From our good friend and Chicago-native Miss Maule:
In the upcoming primary elections in the City of Chicago, one race sticks out to me like “a bullet and target.” A hometown favorite of mine, Grammy Award-winning rapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith is running for Alderman of the 20th Ward. Representing the Englewood and Woodlawn neighborhood (just bordering my hood of Kenwood/Hyde Park) Rhymefest is making a natural move from his poetic activism to the realm of local political activism. I believe a true leader finds multiple platforms to execute his/her vision and that is exactly the path he is blazing.
I first learned about Rhymefest from a local Chicago magazine when he released his debut album Blue Collar in the summer of 2006. From the title of the album alone it was clear that he was representing himself as an ordinary man, straying from the glitzy and glammor-fied ways of a lot of hip hop, with expressed profound lyricism. After hearing the album I instantly connected to the authentically Chi-Town tracks like “Chicago-Rillas” and “Brand New.” However, it was the songs like “Bullet” with folk singer Citizen Cope and “Sister” (Eddie Kendricks’ “Intimate Friends” is one of mine/hop hop’s favorite samples) that convinced me of his artistic dynamism. He worked with a range of musical talents including Q-Tip, Kanye West, Bump J, Mario, Malik Yusef, No I.D., O.D.B, Citizen Cope, and Mark Ronson.
Just an hour ago, when my best friend Lauren Fox told me about Rhymestfest’s candidacy, I dropped everything to read about it and write this piece. It was exciting but not shocking given my knowledge of his music; Rhymefest’s love and care for the community was transparent on Blue Collar. While my absentee ballot from Providence can’t empower his candidacy for the 20th ward, I can surely send my endorsement through this message.
Mr. Smith articulated it best: “I believe that everything powerful… everything that connects is local. When hip-hop first started, it started with a microphone and 2 speakers and here we are with a microphone and a camera and maybe some speakers somewhere. But we need to reengage the local youth and reengage the community. Everything else comes second.”