Do Remember: Rhymefest’s This Is How We Chill (Audio)
Early this week, Rhymefest joined Eminem and Common (simultaneously) at becoming one of three Hip-Hop artists to have won a Grammy Award and an Oscar Award. The Chicago, Illinois MC and former J Records sensation co-wrote “Glory,” joining John Legend and Comm’ in the Academy Award receipt.
In both cases, Rhymefest played a background role, having won his Grammy for Kanye West’s 2004 single, “Jesus Walks.” A co-writer/creator of the song and sample, ‘Fest was initially a guest on the demo version of the song (with Miri Ben-Ari) before being cut (reportedly at the label’s suggestion) for The College Dropout.
Awards in tow, Rhymefest has maintained and carved a strong career in the decade since. With two studio albums, 2006’s Blue Collar and 2010’s El Che, which featured a litany of artists, ranging from Kanye to Little Brother to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Additionally, the MC has worked outside of albums with artists ranging from Lil Jon to PackFM, Sadat X to Dr. Cornel West.
The journey to Oscar (and Grammy) gold has hardly been a straight shot, or traditional rise. The MC with the melodic voice goes back nearly 20 years, to the underground 12″ record days. That’s exactly where the journey began, in 1996.
Throughout his career, Rhymefest has maintained ties to Molemen. The Chicago production outfit including Panik (f/k/a His-Panik), Memo, and PNS is forever associated with Capital D, All Natural, and other luminaries from the Windy City, in addition to work with Kool G Rap, Saigon, Slug, and Jedi Mind Tricks. Molemen (as a unit) was behind the boards on ‘Fest’s 1996 first single, “This Is How We Chill.”
The song plays as a who’s who of the city—shouting out the other rappers on the scene, from Psychodrama to Rubberoom, to Ang-13, to Bomb The Suburbs author William “Upski” Wimsatt, to his award/founder partner, Common Sense. The track, Jazz-accented and simple, lets the rapping shine.
Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, the underground anthem would re-appear on Molemen compilations, clearly a breakthrough track for the MC and producers. Showing the unity in the city, it is simple, effective, and very much in the style heard in the mainstream at the time thanks to Common’s Resurrection and One Day It’ll All Make Sense. Would the 20 year-old talkin’ on wax ever imagine what his awards shelves at home would one day look like, beyond his impressive political forays?
Do remember: “This Is How We Chill,” a great reminder that it all starts somewhere (and still sounds great as much)
#BonusBeat: You cannot ignore/forget “This Is How We Chill, Part 2” featuring freestyle icon J.U.I.C.E., also orchestrated by Molemen: