Che Smith (born July 6, 1977),[1] better known by his stage name Rhymefest, is an American rapper from Chicago whose first official album, Blue Collar, was released in 2006. His prominent songwriting credits include co-writing Kanye West's "Jesus Walks", which won Best Rap Song at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards, and "New Slaves", taken from West's sixth studio album Yeezus (2013).

Rhymefest in 2008
Rhymefest in 2008
Background information
Birth nameChe Smith
Born (1977-07-06) July 6, 1977 (age 45)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresHip hop
Years active1996–present
LabelsAllido, J, dNBe


Born in Chicago, Illinois,[1] Rhymefest started off battle rapping at events such as JumpOff and ScribbleJam against acts like Eminem and Chalk. Smith co-wrote "Glory" alongside John Legend and Common, for the 2014 motion picture Selma. The song received the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the 2014 Academy Award for Best Original Song.[2] Che has expanded his gifts beyond the borders of music. The subject of a Showtime and Break Thru Films documentary "In My Father's House", Rhymefest purchased the childhood home of his estranged Father only to find that he'd been homeless for most of Che's life, Rhymefest then embarks on a journey to reconnect and redeem their relationship. Rhymefest's film debut was in Emilio Estevez's 2018 film The Public. Fest played "Big George", starring alongside Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Taylor Shilling, Michael K. Williams, Christian Slater, and more.[3] Rhymefest has revealed that he will be releasing an album soon titled Love Lessons Pt. 1. The track "OG Philosophy" featuring Black Thought and Raheem DeVaughn was released in early 2020.[4]


In October 2010, Smith announced his candidacy for Chicago's 20th ward alderman.[5] He placed second in the February 22, 2011, election, and was defeated by incumbent Willie Cochran in the April 5, 2011, runoff election, getting 45.4% of the vote to Cochran's 54.6%.[6][7]

He hosted a "Truth & Reconciliation" event series to enhance awareness about gun violence in Chicago.[8]

Art of Culture (formerly Donda's House)Edit

Rhymefest is Executive Director and co-Founder of Donda's House, Inc., now renamed Art of Culture, Inc. The organization was originally named after Kanye West's mother Donda West. Artists who were accepted into Donda's House included Hex Hectic.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Rhymefest has three children. He is married to Heather Michele Smith. He is Muslim.[10]

Che Guevara namesakeEdit

Che Smith, named for the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, addressed the matter, stating:

"When you have a name, a real name, like Che, it's definitely something, whether you want to or not, something that you have to live up to. How could I be named Che and then do all songs about dancing in the club and who got the fattest ass? That would be an oxymoron to who I am. I think there's something very important in a name. So I think when we name ourselves and name our children, I think we have to think about what the future will look like. I named my son Solomon, and when people look at him they say, "Oh, Solomon, the wise king," and I think he's growing into that role. It's evident even in hip-hop. You see people who are Lil' this and Young that. What do they do? They act just like their name dictates."[11]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Grammy AwardsEdit

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 Jesus Walks (as songwriter) Song of the Year Nominated
Best Rap Song Won
2014 "New Slaves" (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Nominated
2016 Glory (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Nominated
Best Song Written for Visual Media Won




  • 1996: "This Is How We Chill (Pts. 1 & 2)"
  • 2005: "Dirty Dirty" (Featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard)
  • 2006: "Brand New" (featuring Kanye West) #38 Ireland, #32 UK
  • 2006: "Dynomite (Going Postal)"
  • 2006: "Fever"
  • 2006: "Wanted"
  • 2007: "Angry Black Man on the Elevator" (featuring Lil Jon)[12]
  • 2009: "Chicago"


  • 2004: Brand New
  • 2005: A Star Is Born, Vol. 1
  • 2006: Plugg City: City on My Back
  • 2008: Mark Ronson Presents: Man in the Mirror
  • 2009: El Che: The Manual Mixtape
  • 2010: Dangerous: 5-18
  • 2010: Man in the Mirror 2.0


  1. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Rhymefest Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  2. ^ "Paramount Pictures – Selma – Consider". Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Gardner, John (February 11, 2020). "Rhymefest: American Rapper, Writer, Community Organizer, and Explorer". The World Music Foundation Podcast. The World Music Foundation. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  4. ^ Gardner, John (February 11, 2020). "Rhymefest: American Rapper, Writer, Community Organizer, and Explorer". The World Music Foundation Podcast. The World Music Foundation. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  5. ^ "Political Rapper Gets More Literal About It". Chicago Reader. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  6. ^ "BLOG". Archived from the original on October 22, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  7. ^ "'Rhymefest' Smith loses in bid for alderman". Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  8. ^ Walker, Angus (October 9, 2016). "Rhymefest hosts Truth & Reconciliation event series". Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  9. ^ Reles, Marilyn (April 23, 2020). "Chicago's Hex Hectic Releases New Single Alongside Comic Book Series". The Hype Magazine. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  10. ^ "RHYMEFEST On Prosperity Gospel, Authentic Christianity, and Joel Osteen (pt. 1 of 2)". August 23, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  11. ^ Rhymefest: El Che by Chris Dart, Exclaim! Magazine, June 2010 Issue
  12. ^ "Audio: Rhymefest f. Lil Jon, "Angry Black Man On The Elevator"". Retrieved August 15, 2015.

External linksEdit