Rhymefest conducted by Dale Coachman  

Rhymefest Interview

July 2006

MVRemix: What is your view on President Bush and the whole situation going on in Iraq?

Rhymefest: Well I do believe that war is necessary, at times, but this war is not necessary we are not fighting for our country or our freedom we are fighting George Bush's war and not America's, nobody in Iraq had anything to do with September 11th, you know you look at North Korea and we are acting like cowards, what I remember in the State of the Union address George Bush said, " They're building up nuclear missiles and we got to get them before they get us, you know you seein' the little white boy come out and he's not doing anything about it, and the leaders of our government act like cowards.

MVRemix: Do you feel that hip-hop has a role and or responsibility to educate those who don't know about the war more than what the media is actually telling us?

Rhymefest: Hip-hop has the responsibility to educate about everything that affects us in our community, anything, whether it's war, drugs, gangs, that black women are the leading recipients of AIDS and HIV. Yes, we have a responsibility. The kids used to look up to the preachers, the dope man, the pimps, and now they look up to the rappers, but we made the hood so Hollywood every rapper that comes out is from the hood, like, man this is hood music, you know where pop and I never thought I would say that but even our community it takes away what's hip and these brothas get a pat on the head, and a 30 dollar check, and this money that we throw around and value so much really ain't worth nothing. We have the responsibility and I have the responsibility and so with this album Blue Collar is filling that role that responsibility.

MVRemix: Why do you feel that artists go that road, people would say its exploitation and they take the quick buck and they have to feed their families and you would think after a certain point when their families are fed the music they produce would have a little more value to it?

Rhymefest: If you want to feed your families and you listen to what their friends are feeding them you know as far feeding them information about what's right and what's wrong, if you want to get a dollar that's the same mentality as a dope dealer, it's like I don't care if I'm feeding crack to yo momma, my son gotta eat. Well if you don't care about my kids then dammit I don't care about you, and we need to sit down as Black people and have a real dialogue and stop being in denial. Let me give you another excuse, "Well I ain't the problem if you feel a way about it you need to take the time and sit down with your kids and turn the TV off, don't let them listen to it, be a real parent." This is what we say but in a community where 70-75% of the children are born into illegitimate homes what are you sayin'? BET is the parent, the radio is the parent, you know how you grew up, you are not isolated in Black America this is what Black America is and now you gonna kill my child with your venomous words Rhymefest Interviewthese brothas don't deserve that, look at all these rappers gettin shot because the people are judging them as leaders and I'm included I'm a part of that, I ain't all right.

MVRemix: Well I think there is a balance you have to have...

Rhymefest: It's a balance like Scarface would have something like, "Day by day I feel like it's hard to cope, I feel like I'm the one that's doin' dope." Even though he's dealin drugs he still feels vulnerable. 2Pac got a song called a "White Man's World" where he says, "I apologize to real sistas but ya'll borrow from bitches," but in the next rap he say something like, "You wonder why they call you bitch." That shows the duality of man, and the balance, but we don't even have balance. We in Blackface, White people used to dress in make up but we do it for them now.

MVRemix: Yeah it's crazy to me how artists don't realize and or say they are naive to what the music is doing to how children socially develop by listening to their music.

Rhymefest: You right brotha, we need to have a dialogue, but tomorrow you can't deny no more, Blue Collar is dropping.

MVRemix: How was it workin with NO I.D. and how do you compare that with working with Kanye?

Rhymefest: NO I.D. is family, he is like the Godfather of hip-hop in Chicago, NO I.D. trained Kanye and trained Common and I have a lot of respect for him. I tell you what NO I.D. will give you a track and walk out the room and you be like, "Man what's up, you gonna help?" And be like, "Brotha help yourself I did my part." Kanye is like, "Don't do it that way do it this way," Kanye is more like the Quincy Jones sometimes you can't listen to him all the way either. So you have to have your own identity but most of all have a few women in the studio and see if they are bobbing their heads and just try to get people's natural reaction.

MVRemix: How did you end up with working with Mark Ronson on the album?

Rhymefest: I met Mark Ronson through a friend of mine named Indiana Jones and he heard me rap and liked it and he was like, "Yo would you like to do a song on my record?" So I did it and I liked his fusion of hip-hop, rock and alternative and we worked more and more so I offered for him to be a featured artist and he accepted.

MVRemix: How does someone from the Southside of Chicago go from being a janitor to dropping a solo album?

Rhymefest: I done did everything; I was a floral deliverer, a court reporter, Burger King, Wendy's, McDonalds, KFC, and substitute teaching but that's why we call it Blue Collar because it represents the struggle, but how did I come to this? You drop your fear of having to work just to pay your bills, drop your fear of failing, I drop all my fear.

MVRemix: At what point did you drop everything and say this is what I'm gonna do?

Rhymefest: I remember I had a job as a janitor and I was cleanin' the crap out of a bathroom, someone had dropped stuff all over the toilet and so I was cleanin' the crap and my supervisor was standing over my shoulder watching me and I turned around and said, "Is there a problem?" Then she said to me I feel like your heart has not been in at this job lately, so I turned around and I looked at the boo boo, then I looked at her then I turned around and look at the dookie and said, "You know what, you're right I've had enough of this shit, literally," and I walked out and that was it.

MVRemix: A lot of artists from Chicago you Lupe [Fiasco], Common and Kanye seem to have a real spiritual foundation was that from the family, or the external environment?

Rhymefest: I don't know if it's from family because I didn't know my father, my mother and I had problems she had me when she was 15, so we kind of grew up together. I think it's more from the sensibility of what Chicago is. Chicago is the national headquarters of the Nation of Islam, Operation Push, the Urban League, so even though there is ghetto and gang culture, even though there is all kinds of pimp culture there is a side to Chicago that people don't know about, and even the most ignorant vile brothas have a certain sensibility about. Chicago is a microcosm of America, like Dr. King said it was one of the most segregated cities he had ever been to and it's stilled ruled by the son of the man who was in charge when King was assassinated.

MVRemix: What is your favorite track on the album?

Rhymefest: My favorite track is the album, it's one of the greatest albums next to Busta Rhymes' of the year, Time magazine said so, XXL said so, everybody else said so, and this album is great. Right now I'm really drawn to a track called "Sista" on the album it's a very beautiful track.

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