2014. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media

Chicago rapper Rhymefest — a k a Cheland Smith — does not mince words when it comes to Spike Lee’s upcoming film “Chi-Raq.” He took to Twitter on Wednesday with this message: “Spike Lee exploited poor people.”

Rhymefest had plenty to say about the trailer for the controversial film opening Dec. 4, as well as the celebrated filmmaker, during an interview late Wednesday afternoon.

“I’d say [Spike Lee], you owe Chicago an apology. And you owe Chicago your presence to repair the damage. I would like you to come to Chicago and speak to more community leaders and Father [Michael] Pfleger [of St. Sabina Church]. Get with the people who have programs in the community that are effective, and support those programs.”

The singer said his tweet was sparked by his reaction to the film’s trailer, released earlier this week, and to a script of the movie he received from a Chicago actor, whom he would not identify, who was asked to be in the film and then booted in favor of an out-of-towner. Whether the script was the final shooting version, Rhymefest did not know, but said the trailer supported pretty much what he read in the script he received.

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Posted at 11:00 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2015.