Florida Lawmaker Invokes Chance the Rapper in Beer Bill Vote

Austin Ray

THE GIST
Summer friends may not stick around, but when Chance the Rapper next finds himself in Florida, he’ll have a loyal pal in the state’s craft beer industry.

In voting for legislation that would allow for limited self-distribution, State Sen. Oscar Braynon invoked the Grammy Award winning rapper’s method of releasing his own music to the masses—that is, free of the distribution services of a record label—as reason to allow for brewers to similarly sell their own beer independently.

“[The bill] would allow small brewers to do just what Chance the Rapper did,” he said, according to Saint Peters Blog. “So I’m going to give this [bill] a chance – thanks to Chance the Rapper.”

As GBH reported last week, the bill in question would allow brewers that produce less than 7,000 kegs per year to self-distribute, provided they haven’t yet entered into an agreement with a wholesaler. With help from Florida's resident Chance fan in the senate, the bill passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee with a 6-3 vote, clearing its first hurdle.

WHY IT MATTERS
This is an weirdly good comparison! Music, like beer, is a product, making clear what’s at the heart of State Sen. Braynon’s message: If you make something the public wants, you should be able to release it how you see fit. Or, in other words, no rightly thinking person would suggest a musician has any obligation to go through a third party to bring their music to market. This isn’t a new argument when it comes to self-distribution, but it’s certainly presented here with a cultural aptitude rarely employed by politicians.

What’s even more delicious, though, is the bill’s opposition took the bait and ran with the analogy to make its own case. State Sen. Perry Thurston, who voted against the bill, said the legislation is effectively a “dismantling” of the three-tier system, noting that the Chicago rapper famously “gave his music away… for free” as an up and comer. His point, it seems, was that, sure, self-distribution worked for Chance the Rapper, but that alone wasn’t making him any money. And this argument isn’t new either. Those in favor of the traditional three-tier system often claim that outsourced distribution is the most effective way of establishing a foothold in the marketplace and ultimately turning a profit.

If you’re reading this site, it’s probably safe to assume you already have an informed opinion on the matter, so we won’t bog you down with extraneous dissection of the comparison. And we certainly won't force some ham-fisted Kanye West reference into the debate to fit alongside an already hilarious legislative squabble. [Editor’s note: Actually, yeah we will: “No one tier should have all that power.”] Instead, we’ll leave you with this, the most wonderful sentence published this year:

“[State] Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, looked confused. ‘I’ve never heard of Chance the Rapper,’ he said before voting for the bill.”

May the lord give your journey mercy regardless, Mr. Steube.

—Dave Eisenberg

READ MORE
Craft beer debate includes… Chance the Rapper [Saint Peters Blog]