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Rhymefest 2008.jpg
Background information
Birth nameChe Smith
Born (1977-07-06) July 6, 1977 (age 44)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
GenresHip hop
Occupation(s)Rapper, writer, humanitarian
Years active1996–present
LabelsAllido Records
J Records
dNBe Entertainment
Associated actsMark Ronson, Kanye West, Citizen Cope, Common, Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Che Smith (born July 6, 1977),[1] better known by his stage name Rhymefest, is an American hip hop recording artist, writer, and humanitarian 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 Best Rap Song at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards, and "New Slaves", taken from West's sixth studio album Yeezus (2013).


Born in Chicago, Illinois,[1] Rhymefest started off battle rapping at events such as JumpOff and ScribbleJam against acts like Eminem and Chalk. 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.[2] Rhymefest's film debut was in Emilio Estevez's 2018 film The Public. Fest played "Big George", starring alongside Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Taylor Shilling, Michael K. Williams, Christian Slater, and more.[3] Rhymefest has revealed that he will be releasing an album soon titled Love Lessons Pt. 1. The track "OG Philosophy" featuring Black Thought and Raheem DeVaughn was released in early 2020.[4]


In October, 2010, Smith announced his candidacy for Chicago's 20th ward alderman.[5] 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%.[6][7]

He hosted a "Truth & Reconciliation" event series to enhance awareness about gun violence in Chicago.[8]

Art of Culture (formerly Donda's House)[edit]

Rhymefest is Executive Director and co-Founder of Donda's House, Inc., now renamed Art of Culture, Inc. The organization was originally named after Kanye West's mother Donda West. Artists who were accepted into Donda's House included Hex Hectic.[9]

Che Guevara namesake[edit]

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 very 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 are Lil' this and Young that. What do they do? They act just like their name dictates."[10]

Personal life[edit]

Rhymefest has three children. Rhymefest is married to Heather Michele Smith. He has always been a Muslim.[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 Jesus Walks (as songwriter) Song of the Year Nominated
Best Rap Song Won
2014 "New Slaves" (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Nominated
2016 Glory (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Nominated
Best Song Written for Visual Media Won




  • 1996: "This Is How We Chill (Pts. 1 & 2)"
  • 2005: "Dirty Dirty" (Featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard)
  • 2006: "Brand New" (featuring Kanye West) #38 Ireland, #32 UK
  • 2006: "Dynomite (Going Postal)"
  • 2006: "Fever"
  • 2006: "Wanted"
  • 2007: "Angry Black Man on the Elevator" (featuring Lil Jon)[12]
  • 2009: "Chicago"


  • 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


  1. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Rhymefest Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  2. ^ "Paramount Pictures - Selma - Consider". Paramountguilds.com. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  3. ^ Gardner, John. "Rhymefest: American Rapper, Writer, Community Organizer, and Explorer". The World Music Foundation Podcast. The World Music Foundation. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  4. ^ Gardner, John. "Rhymefest: American Rapper, Writer, Community Organizer, and Explorer". The World Music Foundation Podcast. The World Music Foundation. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Political Rapper Gets More Literal About It". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ Walker, Angus (9 October 2016). "Rhymefest hosts Truth & Reconciliation event series". Hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  9. ^ Reles, Marilyn (April 23, 2020). "Chicago's Hex Hectic Releases New Single Alongside Comic Book Series". The Hype Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  10. ^ Rhymefest: El Che by Chris Dart, Exclaim! Magazine, June 2010 Issue
  11. ^ "RHYMEFEST On Prosperity Gospel, Authentic Christianity, and Joel Osteen (pt. 1 of 2)". Rapzilla.com. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Audio: Rhymefest f. Lil Jon, "Angry Black Man On The Elevator"". Thefader.com. Retrieved 15 August 2015.

External links[edit]