Rhymefest (born July 6, 1977) is an American hip hop artist, philanthropist, and politician from Chicago, Illinois, whose first official album, Blue Collar, was released on July 11, 2006. His prominent songwriting credits include co–writing Kanye West's "Jesus Walks", which won the Grammy for Best Rap Song at the 47th Grammy Awards, "New Slaves" taken from West's sixth studio album Yeezus (2013) and "Glory", which received the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the 2014 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Career

Rhymefest started off battle rapping at events such as JumpOff and ScribbleJam against acts like Eminem and Chalk. Rhymefest was seen on the MTV show Punk'd when Kanye West was the subject of a practical joke on the set of his second music video for "Jesus Walks." Rhymefest was the first to greet West as he stepped out of a van after it had been revealed to him that he had just been "Punk'd." Rhymefest was on the set of the video to give his input as he was co writing the track. Also appeared on TRL along with Kanye West and additional stars introducing new artists to the game such as Pharrell Williams introducing Robin Thicke.

Rhymefest was additionally featured heavily on the episode of the VH1 show Driven that dealt with the life storey of Kanye West as told by his family, friends and colleagues. They met as 15-year-olds in Chicago and have been close friends ever since.

Rhymefest guest starred in an episode of the second season of Nick Cannon's Wild 'N Out on MTV, originally aired on Thursday, February 23, 2006. During the "Wildstyle" segment of the show, Fest freestyled to Nick Cannon, "The black team, a real hard team to deal with, what the hell is this? A little baby Will Smith? I don't understand, by all accounts, Nick Cannon, get out of here, you need to Roll... Bounce!" After that, in response to a rap about his lisp, he rapped, "Yeah I got a lisp, I understand this, but why you look like a piece of big Suge Knight's shit? I don't understand, wait a minute, don't buzz me, Celie from The Color Purple, 'You sho is ugly!'" He additionally performed "Brand New" with Kanye West on the episode.

"Brand New" was featured on the series premiere of the MTV programme 8th & Ocean. It was being played in the Miami club Privé while Britt danced with Adrian.

Fest appeared on Chicago PBS station's local affairs programme Chicago Tonight as the first rap artist ever on the program.

Appears in puppet form and performs the new Crank Yankers theme song.

Appeared on an episode of Chancers with Matthew Knowles.

Appeared on an episode of Last Call with Carson Daly, where he performed his single "Fever". Instead of reciting the third verse, he broke into a freestyle about Carson and people in the audience.

Rhymefest appeared as a guest on WGN and CLTV's television show, LIVE. He had 3 appearances on the show, discussing WalMart's hiring of Blacks, his Englewood campaign for alderman, and his rap career.

Smith co-wrote "Glory" alongside John Legend and Common, for the 2014 motion picture Selma. The song received the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the 2014 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Politics

In October, 2010, Smith announced his candidacy for Chicago's 20th ward alderman. He placed second in the February 22, 2011 election, and was defeated by incumbent Willie Cochran in the April 5, 2011 runoff election, getting 45.4% of the vote to Cochran's 54.6%.

He hosted a "Truth & Reconciliation" event series to enhance awareness about gun violence in Chicago.

Rhymefest the Goodwill Hip Hop Ambassador

On October 19, 2006, Rhymefest met with the United Kingdom's Parliamentary Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron of the Conservative Party. They discussed the issue of violent rap lyrics which Cameron had highlighted as a problem and they both agreed that hip hop music shouldn't be banned, but that rappers should portray the positive side of life in their music. According to the London Metro, Rhymefest treated the British politician to a performance in his House of Commons office and even invited him to venture with him to a nightclub. However this was turned down by Cameron due to his busy schedule. In a March 2011 interview on , Rhymefest discussed his relationship with David Cameron, including a frank discussion regarding Mr Cameron's reaction to him.

Che Guevara namesake

Che Smith, named for the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, addressed the matter, stating:

"When you have a name, a real name, like Che, it's definitely something, whether you want to or not, something that you have to live up to. How could I be named Che and then do all songs about dancing in the club and who got the fattest ass? That would be an oxymoron to who I am. I think there's something quite important in a name. So I think when we name ourselves and name our children, I think we have to think about what the future will look like. I named my son Solomon, and when people look at him they say, "Oh, Solomon, the wise king," and I think he's growing into that role. It's evident even in hip-hop. You see people who're Lil' this and Young that. What do they do? They act just like their name dictates."

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

YearNominee/workAwardResult
2015"Glory" (as songwriter)Best Original SongWon

Grammy Awards

YearNominee/workAwardResult
2005Jesus Walks (as songwriter)Song of the YearNominated
Best Rap SongWon
2014"New Slaves" (as songwriter)Nominated
2016Glory (as songwriter)Nominated
Best Song Written for Visual MediaWon


Discography

Albums

Singles

  • 1996: "This Is How We Chill (Pts. 1 & 2)"
  • 2005: "Dirty Dirty" (Featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard)
  • 2006: "Brand New" (featuring Kanye West) #32 UK
  • 2006: "Dynomite (Going Postal)"
  • 2006: "Fever"
  • 2006: "Wanted"
  • 2007: "Angry Black Man on the Elevator" (featuring Lil Jon)
  • 2009: "Chicago"

Mixtapes

  • 2004: Brand New
  • 2005: A Star Is Born, Vol. 1
  • 2006: Plugg City: City on My Back
  • 2008: Mark Ronson Presents: Man in the Mirror
  • 2009: El Che: The Manual Mixtape
  • 2010: Dangerous: 5-18
  • 2010: Man in the Mirror 2.0