Rhymefest Details Third Album & Updates On Reconnecting With His Father
One year ago, Chicago, Illinois MC/writer/politician Rhymefest began screening documentary film In My Father’s House. The work looked at Che Smith’s father, who was estranged for much of the artist’s life due to homelessness and alcoholism. In the film, the Grammy Award-winning artist (who, since filming, has added an Oscar and Golden Globe to his resume) reconnects with his father, and buys the man’s childhood home as a reclamation of history.
Speaking with Cuepoint, Rhymefest had an in-depth discussion about In My Father’s House, which is now available on DVD. Looking at the moments that the film covers, the former J Records artist and “Jesus Walks” co-writer declared, “I fear that if I hadn’t found [my father], that in six years he’d be dead. He was on his way out. [In] terms of shedding light on where he was or what happened, I just think that my father didn’t quite have the maturity and mental capacity at that time.” Rhymefest said that his experiences with one of his parents reflects a greater problem in the world. “Sometimes we don’t take into account as children — or as adults — that circumstances of life are not always like what you see on TV or a sitcom. He had the baby, but just couldn’t take care of one.”
Reflected in the title, the place where his dad called home stuck out to Rhymefest. Bringing the house back into the family was especially symbolic. “All my life, I lived in Chicago and would ride past his block and his home and think about the small amount of time that he spent there. Or I would think about my mother’s words, ‘Your father grew up there.’ There was always a connection to the house, even though I did not know much about it.” ‘Fest continued, “I wanted a piece of my heritage, I wanted a piece of my family history. I wanted to be able to give that to my children. I didn’t want to have to start all over again with a legacy.”
The film examines the Smith family healing through some pains in the past, and aiming to bring the family closer for future generations. Che said that his father and mother are currently living together in Indianapolis, Indiana. His father is off the streets entirely, and completely sober.
On the musical side, the interview delved into Rhymefest’s low-profile, but highly impactful career. “Last year I was nominated for ‘New Slaves,’ writing for Kanye [West]. This year I won a Grammy for writing with Common for ‘Glory.’ So I know how to write the music, the music isn’t the issue,” explained the veteran MC. “But I’m done with that part, hiding in the shadows of other artists and empowering people with platforms. I’m the one that lives in Chicago on the south side. I’m the one that works with the kids and the new generation. I’m the one that writes the songs that makes the world sing, so I’m going to be the one that sings them. So whatever happens, happens.”
The MC said that he is at work on his third studio album, and first since 2010’s El Che. This album will be called Push The World. “We’re bringing the best of the best together. We have a song called ‘Mastermind,’ with Common and [Reverend] Jesse Jackson on the same song, rapping. We have a joint with Mark Ronson, a joint with No I.D., I’m trying to get Killer Mike in the studio. Xzibit is actually in town shooting for Empire, so we’re going to get him in the studio.”