On April 29, Student Government, Inc. presented a showcase of cutting edge musicians in the “Just Press Play” concert. One artist in particular, with witty rhymes and entertaining beats, hailed from the streets of Chicago. His name: Rhymefest.
Initially a substitute teacher in Chicago, Rhymefest, a.k.a. Che Smith, felt that music chose him. “I believe that when you have a talent, [it] isn’t something you’re born with. You don’t plan out or decide- it’s something you just do,” Rhymefest said.
Rhymefest, co-author and Grammy winner for Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” believes his calling is to make music for individuals. “It [music] is not something I decided to do for money, he said. “It’s not something I chose to do to escape the ghetto; this is something that chose me in order to inform people.
“I’m not in control of it. There’s a higher power that has evolved that uses me as a vessel. So when you ask me when I decided to do music as a career, it’s when I decided to submit to the will of God.”
In reference to the true award of making music and being a Grammy winner, Rhymefest said: “I would rather see lives changed. I would rather see someone say, ‘Jesus Walks’ stopped me from committing suicide’ or ‘my life was run this way and this brought me to the Lord.’ That let’s me know I did a job well done.”
Combining “humor, storytelling genius and lyrical velocity,” Rhymefest has collaborated with the likes of popular artists such as Just Blaze, No ID, Heavy Cool and Dr. Dre, among others.
Rhymefest’s album, Blue Collar, which is set to be released July 11, encompasses a combination of feel-good songs (such as “Brand New” and “Feva”) and intense raps pertaining to destitution (“More”).
“We need people from the environment to go back,” Rhymefest said. “If you’re going to talk about what’s real and what’s happening on the streets, about the effects, don’t blow up about it- that’s what it is.”
Rhymefest, with both his resolve, refusal to cower and unapologetic approach,i will be a revolutionary asset to the music industry.
“Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself in order for people to make changes and for people to understand you- And I’m willing to do that.”