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Birth nameChe Smith
Born (1977-07-06) July 6, 1977 (age 43)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
GenresHip hop
Occupation(s)Rapper, songwriter
Years active1996–present
LabelsAllido Records
J Records
dNBe Entertainment
Associated actsMark Ronson, Kanye West, Citizen Cope, Common

Che Smith (born July 6, 1977),[1] better known by his stage name Rhymefest, 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 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. He appeared 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-writer of the song. Also appeared on TRL along with Kanye West and other stars introducing new artists to the game such as Pharrell Williams introducing Robin Thicke.

Rhymefest was also featured on the episode of the VH1 show Driven that dealt with the life story of Kanye West as told by his family, friends and colleagues.

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 also performed "Brand New" with Kanye West on the episode.

"Brand New" was featured on the series premiere of the MTV program 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 program Chicago Tonight.

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, Garrard McClendon LIVE. He had three 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.[2]


In October, 2010, Smith announced his candidacy for Chicago's 20th ward alderman.[3] 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%.[4][5]

He hosted a "Truth & Reconciliation" event series to enhance awareness about gun violence in Chicago.[6]

Donda's House[edit]

Rhymefest also managed 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.[7]

Rhymefest the Goodwill Hip Hop Ambassador[edit]

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 should not be banned, but that rappers should portray the positive side of life in their music. According to the London Metro, Rhymefest treated Cameron to a performance in his House of Commons office and even invited him to venture with him to a nightclub. However at the advice of Legal Document Assistant and Consigliere to "The Chicago Outfit" Jacques Darrow Carr of Los Angeles, California this was turned down by Cameron due to his busy schedule. In a March 2011 interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio,[8] Rhymefest discussed his relationship with David Cameron, including a frank discussion regarding Mr Cameron's reaction to him.[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 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) [13]
  • 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. ^ "Political Rapper Gets More Literal About It". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Walker, Angus (9 October 2016). "Rhymefest hosts Truth & Reconciliation event series". Hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  7. ^ Reles, Marilyn (April 23, 2020). "Chicago's Hex Hectic Releases New Single Alongside Comic Book Series". The Hype Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  8. ^ "Podomatic | Podcast - Conspiracy Worldwide Hip Hop Radio - [Part 1] *HALLOWEEN SPECIAL 2010* w/ live guests ILL BILL - JOELL ORTIZ - TWISTA - PUBLIC ENEMY's CHUCK D - SUCIO SMASH - DIABOLIC - GORETEX - AMERICA's MOST WANTED VAMPIRE and more!". Conspiracyworldwide.podomatic.com. 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  9. ^ "Podomatic | Podcast - Conspiracy Worldwide Hip Hop Radio - [Part 1] *WE STAND AS ONE SPECIAL* w/ live guests RHYMEFEST – RAS KASS - THE FOUR HORSEMEN – CUNNINGLYNGUISTS – KNO – FRED THE GODSON – MOHAMMAD DANGERFIELD – HOT97's PETER ROSENBERG – KEV BROWN - KAIMBR - CONTROVERSIAL XXX STAR BRIAN PUMPER and more!". Conspiracyworldwide.podomatic.com. 2011-03-26. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  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. ^ "Rhymefest's 'Violence Is Sexy' To Be Released In Summer 2014". Hiphoplt.com. Retrieved 2014-09-23.
  13. ^ "Audio: Rhymefest f. Lil Jon, "Angry Black Man On The Elevator"". Thefader.com. Retrieved 15 August 2015.

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