Rhymefest conducted by Phayde  



Rhymefest Interview

June 2006

Few people in today's rap game deserve success as much as Che Smith. Having worked more than 50 Blue Collar jobs in his 28 years, the man better known today as Rhymefest is now basking in the limelight that has come with winning a Grammy and collaborating with some of today's finest in hip-hop. MVRemix got to chat with the Chicago native, who is currently promoting his upcoming performance at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival (June 24) and the July 11 release of his debut album, appropriately titled Blue Collar.


MVRemix: You performed at the first Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival last year. How were you first asked to be a part of it?

Rhymefest: It was a thing where, you know, "Brand New" had been out and whoever was throwing the show liked that song and they asked me to come out and perform for a little while. That was actually me, Little Brother and Brand Nubian. It was outside, it was a community event. A lot of people came out and we turned that show out! We rocked it. So they asked me to come back this year for Lupe Fiasco, myself and Big Daddy Kane. If I could, I would go rock the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival every year, if they asked me. It's a community event and I love doing things for the community. It shows hip-hop in its purest form, and that's what I'm about.

MVRemix: What kind of memories did you take from last year's festival?

Rhymefest: I took the memory that I saw white people out there, I saw black people out there, I saw latinos. I took the Elzhi Slum Village Interviewmemory of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival being about community [and] racial boundaries coming together in the name of hip-hop. Coming together in the name of having one of those old-school, outside jams, and I'm down for that. I love that.

MVRemix: What about this year's are you looking forward to the most?

Rhymefest: I'm looking forward to something similar. I'm looking forward to seeing the people, and not only seeing the people from the top of the stage, but coming down and being with the people when I get off of the stage, and being a fan of the other artists, seeing Big Daddy Kane perform and having my hands in the air, seeing Lupe perform and having my hands in the air. I'm looking forward to being an artist this year as well as a fan.

MVRemix: Why should people make it out?

Rhymefest: People should make it out the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival because it will be a day that you'll never forget. It will be a day of entertainment, a day of fun, and most of all, a day of family. Everyone who comes to the festival this year will be brother and sisters in the spirit of music and in the spirit of being paternal. It's definitely worth your time and energy and your day.

MVRemix: What you got planned for your performance?

Rhymefest: I refuse to reveal my secrets.

MVRemix: Awww! BOO!

Rhymefest: [Laughs] I tell you one thing I do have planned: You will be entertained. You will be thoroughly entertained. You will not see five dudes onstage all with a mic, saying the lyrics at the same time. You will see a show.

MVRemix: You're not gonna be standing onstage with a mic stand?

Rhymefest: Nah, I'm not gonna be standing there with a mic stand. I'm not gonna be walking back and forth tryin' to hold my chain up and trying to rap. You will see a brother giving you his all.

MVRemix: Do you know how long your set is going to be yet?

Rhymefest: It's going to be long enough for you to leave there and say, 'I think I saw God.' [Laughs]

MVRemix: Alright, so on to the album. Is Blue Collar still set to drop on July 11?

Rhymefest: Yep, Blue Collar drops July 11 and it's going to be wonderful.

MVRemix: You dropped the "Poppin" from the title?

Rhymefest: Yeah. I always liked "Blue Collar." I think "Blue Collar" is just more appropriate for what the album is.

MVRemix: It is true that it's featuring Kanye, Twista, Common, Carl Thomas, Q-Tip and ODB?

Rhymefest: No, no, no! I don't know where you got all those names, I wasn't able to get Common to phone back! [Laughs] Kanye, Carl Thomas, ODB, Mario. That's about all, artist-wise. It's mostly production-heavy; Cool & Dre, Mark Ronson, Kanye West, No ID. You know, it's very musically-infused. It's not real artist-driven. It's like, you're going to get the artist you paid to get, and that's me. It's not a compilation or a mix tape. It's my album, and I'll be on it, dammit. [Laughs]

MVRemix: Where did you get your first big paycheck from and what did you do with it?

Rhymefest: What'd I do with my first big paycheck? The first thing I did was pay all my mother's bills and took my son to Toys 'R' Us and told him he had 30 minutes.

MVRemix: How much did he end up rackin' up?

Rhymefest: My son racked up I think about $1,500, $2,000.

MVRemix: Daaamn. Must be nice.

Rhymefest: See, I didn't want him to rack that much up. When I took my son to the toy store, I thought I'd confuse him, because he didn't know where we were going. I took him to Toys 'R' Us and he thought he was gonna get one little whatever, and I was like, 'You got 30 minutes.' I thought he would stand there and be lookin' like, "Oh my God," but he took off! He didn't say "thank you," he didn't say "wow," he didn't say "where'd you get the money from?" He took off, grabbed a basket and all I saw was boxes flyin' in the air in different aisles. Then he came back, in about five minutes, and the basket was filled up, and I was like "Good. We filled the basket up," and he's like "It ain't been 30 minutes yet" and he went and got another basket. I was like, "Oh Lord. I got more than I had bargained for. I should have thought this out better."

MVRemix: He's been rehearsing for that day in his mind for years.

Rhymefest: [Laughs] And you talking about kids, you think, "Okay, they gonna run and get some toys?" Naw. After he got his two baskets, you know where he went to with his last 10 minutes?

MVRemix: Bikes?

Rhymefest: No. He went to the electronics section. "I want that PlayStation, I want these three games." I was like, "Nigga, that's $100!"

MVRemix: I'm assuming you don't miss being a janitor.

Rhymefest: No, I do not miss being a janitor! I love my job now. For real. Being a janitor is a job; being a rapper is... it could be a career. Like--

MVRemix: You are fortunate enough to have it be your career.

Rhymefest: Yes ma'am. You are exactly correct.

MVRemix: If hip-hop was a woman, what would she look like?

Rhymefest: She would have a bangin' ass body and an ugly ass face.

MVRemix: Why's that?

Rhymefest: Well, right now. Because the face of hip-hop is once you get on mainstream radio. The face of hip-hop is a lot of what you see on BET. A lot of people think, "This is what hip-hop is about. This is what black people are about." Naw. The face of hip-hop is not a gold grill. Shouldn't be, but right now, that's what it is. Gold grills are our blackface. It's making us a caricature of us. Instead of the fat lips, put the grill to your mouth. But the body of hip-hop - the thing that makes that face be able to walk and hold up, and stand on that head, and make that head stand on that neck, that is keeping hip-hop strong - is the people who are dope: OutKast, T.I., Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Common, Rhymefest. I mean, the people that really care about the art of rapping: Ghostface Killah, Jay-Z. I mean, the list goes on and on and on: Geto Boys, Scarface. You know, the body is bangin', but the face is a bit ugly. But you know what I'm gonna do, because I care so much about this girl, because I love this girl so much? I'm gonna take her to a plastic surgeon. I'm gonna get her cheeks lifted. I'm gonna show her how to put some ProActive on her face. I'm gonna make her happy, and put a smile on her, make her stop frowning so much. She's always mad! I'm gonna present to the world a more beautiful woman.

MVRemix: What makes you happy?

Rhymefest: Being creative makes me happy. Knowing that I've done a job well done and that people have something from it that helps them live their lives in a more nourished way. That makes me happy. Seeing children develop under the rules of life, then releasing songs like "Jesus Walks" and seeing people say "Yo, that saved my life. I was gonna commit suicide. That song changed me." Like, on my album, you're gonna hear a song called "Bullet." You're gonna hear a song called "Devil's Pie," a song called "Drifter," that is going to be the will of God. It's going to inspire people. I'm giving the message that's delivered to the people, and to see the people get the message, understand it and move forward with it, that truly makes me happy.

MVRemix: What pisses you off?

Rhymefest: What pisses me off is ignorance. There is no excuse, no reason, to be ignorant, especially if you live in this country. If you have access to the things that we as black people, as white people, Latinos in America have access to, there's no excuse for ignorance. What pisses me off more than just ignorance is people who are aware, people who know better, and still propagate and promote foolishness. I have no patience for it, and I have no sympathy for it. Including myself.

MVRemix: Tell me something that no one knows about you.

Rhymefest: I'll tell you something you don't know about the album: This album was associate produced by No ID, who is considered to be the godfather of hip-hop in Chicago. He trained Kanye, as far as how Kanye does his beats [and] he did Common's first three albums. No ID is a very hard man to get for a song, let alone to associate produce your album, so I was very grateful for that.

MVRemix: Anything else you want to add?

Rhymefest: I would like to thank everybody who read this interview and tell people that I am Blue Collar. They can hit me up on MySpace.com/Rhymefest and I will answer them. And I would like to thank Lupe Fiasco and Big Daddy Kane and everyone who's a part of this Brooklyn [Hip-Hop] Festival and everyone who comes out for being part of the regeneration of hip-hop in its purest form.





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