Rhymefest conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Rhymefest: Comedian or Emcee?

July 2005

Getting on the phone with Grammy award winner Rhymefest wasn't the experience I was expecting. Though I'd been told mixed things about his behaviour, I didn't expect for him to be quite so friendly nor funny. We began discussing England and his stomping grounds around the UK before we got into the interview in which Rhymefest unveiled his humorous side.

MVRemix: I heard you're involved with the Brooklyn Hip Hop festival, can you tell me a bit about that?

Rhymefest: Basically it's real Hip Hop in the city. You know they could have done a lot of things. They could have had all types of gangsta rappers. But they've got me. They've got Brand Nubian, they got Q-Tip. It just sounds like it's gonna be a beautiful thing on a beautiful day and I'm always happy to go out and support the community and do what I can to uplift my people. Even though I'm from Chicago, I believe that my community is the inner-city all over the world.

MVRemix: Describe the Chicago scene before everyone became what they've become. Before Twista, Common and Kanye blew up. Was it a competitive race to see who would succeed first? Or was it sort of like a support system, with everyone hoping to get on to help out other Chi-town artists?

Rhymefest InterviewRhymefest: Everybody has always been competing, and everybody's still competing. But at the end of the day, that's Hip Hop. How can you have good music that evolves into more music, into different types of music when people aren't always competing? You can't. So I appreciate the competitive aspects of my city. I wish that when we made it, we could come forward just a little bit more and help others a little more. But that's what I'm here for. Before everybody got put on, there was a lot of people. You knew who was good, you knew who wasn't good. We all met up at certain clubs. It was kind of like how Kool Herc and them did it at the Park. It was in it's baby stages, but it was fresh. It was cold. It was beautiful, and somewhere in London they still do it. When I go to London, that's how I feel. I feel like Chicago before people got put on. I feel like it's fresh, I feel like the potential is limitless.

MVRemix: How did you hook up with Kanye initially?

Rhymefest: Kanye and I met before he was successful. Kanye and I have both been real good friends since teenagers, he just know I rap real good. He beats real good. He knew it would be a good thing to work with me because I was on the local scene, battle rapping and everybody knew me, loved me or liked me. I realized it would be a good thing for me to work with him because he had the freshest tracks.

MVRemix: Aside from "Jesus Walks," have you written much specifically for other artists or is that mainly...

Rhymefest: I co-wrote some things with O.D.B. on "Son Unique," which is an album he has coming out this summer. We did a song together called "Dirty, Dirty." I also wrote with him on a song called "Lift Ya Skirt," which is another song coming out on his album.

MVRemix: How was your relationship with O.D.B.? Or was it just a professional one?

Rhymefest: It was mostly a professional relationship. But O.D.B. was crazy man, how was anybody's relationship with O.D.B.? That's what you'd have to ask yourself.

MVRemix: Tell me about "Blue Collar."

Rhymefest: "Blue Collar Poppin" comin' out September 20th. The guy that works at the Post Office, the guy that the trash out. The guy that works on the elevator, the average guy - that's the blue collar guy. But the "poppin" comes in because this guy on this album wants to be fly. He's a guy that would buy an Escalade or a Hummer and be like, "Okay, I'ma spend one cheque on my Hummer and the next cheque, I'll pay my rent." He wants to be more than just "blue collar." When you hear the songs together, it stands as a story. So when you hear each one as an individual, it stands as a testament to the individual. The songs can stand alone, but as a group they create a whole 'nother vibe. That's why you've got to get the album. I'm real proud of it man. It's me saying "Goodbye" to the workforce.

MVRemix: With that, were all the tracks written by yourself, or was there also a co-writing portion of it?

Rhymefest: Everybody needs a team. Nobody does nothing successful, whether it's journalism, radio broadcasting, music, sports... nothing successful without a team. My team consists of Mark Ronson, No I.D. and the other producers I work with. I don't believe that a producer can give you a CD and say, "Okay, write a rap!" I believe that a producer should be in the room with you should say while you write the song, "No, don't say it like that, say it like this. Don't say that there, say that here." That's production. Quincy Jones produced Michael Jackson. And when you hear Rhymefest, you're gonna hear a well produced artist.

MVRemix: With regards to "The Blue Collar Collection," (mixtape) is that something that you're trying to make a profit from or is that basically a promotional tool?

Rhymefest: That was a pre-deal, before I got my record deal. And that was a collection of songs that we were throwing away, that you'll never hear again. A collection of music, some of it may be on this album. But something to give people a feel of who Rhymefest was. I can do Rock, I can Rap like hardcore Hip Hop, I can flow with songs...

MVRemix: And is "Blue Collar" the album eclectic like that as well?

Rhymefest: Yes.

MVRemix: Due to your affiliation with Kanye etc. a lot of people are referring to you as one of the next big things. Does that intimidate you or does that fuel you and excite you?

Rhymefest: I fear nothing but God. I fear no man, I fear no obstacle. I only fear the creator. But I look at it like this, next big thing... Anybody that sells a lot of records in rap music, and I'm not talking about trendy stuff, I'm talking about a stable career - they can actually rap. People say that because they know I actually have the goods; the music, the lyrics, the concepts and the personality man. Everybody doesn't have that. If that's what they wanna say, that's fine. But I'll just keep doing me. As long as I keep doing me and stay in my lane, I'm gonna be what is meant for me to be. I just hope it's the next big thing.

MVRemix: When and why did you begin your rhyming impersonations?

Rhymefest: I'm not an impersonator. That was a one-time thing, you'll never hear that again. By me writing for some artists, I'm just showing off some skills. That was just like a commercial, "Yo, if you need help, call me. I know your style."

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Rhymefest: Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas.

MVRemix: And, why?

Rhymefest: He just gets on my nerves man, he's just wack. I wanna punch him in his big bubble-eye.

MVRemix: Aside from the album, are you working on anything else musically?

Rhymefest: Nah, but I'm looking for some! Give me a call, J Records. You know where to find me.

MVRemix: What about other business endeavours?

Rhymefest: Yeah, I'm working with Puma, man, I'm working with Puma. I wanna come out with a shoe called "Battle Cats" for the battle rappers. I'll also make a Chess set, called "Chess By Fest."

MVRemix: It'd be a pretty interesting Chess set, any particular theme?

Rhymefest: Wu-Tang Clan vs Alkaholiks. G-Unit vs Murder Inc., DJ's vs MCs. For Pawns you'd have crates of records.

MVRemix: That'd be a good idea actually...

Rhymefest: Yeah, don't tell nobody.

MVRemix: Aside from yourself, who do you see as the next big thing from Chicago?

Rhymefest: There's a guy named Nikki, he's signed to Virgin Records right now. He's with No I.D. This guy does it all. He's Hip Hop, he's gangsta, he's street and his rhymes are so good. I definitely have to put my vote on Nikki.

MVRemix: Tell me about Summer 2005.

Rhymefest: We're gonna do a lot of shows, a lot of promotion. We're gonna do guest features. We're going to basically re-connect people and be refreshing. We're gonna give people what they've been missing, not more of the same, but what they've been missing. Summer 2005, Rhymefest is definitely gonna grow a fanbase.

MVRemix: Do you have any last words?

Rhymefest: Yes. Go out and get the Common album, get "Be." Two months later in July, get Kanye West's album, "Late Registration." Two months later in September, get "Blue Collar Poppin," then you'll have the trilogy. Sit down and listen to all our records while you watch "Star Wars" or whatever. This music that we're doing is the new style, it's refreshing. It's part of the movement. Don't look down on us. Don't miss out and be like "I didn't like them then, but they grew on me." Be the first one up on it.

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