Chicago-bred MC Rhymefest is one of the industrys, 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 Kanyes
Grammy-winning Jesus Walks. Now, Fest is ready to show the world the total
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
AllHipHop.com: So tell us whats going on with The Manual mixtape?
know whats 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 todays 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
hes like, Man why arent 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 Im 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
Chicago Tribune even said it should be a Grammy.
should have been! More so than Blue
Collar, I would say The Man in the Mirror
didnt 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? Its wrong. Its blatant
disregard for Hip-Hop and its a blatant disregard for whats good and its blatant
AllHipHop: Do you
think theyll come around this time around?
dont know. I dont 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 didnt get it, didnt listen to it, or didnt hail it for what it is.
Its their fault not mine.
But back to The Manual,
Im trying to figure out if I want to give it away now. Because
its 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 Im morphing into all of these super heroes like Iceman,
the Torch, Wolverine, Black Panther. You want to hear the rap?
is the verse to my verse to my first single Chicago that Im 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 youre 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 dont wear Ice Cream. I aint dissin Pharrell but lets be for real, some of yall is gay as hell. Hell boys, little boy you like elroy, youre more like the child on (inaudible). Half Black Panther, arm and hammer you missed your favorite moment like Obamas grandma. (inaudible) Im armed with grammar, youll get arrested f**k reading (inaudible) Im from
fire, but I dont think Pharrell will like it.
thing is this. I dont 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 didnt 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 thats what El
Che is about. Thats what The Manual
is about. I dont 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. Im looking at like whos hot in the streets. Im looking at
it, whos hot to me. The Manual is
going to come out two weeks after Chicago drops which will be this
week. Its gonna be nuts.
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 didnt
respond. His response was, Im gonna show him, Im gonna release three
mixtapes that sell in the same week (laughs). Like that was his response. But
were gonna see what is more important: quantity or quality?
People know it. When Rhymefest come around, people get
excited and happy and they know its
the best show in town. And they know when songs like Exodus come out, its
some real s**t and when I walk in the room, people straighten up and get off
their bulls**t because Im about to call them out. The magic is there. What Im
saying in regards to Chuck (sighs). Theres a certain piece of magic thats
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?
all of the above. But Im not really offended. Offended means Im emotional
about it to a certain extent. It wasnt emotional as it is, oh this is Hip-Hop.
And in Hip-Hop, I cant allow you to think that you can aggress me. I cant
allow you to think Im not who I am. He could say, Okay Im gonna
try to battle Rhymefest, and bring out the YouTube
cameras and then try to get a YouTube moment. And then when it dont 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, whats your response? Now Im on the phone. I said, You called me
Charles, what are you talking about whats 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 dont want to take it to the streets.
Thats when I lost my cool. Thats when I said, Motherf**ker, I will break every
bone in your body. Then there was six seconds of silence. Thats 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 dont have anything
against that guy. Chuck is okay, hes trying to do his
thing. I was just saying, just have a little respect. Dont think because
somebody at 28 and you 21 that you are faster and better in every way and
everybodys gonna love you because you got the Andy Milonakis disease. I was
just playing, I wasnt even for real with Supersonic. I was just f**kin
around. Hes not equipped to respond. So its like, hopefully hopefully he
learned from this. Hell keep his head straight and release some quality music.
can fans expect from your upcoming album El
can expect that I took great care with this album. There is something special
with each song, so its not like, Song number three, lets get to song number
four. Like these songs werent 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.
there a theme?
theme of El Che is freedom. The
freedom to express yourself without sounding like everyone else. That is what El Che is about. Its about truth,
entertainment, dope ass lyrics and heart. And to me thats revolution.
you think youve grown since Blue Collar?
dont know what do you think?
on those verses, it seems like it. I think you are addressing where Hip-Hop is
at right now.
what it can be. Im not just complaining like, Yo, its
f**ked up, everybodys wack. Im giving examples on
how Hip-Hop can be better. Im being the example of better Hip-Hop. Like if you
dis me twice, Im bout to a leak a dis song and guess what, my dis song aint
gonna be about how Im gonna beat you up and pull a gun on you. My dis song is
going to be really creative. You know what Im saying? Or, alright
now Im about to drop a mix CD and Im about to tell a kid, Alright heres an
artist that you havent heard from in a long time, but still can rhyme.
Now Im about to drop El Che. Like Im out here doing exactly
what it is Im saying needs to be done. Not just saying that it needs to be
done. Thats 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.
Kanye do tracks with you for El Che?
hasnt done any tracks, although he texted me this morning and was like, Whats
up. The albums coming up, I havent heard it, I havent done any beats for it,
Im recording everything, you a fool, Im Kanye West fool! (laughs). I think
Im gonna go find him.
both you and Kanye were influential figures in each others
careers. Where do you guys stand right now?
know, its so funny. People will be like, Kanyes 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 its never been about, for me at least, its never
been about me, Kanye and Hip-Hop. I dont use him. I dont exploit him. If we
work together out of our friendship, thats great. If we dont, hes 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 dont want anything from Kanye. All I want
from him, is continued brotherhood. The ill thing about it is hell say
something like, But Im here for you, so why dont you use me, because thats
what Im here for. But I just dont want to be that guy. I dont want him to
look back and say, Damn that brother is just trying to give me up, and I dont
want to be a part of that. But hell say its my pride. Maybe it is my pride,
but then again, I dont want to be one of them kind of people.
much longer do you see yourself in the game? Whats the short term and long
term goals for you?
a good question, I dont 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, Im gonna keep putting it out. As long as people
keep responding to it, Im gonna keep doing it. When theres nothing left for
me to say, Ill shut the f**k up.