Rhymefest, “President Obama has to be Criticized.”

It’s been a while since fans have heard a major release from Chicago’s own Rhymefest. Although he’s pumped out two mixtapes for fans (including the recently released Dangerous: 5-18), the masses wondered what happened to the promising MC that was so dope that even Kanye West co-signed.

After a much-needed label change, Rhymefest has re-emerged to deliver the album that almost turned into an urban legend, El Che. Along with his re-emergence, fans will notice a different sound from the Chicago native. Despite the fact his debut album, Blue Collar, holstered multiple conscious tracks, including the follow-up to “Brand New,” “Dynomite (We Going Postal)” and he co-wrote kanye’s hit single “Jesus Walks;” many still viewed ’Fest as a class clown type of rapper. Well, Rhymefest recently sat down with XXLMag.com for some real talk about why President Obama should be criticized, Jay-Z’s alleged Illuminati ties, why people hate on Kanye, Tiger Woods, and a terrible disease that infected his family. Is yours next?

XXLMag.com: First question on everyone’s mind is where have you been?

Rhymefest: The funny thing is that I have been around, but I guess that’s the perks of being on a major label, being able to reach the masses because I have released mixtapes… A year before Michael Jackson died, I actually released a MJ mixtape to pay tribute to his music it was called Mark Ronson: Man in the Mirror; I also released the El Che Manual Mixtape last year to get fans ready for the actual album. So I have been here, it’s just that outside of my core audience people may not have been paying attention.

XXLMag.com: As an artist, what can you say is the difference lyrically between El Che and your last album Blue Collar?

Rhymefest: I think this album is a lot harder than Blue Collar, because as an artist I feel that I am deeper that the practical joker that I was made out to be on the previous label. I felt like they were trying to stick me in a box to where I couldn’t explore and show fans my conscious and lyrical side, which is wild because that’s who I am. One thing I know about the joker is that he is never looked at as the one who is taking the company to the next level and I definitely want to show people that I am more than the funny guy; so this album is way more of me than before.

XXLMag.com: Since you’re worldly, let’s step outside of the realm of music for a second. What’s your take on the way things are turning out with President Obama?

Rhymefest: Man, that’s a hard one. I think that President Obama has to be criticized, he has to be empathized with, protested against and he has to be voted for again, because we are his constituents and he owes us; but he only owes us what is on our agenda. Just like you have gays and lesbians fighting for equal rights and “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” we as African Americans need to present our own agenda; because bottom line if we don’t have an agenda, he ain’t moving. I think with electing Obama, we now have a uniform in the game; but we haven’t won the game, in fact we haven’t even started playing the game yet.

XXLMag.com: What do you think would be part of the “Black Agenda?”

Rhymefest: I definitely think employment and education, because we are the ones who are hit the hardest by the recession. I think that if we had more people rallying for it, it would become an agenda and [President Obama] would be moved. At the same time, I think that he should be criticized for that, because Obama’s not going to move, unless we move him and the problem with us is that we are so “black and white,” meaning that if we criticize him then people automatically assume that you are not a supporter. But people fail to realize that you can criticize and support him, it’s our job as a people to let him know how he is doing and where to improve, we can’t act like everything’s good and things are still the same. It’s crazy because we [as a people] have mastered the art of hip-hop, but have yet to master the art of lobbying.

XXLMag.com: Agreed, now the one thing that I can say about the election is that it did resuscitate the spirit of the politics within the community.

Rhymefest: True, but we can have a million Barak Obamas and it not mean anything if your local judge is locking everyone up, or you alderman is leasing out your community to major corporations. I think that we need to learn and study politics to truly be informed so that we can make educated decisions regarding who we want to represent us as a people, because the president is a good start but it is the office with the least effect.

XXLMag.com: What’s your opinion on the Jay-Z Illumati/Freemason conspiracy theories that people keep spreading?

Rhymefest: Honestly, I feel like who cares, go take care of your kids! [Laughs] I’m laughing, but really people need to concentrate on what’s in front of them because whether Jay-Z is or not; how does that affect you? I mean all the industry cares about is did you like the album or not? [Laughs] Really it’s all silly to me because I don’t attract that type of stuff around me.

XXLMag.com: With that being said, what is your take on the Tiger Woods situation and his comeback, because people were coming down on him pretty hard for a while?

Rhymefest: Who came down on him? [Laughs] Not anyone I knew, the people I knew were asking: Why wasn’t anyone that he messed with Black? But other than that, no one was tripping on the affairs. I have a question; why are we talking about these light skinned niggas? [Laughs] I mean we got indecisive ass Barak Obama and confused ass Tiger Woods, Shamar Moore ol’ gay ass, these light skinned niggas are fuckin’ the world up. [Laughs] Whatever happened to Wesley Snipes and Denzel Washington? I mean, damn, can Don Cheadle get some love up in this piece? [Laughs] I’m just kidding and for the record, I don’t know if Shamar is gay, I don’t need a thousand women trying to kill me for talking bad about their man. [Laughs].

XXLMag.com: But Cheadle and Wesley got some shine in Brooklyn’s Finest.

Rhymefest: Man, they even tried to make that look cheap. It looked like a hood movie. Real talk, I didn’t even know who was in it that movie it was so dark. How you going to have dark niggas on dark film; I mean what was they trying to do? The funny thing is that if Don Cheadle wasn’t in that movie, people probably wouldn’t have gone to see it because they would’ve figured Wesley was playing Nino Brown again [Laughs]

XXLMag.com: It kind of came off like a remake of New Jack City.

Rhymefest: It was a remake of New Jack City, mixed with Training Day and Harlem Nights. [Laughs] Be sure to keep all of this in the interview, too, because this is hip-hop and it’s time that we color outside of the lines. We need to be more well rounded; I’m tired of these one-track niggas. Start asking these dumb rappers about the stimulus package and watch them niggas freeze up.

XXLMag.com: How do you feel about the way Kanye was being dogged in the media?

Rhymefest: The crazy thing is people hate you, then when you put another album out they like you again. I think that we as a people are so force-fed by corporations that we don’t know what we want. Yeah, people were mad at Kanye last year, but they’re also looking forward to him putting another album out. Soon as the album drops they are going to forget why they were mad in the first place. I think people love Kanye because he speaks his mind and there ain’t that many Black men that do that and why we are on it, niggas need to stop fronting like that White girl deserved that award. They knew what he was saying and need to cut it out, for real.

XXLMag.com: Random thought, do you miss Dave Chappelle?

Rhymefest: No, but I admire him. I think that he is one Black man that won and knew it. That is the problem with Black people; we don’t know when we’ve won. Look at Tiger Woods, he had five White girls—he won, but he didn’t stop, he wanted 12 and look, nigga, you lost. [Laughs] So we need to learn to quit when we’re ahead and stop being extra.

XXLMag.com: How do we as a people stop that?

Rhymefest: Honestly, I think that we as a people need to band together and start working together instead of arguing about who has it harder and admiring ignorance because people are sitting back laughing at us, talking about, “Look at them niggas and their Brooklyn’s Finest movie.” [Laughs] But seriously, I think we need to get a hold of this ignorance thing, because I was done when I saw the “Stanky Leg” touch my family, but even sadder than that is when your favorite rapper try to dumb down to reach the kids. Can you imagine Ice Cube leaning and rocking with it, talking about he’s trying to make a comeback? [Laughs] I would be devastated, which is why we need to stop it before it touches someone that is close to you, don’t let the “Stanky Leg” infect your family. [Laughs]. —Tiffany Hamilton

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  • HU

    I’m copping El Che first thing May 18. Anyway, the Stanky leg and ignorance comment is dead on. The dudes who are about to post underneath me have sagging jeans, tattoos all over their necks, and talk like they have cerebral palsy. “Aye dawg yoosa mufuckin hata dawg, ya feel me nicca. Stanky niggaz be gettin money”. “I’ll clap yo ass, no homo” What they don’t realize is they’re being laughed at by blacks and whites alike but in their mind they look like some kind of hard rapper or something.

  • b-dogg

    huge co-sign HU… tired of generic ass music filled with no real content… sorry ya’ll no leanin and rockin or partyin like a rockstar. My daughter told me once to do the “Stanky leg” i told her i would rather do the Kurt Cobain

    • http://windowshop78.blogspot.com Ninjagaiden78

      Wow, shout out to B-dogg and HU. As in the words of the great Nasir Jones we need to “Rise above this madness.” I have been listening to hiphop for 20 + years and although there have been past Stanky Legs (anybody remember “Daisy Dukes?” There were TWO versions of that song), it seems as if we are reveling in ignorance for a little too long.

      B-Dogg, loved the Kurt Cobain comment. I bet that flew over cats heads.


  • Ignant Nig

    Haven’t really been listenin to Fes music, but i kno he can be a dope artist. But how can he diss the stanky leg, I mean, its the dance of today. I sure don’t do it, but what if ppl saw the casper slide, or the hustle, n was like “wtf???”

    N to HU what does ppl havin tattoos all over thier neck have to do with anything. I kno ppl wit law degrees that are tatted up. Don’t judge ppl on how they look, but how they act.

  • lawlz

    i agree with Ignant Nig. He’s saying some wise stuff.

  • b-dogg

    -ingant nig— “the dance of today” really??? and i think the tats on the neck thing is just way too typical… oh yeah, i judge.


    First off rhymefest did preach about the right things, but to me he didn’t hit the nail on the head. Yes I agree we do need 2 critize obama and don’t need 2 critize him. We need to critize him for one because the man is coming on his third year and yet us working lower and middle class ppl are STILL feeling a recession.

    Just because our favorite rappers and entertainers ACT like there “Balling” doesnt mean all of them are. Also that doesn’t mean that us “No ones” who are trying to be “Some ones” shouldn’t pretend were “balling” as well. What I dont agree with, with the homie fest is him saying “we as African Americans need to present our own agenda; because bottom line if we don’t have an agenda, he ain’t moving.” Yes this is true but I think especially nowadays we as a PEOPLE need to get over the fact about black and white. I kno most of u on here r gonna hate, but think about it yes there is STILL racism in America and the world but we have a BLACK president times have changed ALOT from the 50′s-60′s.

    I will b the first to say it, ppl down south need to get a reality check obviously thats where most of hate crimes and racism still exists. We all need to wake up seriously because sooner than later its NOT gonna b about black or white its gonna b are u poor?? ok u go in this line….are u rich??…yes over here please. We are at WAR ppl wake up!! its not about we need jobs and oppurtunity (even though I want all that) but in politics its all about power and strategy knocking off us poor and weak.

    So for u I leave this, be smart, THINK use ur head and don’t let nobody stop u from pursing ur dreams and goals fuck these industry puppeteers!! WE ARE NOT PUPPETS, WE ARE HUMANS!!……p.s. fuck u if ur a hater and have nothin good 2 say about this I like ppl debating but just being ignorant is exactly what it is…..-ALLLLLLLL DAAAY!!

    • The Unknown

      DJ ALL DAY says:
      “We need to critize him for one because the man is coming on his third year and yet us working lower and middle class ppl are STILL feeling a recession.”

      You can’t spend 8 years raping and abusing government funds and causing trillions of dollars of debt and expect just 2 1/2 years to clean it up. That just doesn’t make sense.

    • The Unknown

      DJ ALL DAY says:
      “We need to critize him for one because the man is coming on his third year and yet us working lower and middle class ppl are STILL feeling a recession.”

      You can’t spend 8 years raping and abusing government funds and causing trillions of dollars of debt and expect just 2 1/2 years to clean it up. That just doesn’t make sense.

  • HU

    Law degrees from where, FAMU? I happen to be in law school and yeah, two dudes have tattoos on their arms but to get one on your neck means you’re a piece of shit and know it. It’s basically saying “I give up in the game of life”. Music stars might do it but that’s because looking ridiculous is a way to stand out and get publicity, thus more money. For a regular person to follow that is stupid and a way to ensure you never have a job or basic respect. Cop El Che!!

  • epinz

    im wit ignant on this one. i like rhymefest,shit,anybody who does music with litte brother is fine with me. but the youth is the youth.the stanky leg is only bad cuz theres no balance. theres nuthin opposite that the youth r doin that aposses that. and tattos aint got shit to do with nuthin unless its ignorant type shit. tattoos aint a ignorant black thing. its been around centeries b4 “blacks” started using them. its just that ignorant nggz put ignorant shit on themselves. i do agree that its fuckin retarted to put visible tats on urslef if u plan on succeeding in the real world. nobodys gunna take u serious with a fuckin tear drop on ur face or ur babymommas name across ur neck.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    1st. Rhymefest did say alot of good thing. the most imporant one was the black agenda. Something has to be done. No, the answer wouldn’t be as simple as pulling up your pants, removing enhanced art, or changing your dance. Nah, we have have to take a stance. In fact, tats, saggig pants, and dancing serves a purpose in certain places. Rhymefest didn’t say much about this, but HU did. I mean, if you got something to say, you might as well do something. What programs are you running? who are you mentoring? I am also a highly educated hip hop fan. I will never turn my back on the youth. Expression is just as imporant. The problem is they aren’t educated enough to know the limits. Rhymefest made another good point. You have to know when you have won and when you should stop. Hip hop as a buisness is doing well. The art is suffering. The people always got mistreated. This is the time where we have to all come together.

  • smojo

    thank you all day, couldn’t of said it better. yes, in order to survive in the world today you have to profit money. that’s all there is to it. but people don’t see that once you start chasing, you’re enslaved to it. once you clock in for whatever job you do for whatever corporation, you’re enslaved to it.
    people work blood sweat and tears their whole lives for a goddamn dollar, when these rich politicians in office, just so happen to want the same things as the poorer do, and the same kind of change ? what change means to them is equality, therefore it would sacrifice their power over the rest of the world. it wouldn’t make sense for them to. people need to start thinking outside the box, and start looking at the root causes of the problems we have. not patchwork with laws and fucking police officers…

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    Good comments people.

  • Brass Tacks

    Excellent post! “Start asking these dumb rappers about the stimulus package and watch them niggas freeze up”. RFest giving us the news!

    (no Stephen Glass.)

  • wonder why

    Yea being president does not mean you have all the power in the world there is a system he has to abide by. Also, yes, racism still exists but what is with the preconception that all racists are white and that black people are not racist, or pretty much act as though they do not possess the ability to be racist because they are black. I do agree with Rhymefest but I also disagree, but that is how people are, and so it should not justify people to “hate” on others opinions.

  • Money Mitch

    I think fest is a dope rapper and a start man but i think he places too much emphasis on race I honestly think dude is straight racist.

  • http://XXLmag.com Leroy Love

    @HU….Hey, FAMU had a law school before Florida State did, before the white man shut it down.Now we got a new law school many years later and making progress, and personally I think tattoos are for negroes with that sheep mnentality…monkey see..monkey do….

  • Will

    I only got two beefs wit the dance shit. I feel like if you’re in an over 21 club, ain’t no place for the stanky leg. Two, I ain’t tryna see no damn mother of three entering the booty pop contest at a damn show. Other than that, if you at a cookout and the lil kids wanna stanky leg or dougie, hell let em.

  • gift

    this has been one of the reallest interviews i’ve read on this site.

  • http://www.mikestreezy.com Mike Streezy

    My grandma does the stanky leg. Just sayin….
    Click my name.

  • datdude

    Wow dope interview. I like this dude even more now! Can’t wait for the album Fest!

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