Chicago’s hopes of having a representative of the hip-hop generation on the city council have been dashed: rapper-turned-aldermanic-candidate Che “Rhymefest” Smith today announced in a press release that he wouldn’t seek a recount in last week’s 20th Ward election, which he lost to incumbent Willie Cochran. This comes as a bit of a surprise, considering that Smith lost by a narrow margin, around 3 percent, and has publicly made allegations that the vote was tainted.
It’s also a surprise that Smith even made it this far. Even given his name recognition among the ward’s rap-fan demographic, he had his work cut out for him going up against Cochran, who’s backed by City Hall and powerful social-services nonprofit the Woodlawn Organization. In his campaign Cochran did his best to whip up voter fear about Fest’s profession, mischaracterizing him as a “gangsta rapper” who promotes violence, drug use, and misogyny. Chicago hip-hop fans know Fest as a conscious MC who’s friends with Cornel West and has lobbied on behalf of hip-hop in Congress and the UK Parliament, and these tactics had plenty of them grinding their teeth.
In the same short press release, Smith also announced that next week his campaign will release “a report about some of the election irregularities that occurred in the 20th Ward.”