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Rhymefest in 2008
Rhymefest in 2008
Background information
Birth nameChe Armond Smith[1]
Born (1977-07-06) July 6, 1977 (age 46)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresHip hop
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
Years active1996–present

Che Armond Smith (born July 6, 1977),[2] better known by his stage name Rhymefest, is an American rapper and songwriter from Chicago, Illinois. He is best known for his work with fellow Chicago rapper Kanye West, with writing credits on his songs including "Jesus Walks" (which won Best Rap Song) in 2004 and "New Slaves" in 2013. He also co-wrote "Glory", for Common and John Legend in 2014, which received a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

As a recording artist, he signed to Mark Ronson's Allido Records, an imprint of J Records in 2006, where he released his debut album Blue Collar in July of that year.


Born Che Smith in Chicago, Illinois,[2] 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.[3] Che has expanded his gifts beyond the borders of music. The subject of the Showtime and Break Thru Films documentary, "In My Father's House", Rhymefest purchased the childhood home of his estranged father only to find that he'd been homeless for most of Che's life, Rhymefest then embarks on a journey to reconnect and redeem their relationship. Rhymefest's film debut was in Emilio Estevez's 2018 film The Public. He played "Big George", starring alongside Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Taylor Shilling, Michael K. Williams, Christian Slater, and more.[4] 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 arrived in early 2020.[5]


In 2006, Smith was invited to the British House of Commons to discuss hip-hop and policy with David Cameron.[6] In October 2010, Smith announced his candidacy for Chicago's 20th ward alderman.[7] 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%.[8][9]

In 2016, he hosted a "Truth & Reconciliation" event series to enhance awareness about gun violence in Chicago.[10] He is running for an elected position as a member of the Chicago school board in the inaugural 2024 election for the post. He is running in the 10th district, which is located on Chicago's south side.[11]

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

Rhymefest is Executive Director and co-Founder of Art of Culture (formerly Donda's House), Inc.[12] The organization was originally named after Kanye West's mother Donda West.[13] Artists who were accepted into Donda's House include Hex Hectic.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Rhymefest is Muslim. He has three children and is married to Heather Michele Smith.[15]

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."[16]

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)[17]
  • 2009: "Chicago"
  • 2024: "Creator" (featuring Brittney Carter and Rell Suma)
  • 2024: "Pop" (featuring EP Da Hellcat)


  • 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. ^ "Repertory". ASCAP. Retrieved August 19, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Rhymefest Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  3. ^ "Paramount Pictures – Selma – Consider". Paramountguilds.com. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  4. ^ Gardner, John (February 11, 2020). "Rhymefest: American Rapper, Writer, Community Organizer, and Explorer". The World Music Foundation Podcast. The World Music Foundation. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  5. ^ Gardner, John (February 11, 2020). "Rhymefest: American Rapper, Writer, Community Organizer, and Explorer". The World Music Foundation Podcast. The World Music Foundation. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  6. ^ "Who is Rhymefest? Everything you need to know about the Chicago rapper". NME. May 27, 2018. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  7. ^ "Political Rapper Gets More Literal About It". Chicago Reader. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  8. ^ "BLOG". www.friendsofrhymefest.com. Archived from the original on October 22, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  9. ^ "'Rhymefest' Smith loses in bid for alderman". www.chicagotribune.com. Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  10. ^ Walker, Angus (October 9, 2016). "Rhymefest hosts Truth & Reconciliation event series". Hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  11. ^ Kapos, Shia (March 28, 2024). "The Buzz". Politico Illinois Playbook. Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  12. ^ "Kanye West's Charity Changes Name, Becomes Art Of Culture". Forbes. June 5, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  13. ^ Garcia, John (June 5, 2018). "Donda's House, charity named for Kanye West's mother, renamed after social media spat". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  14. ^ Worsham, Malcolm (April 19, 2020). "OnTheRadar- Hex Hectic- "Wanna Be Me"". Respect Mag. Retrieved September 17, 2022.
  15. ^ "RHYMEFEST On Prosperity Gospel, Authentic Christianity, and Joel Osteen (pt. 1 of 2)". Rapzilla.com. August 23, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  16. ^ Rhymefest: El Che by Chris Dart, Exclaim! Magazine, June 2010 Issue
  17. ^ "Audio: Rhymefest f. Lil Jon, "Angry Black Man On The Elevator"". Thefader.com. Retrieved August 15, 2015.

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