Rhymefest: El Che Grand

Chicago-bred MC Rhymefest is one of the industry’s, relatively, best kept

secrets. He has gained notoriety for his clever battle-rap skills, where he

outshined Eminem back in ’97 (see YouTube). He also penned Kanye’s

Grammy-winning “Jesus Walks.” Now, ‘Fest is ready to show the world the total

package.  

 

This week, he will drop a new mixape,

The Manual, and in June, he will

release his sophomore album El Che. Not

one to bite his tongue, ‘Fest was extra candid as he weighed in on the Charles

Hamilton controversy, his relationship with K-West and his take on the state of

Hip-Hop.

 

 

AllHipHop.com: So tell us what’s going on with The Manual mixtape?

 

Rhymefest: You

know what’s funny? I was talking to Lil Jon last night. He was in the studio.

He was like, “Man your mixtapes are so great.” He was

talking about Man in the Mirror and

how great it was. And he was like, “Why are you giving this stuff away?” You

know, on The Manual, I got songs with

Queen Latifah, Sadat X, Greg Nice, CL Smooth. I got

like the classic artists on this. I took old school beats, classic Hip-Hop and

got them remade and updated into stuff that would be palatable today.

 

And then what I did was took the artist and had them rap

over today’s type of tracks. Like Queen Latifah and I rhyming over more a

southern style track. Or Sadat X and I rhyming over more of a party beat. Greg

Nice and I are doing a song over more of a club track. So Lil Jon heard it and

he’s like, “Man why aren’t you selling this stuff? Why are you giving this

stuff away? What are you getting for it?”I did Man in the Mirror, and my fans picked up

on it and loved it and I’m appreciative of that. But it should have been more

ill than the Grey Album. It was

better than the Grey Album. It was

better than anything out that year.

 

Scram Jones ft. Saigon, Rhymefest

& Haffa “Yes We Can” Video

 

 

AllHipHop.com: The

Chicago Tribune even said it should be a Grammy.

 

Rhymefest: It

should have been! More so than Blue

Collar, I would say The Man in the Mirror

didn’t get its just due. How could anybody from XXL or The Source have

the best mixtape of the year, or runner up and not put Man in the Mirror there? How could they do that? It’s wrong. It’s blatant

disregard for Hip-Hop and it’s a blatant disregard for what’s good and it’s blatant

commercialism.

 

AllHipHop: Do you

think they’ll come around this time around?

 

Rhymefest: I

don’t know. I don’t care what they do. It just made me feel like, Yo I did what I supposed to do. I made a piece of

greatness. I put creativity into it. I even put star power in there. Me [and] Talib did a joint. Me and Mark [Ronson] did our thing. I put it out, I brought attention to

it. You know what I mean? Did MTV. Did this, did that. All kinds of stuff.

Whoever didn’t get it, didn’t listen to it, or didn’t hail it for what it is.

It’s their fault not mine.

 

But back to The Manual,

I’m trying to figure out if I want to give it away now. Because

it’s so good (sighs). None the less, I said I would, so I will. In two

weeks what is going to happen is you are going to hear my new song “Chicago” accompanied

by a video made by none other than my best friend and brother, Konee Rock, who

does a lot of my stuff. I did this ill video for “Chicago” – which will

be on El Che but will be on The Manual CD as well. I love comic

books and in the video I’m morphing into all of these super heroes like Iceman,

the Torch, Wolverine, Black Panther. You want to hear the rap?

 

AllHipHop.com: Let’s

do this.

 

Rhymefest: This

is the verse to my verse to my first single “Chicago” that I’m about to release.

Rappers been set up, yup yup the setup, no more Tupac telling women to keep their head up. A whole lot of

hipsters, Internet and kids now, (inaudible), oh you’re big now? Let me show

about things, get Red Bull so I could rip off your wings. I make them promise

now to never wear tight jeans, I aint skater so I don’t wear Ice Cream. I ain’t dissin’ Pharrell but let’s be for real, some of y’all

is gay as hell. Hell boys, little boy you like elroy,

you’re more like the child on (inaudible). Half Black Panther, arm and hammer

you missed your favorite moment like Obama’s grandma. (inaudible)

I’m armed with grammar, you’ll get arrested f**k reading (inaudible) I’m from

Chicago.

 

AllHipHop.com: That’s

fire, but I don’t think Pharrell will like it.

 

Rhymefest: My

thing is this. I don’t care no more man. What are you gonna do? Not play my

record on the radio? What are you gonna do, not give me a beat? You didn’t give

me a beat no way. So what are you gonna do, make me

any more f**king underground? Once you realize that you are [in] control of

your life… Once you are able to be completely free, than you are able to be

what you were meant to be. And that’s what El

Che is about. That’s what The Manual

is about. I don’t feel I need to get every up and coming rapper and put them on

my s**t. But you know who I really wanted to work with? Queen Latifah, Brand

Nubian, Greg Nice. I’m looking at like who’s hot in the streets. I’m looking at

it, who’s hot to me. The Manual is

going to come out two weeks after “Chicago” drops – which will be this

week. It’s gonna be nuts.

 

 

AllHipHop.com: Let’s

get into the Charles Hamilton thing. You clearly explained on your Myspace blog

why you made the dis track. Where do things stand between you two now?

 

Rhymefest: He didn’t

respond. His response was, “I’m gonna show him, I’m gonna release three

mixtapes that sell in the same week” (laughs). Like that was his response. But

we’re gonna see what is more important: quantity or quality?

 

People know it. When Rhymefest come around, people get

excited and happy and they  know it’s

the best show in town. And they know when songs like “Exodus” come out, it’s

some real s**t and when I walk in the room, people straighten up and get off

their bulls**t because I’m about to call them out. The magic is there. What I’m

saying in regards to Chuck (sighs). There’s a certain piece of magic that’s

missing.

 

Rhymefest- Exodus 5.1 – Rhymefest

 

AllHipHop.com: What

were you more offended by, Hamilton trying to call you out at your own show or him

telling people he destroyed you in the battle?

  

Rhymefest: Um,

all of the above. But I’m not really offended. Offended means I’m emotional

about it to a certain extent. It wasn’t emotional as it is, oh this is Hip-Hop.

And in Hip-Hop, I can’t allow you to think that you can aggress me. I can’t

allow you to think I’m not who I am. He could say, “Okay I’m gonna

try to battle Rhymefest,” and bring out the YouTube

cameras and then try to get a YouTube moment. And then when it don’t go your

way, now you can just flip the story how you want to flip the story or keep

saying my name like there are no repercussions (sighs). There are repercussions.

 

I spoke to him on the phone and he said, “Now what you are

gonna say, what’s your response? Now I’m on the phone.” I said, “You called me

Charles, what are you talking about what’s my response?” He said, “You could

have called me if you had a problem with me.” I said, “Did you call me and tell

me before you dissed me all over YouTube? Did you give me any forewarning when

you hopped on stage and tried to battle me?” And than he says, “At the end of

the day you don’t want to take it to the streets.”

 

That’s when I lost my cool. That’s when I said, “Motherf**ker, I will break every

bone in your body.” Then there was six seconds of silence. That’s when I

realized I was talking to somebody who was not emotionally or mentally equipped

to handle what was really happening at the moment. I don’t have anything

against that guy. Chuck is okay, he’s trying to do his

thing. I was just saying, just have a little respect. Don’t think because

somebody at 28 and you 21 that you are faster and better in every way and

everybody’s gonna love you because you got the Andy Milonakis disease. I was

just playing, I wasn’t even for real with Supersonic. I was just f**kin’

around. He’s not equipped to respond. So it’s like, hopefully…hopefully he

learned from this. He’ll keep his head straight and release some quality music.

 

Super Sonic (Chucky Cheese) – Rhymefest

 

AllHipHop.com: What

can fans expect from your upcoming album El

Che?

 

Rhymefest: They

can expect that I took great care with this album. There is something special

with each song, so it’s not like, “Song number three, let’s get to song number

four.” Like these songs weren’t done over beats just e-mailed to me and I just

wrote raps over. These were created in the kitchen, hot and warm and smelling

good like good cookies.

 

AllHipHop.com: Is

there a theme?

 

Rhymefest: The

theme of El Che is freedom. The

freedom to express yourself without sounding like everyone else. That is what El Che is about. It’s about truth,

entertainment, dope ass lyrics and heart. And to me that’s revolution.

 

AllHipHop.com: Do

you think you’ve grown since Blue Collar?

 

Rhymefest: I

don’t know what do you think?

 

AllHipHop.com: Based

on those verses, it seems like it. I think you are addressing where Hip-Hop is

at right now.

 

Rhymefest: And

what it can be. I’m not just complaining like, “Yo, it’s

f**ked up, everybody’s wack.” I’m giving examples on

how Hip-Hop can be better. I’m being the example of better Hip-Hop. Like if you

dis me twice, I’m bout to a leak a dis song and guess what, my dis song ain’t

gonna be about how I’m gonna beat you up and pull a gun on you. My dis song is

going to be really creative. You know what I’m saying? Or, alright

now I’m about to drop a mix CD and I’m about to tell a kid, “Alright here’s an

artist that you haven’t heard from in a long time, but still can rhyme.”

 

Now I’m about to drop El Che. Like I’m out here doing exactly

what it is I’m saying needs to be done. Not just saying that it needs to be

done. That’s like an Internet, armchair revolutionary. You know they sit in

their chair and they go on the Internet and they be like, “You know what needs

to really happen in Hip-Hop.” But they never gonna do nothing about it.

 

AllHipHop.com: Did

Kanye do tracks with you for El Che?

 

Rhymefest: Kanye

hasn’t done any tracks, although he texted me this morning and was like, “What’s

up. The album’s coming up, I haven’t heard it, I haven’t done any beats for it,

I’m recording everything, you a fool, I’m Kanye West fool!” (laughs). I think

I’m gonna go find him.

 

 

AllHipHop.com: Obviously

both you and Kanye were influential figures in each others

careers. Where do you guys stand right now?

 

Rhymefest: You

know, it’s so funny. People will be like, “Kanye’s the reason why everybody knows about Rhymefest.”

Like, “Kanye put him on.” Yeah I see it like that,

but I see it another way. I had a record deal before “Brand New” came out. So I

was coming regardless. Actually Mark Ronson, who is the one who I signed with

originally and Kanye helped with “Brand New” and going out helping promote it

and performing with me. But it’s never been about, for me at least, it’s never

been about me, Kanye and Hip-Hop. I don’t use him. I don’t exploit him. If we

work together out of our friendship, that’s great. If we don’t, he’s still my

friend and my brother. I love him like a brother. His mother counseled me. I

used to call her “Miss Maya” because she reminded me of Maya Angelou.

 

My thing is, I don’t want anything from Kanye. All I want

from him, is continued brotherhood. The ill thing about it is he’ll say

something like, “But I’m here for you, so why don’t you use me, because that’s

what I’m here for.” But I just don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want him to

look back and say, “Damn that brother is just trying to give me up, and I don’t

want to be a part of that.” But he’ll say it’s my pride. Maybe it is my pride,

but then again, I don’t want to be one of them kind of people.

 

 

AllHipHop.com: How

much longer do you see yourself in the game? What’s the short term and long

term goals for you?

 

Rhymefest: That’s

a good question, I don’t know. I look at Jay-Z and a lot of guys who have been

doing this forever. I feel like, as long as I can keep getting the message put

out, I’m gonna keep putting it out. As long as people

keep responding to it, I’m gonna keep doing it. When there’s nothing left for

me to say, I’ll shut the f**k up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

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