Rhymefest is getting a heavy career jump-start. The recent turmoil of whether he wrote all, some, or none of Kanye West's ‘Jesus Walks’ has overshadowed Rhymfest’s stellar bootleg mix, Blue Collar, and his heavy appearances on albums from Old Dirty and Mark Ronson.
But there’s a reason Rhymefest is in the media blitz. He’s on the fringe of being the hottest new artist, and nobody’s ‘alter boy.’ ‘Fest has unabashedly made his own decisions for a rougher or easier road, depending on how you look at it. Peep game as radio/ television personality Miss Info and Rhymefest talk Kanye controversy, talk rationality, and talk album. Before the Grammy’s might unveil the Chicago beast, AllHipHop gets cozy with the musical amalgam.
AllHipHop.com: So you’re at the halfway point of recording your album?
Rhymefest: Yeah we’re halfway, like we’re taking the album through different segments. The first part of the album is me and Mark. Me and Mark got like a real vibe. When I was first looking to do some type of record signed with somebody, I was offered two contracts – one by Kanye and one by Mark. But Mark and I had did some music together, and I liked the way he incorporated Rock and Rap and mixed different genres of music and I realized that I rap like that. So him and I – I mean the chemistry was wonderful. So I signed with Mark Ronson. Plus I didn’t want to sign under another rapper.
AllHipHop.com: That’s interesting ‘cause I would’ve assumed that you would go with Kanye just given y’all’s relationship.
Rhymefest: See that’s what everybody assumes. But like, my thing is that if we got a good relationship, if I signed under him, that might make it worse and then two, it’s like everybody always wanna do the obvious ‘cause they think somebody else control they destiny or control they career. Like Kanye was gonna be big and I knew it, and I knew he was gonna be explosive, so if he’s gonna be explosive, what was I gonna be if I sign with him?
AllHipHop.com: You feel that you would be less than explosive?
Rhymefest: I fell like I would be explosive, but I would be a shadow of him. But that’s not because I would be any less, it would be because how people would view it. [Plus], at the end of the day, Mark Ronson and I had more musical chemistry.
AllHipHop.com: So let me get into the heart of the matter – 'Jesus Walks,' the Grammy’s are coming up, you’re credited as a co-writer – he has definitely mentioned that you’re the co-writer, it’s not a secret.
AllHipHop.com: But what exactly does that mean? What part of the song did you write?
Rhymefest: I don’t, like – I don’t wanna – ‘cause I feel like there’s a way to separate and degrade, like saying that, ‘Yo what did you write? What did you bring to the table?’ I look at it like this: him and I both collaborated. I’ll tell you for a fact, if it wasn’t for me, there wouldn’t have been no ‘Jesus Walks’ but if it wasn’t for Kanye, there wouldn’t have been no ‘Jesus Walks’. We both contributed a major part to the song – to a beautiful song. I look at it like this: I was a part of that vehicle – God blessed me to be a part of the vehicle to bring that song to the table, but Kanye was the driver of the vehicle.
AllHipHop.com: Did you let him drive the car? Was it a car that you bought and you let him drive it?
Rhymefest: It’s a car that, umm, I would say that, he had more money than me and I came to him like, ‘Yo, you see that car over there, if you buy that, woah!’ And he’s like, ‘I got the money.’ He knew how to pimp the ride out. See, I don’t think I would’ve been able to pimp the ride out like he pimped the ride out.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, so let’s just be specific. The word is is that you came up with the concept of the song – you brought him the song to sample – and then you came up with the hook and then you wrote the first verse.
Rhymefest: I wouldn’t say that. Alright, I’ll be specific. I helped him with the chorus –we collaborated on the chorus, and we collaborated on the first verse and I brought the sample to him. Originally it was something that I wanted for something that I was doing for my album, but at the time he had a record deal, I didn’t. He asked me, ‘Yo can I put this on my album?’ and I was like, ‘Hell yeah’, ‘cause that was an opportunity for me.
AllHipHop.com: So, now that leads me to the other question: do you feel that you’ve gotten everything that you deserve from this song?
Rhymefest: I don’t think it’s over yet, so I don’t know, you would have to ask me like three years from now, when all the royalties statements is in, after the Grammy’s is over. I would hope that if it’s chosen for song of the year and he performs it, that he would show love and bring me on stage to perform it with him to do that lost verse. It would help me with what I’m doing. And Kanye has shown me – with what I’m doing with my album – Kanye has in turn shown me support and been like – you know, ‘cause Kanye can charge whatever he want for a beat – and been like, ‘Whatever you need my man, you got it.’ Now that’s friendship.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think that you’re taking a harder road? Do you think that you’re playing yourself by doing that,’ because you would get so much bigger so much faster with Kanye?
Rhymefest: Am I Jaz-Oing myself? Am I Royce 5’9”ing myself? Don’t get it twisted, I love them dudes. But that’s what you’re saying, like these are guys – like Royce 5’9” could’ve went with Em but he didn’t, he went another route, Jaz-O could’ve tried to stick with Jay, but he didn’t, he went another route. I look at it like this, Kanye was upset a little bit with me because I didn’t sign his contract. And I don’t know if it hurt our friendship or what at the time. Since Kanye has heard what I’ve been doing with Mark Ronson, he’s like, ‘Yo, I think you did the right thing.’
AllHipHop.com: What was his reasoning?
Rhymefest: Because he heard the music that me and Mark was making and he said, ‘It sounds like you; it sounds like you.’ I mean, I remember – man, I’mma tell you a story that I ain’t told nobody. When they was doing the video for ‘Jesus Walks’, Kanye, me, and him raced up to the top of the mountain, you know the mountain where the cross falls with the fire? Him and I raced up to the top of the mountain and Kanye sat with me, he said, ‘Man, you know what I want to do right now? We need to pray.’ And he prayed and he thanked God for bringing me into his life and bringing ‘Jesus Walks’, the song, into his life – pause, not trying to sound gay. But like, just the whole opportunity that he had, he prayed, and you know what I saw? I saw a man that don’t answer to men, I saw a man that humbled himself before his creator. Regardless of any – and you can say what you want, but at that moment, at that moment, I saw it. It was no arrogance, all the ego, everything was gone. He was totally humble on the top of the mountain.
AllHipHop.com: Perfectly, even though you weren’t able to get a verse on any one of the three remixes?
Rhymefest: I thought about that. He did three remixes, I wasn’t on one. But I also look at it like Kanye can charge whatever he want to charge for a beat, and I’m getting a super friendship, you know what I’m saying? And he giving me choruses. We did this joint [where] I wrote his verse and he wrote my verse. But the verse he wrote for me is kinda ill, he was saying something like – he ain’t really wrote it all out yet – he say, “Man, why Kanye got a house and you in that?/ Why Kanye got a Benz and he make you hit that?/ Didn’t you do half of ‘Jesus Walks’?….” Like, he’s broaching that subject!
AllHipHop.com: Wow, what’s the song called?
Rhymefest: It’s called ‘I Ain’t Write This.’ It’s gonna be for my album on J [Records]. That’s what kind of friends we are. And to be friends like that, I can’t sign no contract with that dude. So, let me ask you a question, when you hear me rap do you think that me and Kanye rap alike?
Rhymefest: Interesting isn’t it? Same humor, same all that s**t. I’m just trying to figure out what I’m gon’ do, you know what I’m saying? We crew, that’s what happens.
AllHipHop.com: Well how come he didn’t just get you situated somewhere else back before he had his thing?
Rhymefest: He couldn’t. Kanye used to come up with me to record label meetings. After he made ‘H to the Izzo’, he did Blueprint, I’d be like, ‘Kanye, come with me to the A&R office.’ And he used to come with me and co-sign for me.
AllHipHop.com: And it didn’t work?
Rhymefest: And it didn’t work. And they was like, ‘This dude?’
AllHipHop.com: And how would you define what y’all do? Because everybody always feels like they reinventing the wheel, so how do you feel that you do?
Rhymefest: I feel like what I do – ‘cause Kanye doesn’t do this – I talk about the everyday man, everyday struggle of life. This is like everyday struggle, I’m constantly dealing with the balance of good and evil and I know that – this is between me and you – if I do it too much I’ll be Talib Kewli, everybody’ll be like, ‘Aw, that’s just the dude up the block, ain’t nothing’ super amazing about him.’ But then I can’t got to the 50 Cent extreme because then it’s like, ‘That n*gga ain’t gangsta.’ So, what I have to do is keep it very rhythmic, keep it very, no matter what I’m saying, no matter how good lyrically it is, it rides in the beat well, the story is good, the chorus is hooky and catchy, it’s really musical.