Rhymefest: The Everyday Low Price of Economic Freedom

“Now, I’m not one to judge a person’s political, religious or [even] artistic views; however, the reasons that this artist gave were so fucking erroneous and outrageous that it compels me to speak out, even if only to give fans the right information so that we are not following uninformed-ass rappers down the hole of ‘abstract nothingness.’

Rhymefest, MySpace blog (complete with “Intellectuals Only” warning)

I thought Rhymefest was supposed to be one of the smart ones. The way some of the writers at Okayplayer bump him, I thought he was Frederick fuckin Douglass. Then again, that great bastion of truer-than-true hip-hop and allied enlightened music gave Solange a blog soooo… I guess I can’t really call it, can I?

Fest, who ironically enough refers to himself as El Che, offered the above preamble as part of a nasty little quasi-intellectual spat with Lupe Fiasco, who I hear is still holding down the “Low Kick” button to charge up his bicycle kick for Byron Crawford. As both “conscious rappers” have exhibited, not every nigga who owns a Che Guevara t-shirt or sips a delicious Dwele-flavored McCafe is a revolutionary.

“Abstract nothingness”, you say? Put a pin in that. We’ll come back to it.

Rhymefest’s most recent form of political involvement involves an ongoing protest intent on creating jobs in a low-income (pronounced: “black”) neighborhood in Chicago. To counteract what he considers the ill effects of the current repression (recession + depression), Rhymefest lobbies Chicago’s City Hall to bring a Wal-Mart to the community.

“Mm-MMMM. These everyday low prices show-liz the key to social and economic justice! Daquan, get me two more of them 5 gallon Poppin’ Pink Lemonades!”

-Anonymous black mother

Do you know what Che Guevara would do if Wal-Mart came within stolen military jeep distance of his hood? The nigga would toss Molotov cocktails through the store windows every morning until he and his merry men could make communal use of the imperialist ashes.

What person with a 100-level sociology or economics education looks at an impoverished community and decides begs for Wal-Mart? That’s like walking around doused in kerosene and begging for someone to toss you a lit match. Rhymefest is focusing on 300 to 500 minimum wage jobs that may not all go to the members of the community in question.

Worse still, Wal-Mart is like a stage 4 malignant brain tumor for the small business network in a community. Every local small business owner and employee will end up assed the fuck out with little recourse except, maybe filling out a Wal-Mart application.

Hitting the ho stroll sounds like progress and economic empowerment to me.

This scenario reminds me of when simple house niggas like Magic Johnson tried to feed Harlem residents a bunch of bullshit about this mass economic development initiative called the “Empowerment Zone”. Basically, the Empowerment Zone was a group of corporations like Starbucks, Loew’s, Gap Inc. and Disney sounding the trumpets of colonialism. They no longer feared the heart of darkness. Late 90s Harlem was safe enough to open up shop without fear of busted out windows and stolen goods in the cover of night.

Okay, I wouldn’t go that far. They still had to fuck with the pull-down gates after closing. This is a Martin Luther King, jr. Boulevard we’re talking about after all. It even intersects with a Malcolm X. Wowsers!

The only benefit I could derive from the same minimum wage jobs we always had being a little closer was how much we could save in subway tokens. Otherwise, all that shit was gonna do was increase value of properties we didn’t own.

Lo and behold, ten years later, Harlem residents have become Alabama residents.

All Wal-Mart has ever done for an impoverished community is assure a life of virtually inescapable poverty line slavery. As for me, majority time I’m trynna stay above the poverty line. That’s a major part of my grind. The key operative, of course, being “above”.

Granted, I’d just come from Wal-Mart like 15 minutes before seeing this video, but I’m sayin. You boycott 90-cent dental floss then, Huey Freeman. I’m just a victim of contemporary economic slavery who knows better than to think my patronage helped anyone in or close to my situation.

On the other hand, “abstract nothingness” bangs pots and pans in the streets and draws attention to itself without understanding why.

Questions? Comments? Requests? I’ll boycott Wal-Mart if you do? ron@ronmexicocity.com

This nigga must have an everyday low-price CD deal at Wal-Mart or some shit.

  • Around and Around

    I think Che is holding down that Low Kick button for 99% of these coffee shop revolutionaries wearing his shirt…bought at Urban Outfitters and made in China by a 3 year old.

    • OG Matt Herbz

      I like being called out on that shit, too:

      “Do you even know his name?”

      –”Yeah, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara”

      “Well, you know he murdered lots of innocent people?”

      –”Yes, I do. His ideals were worth killing for, however. Haven’t you ever wanted to kill someone in government…don’t you wish to kill George W. Bush?”

      “Well, Cuba’s a lot better now since the revolution, huh?”

      –”Cuba is a poor country because of U.S. economic sanctions against them. The U.S. is butthurt that the Cuban government wanted to nationalize the industries that produce and maintain the natural resources of the land–The U.S. corporations wanted to control them. Supposedly, they don’t want to support a communist government, but they have and will support uprisings in other 3rd World countries by funding revolutionaries in South America.”

      “Oh, okay…enjoy you latte!”

      –”Thanks!”

      –OG Matt Herbz–

      • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

        HAHAHAHAHA That’s excellent – like a documentary.

        You forgot to mention that they’re listening to Ani Difranco and eating scones!

      • Superstar Extraordinaire

        damn OG Herbz….kudos, I’ve never met someone that knows as much about Che as myself….you’re legite dog…

  • Moving Sideways

    Another one of the fun things that Wal-Mart and their brethren like to pull is when a store is no longer ‘economically viable’ they just pull up stakes and skip town. Then the city and the neighborhood specifically is left holding the bag of a gigantic warehouse with tons of parking that can’t really be used for anything else of value in the community.

    I, however, am a solutions man. What Rhymefest/Lupe/other Chi-town rapsters should do (if they are really that concerned with helping out) is front capital for the start up an employee-owned general market in that neighborhood. Keep management and jobs in their neighborhood, and not pay some fat, white dude from Arkansas to destroy your neighborhood.

    • $ykotic

      “front capital for the start up an employee-owned general market in that neighborhood.”

      Kinda like what Derrick Coleman is doing in Detroit.

    • Around and Around

      “I, however, am a solutions man. What Rhymefest/Lupe/other Chi-town rapsters should do (if they are really that concerned with helping out) is front capital for the start up an employee-owned general market”

      -You may be a solutions man, but you def are not a business man, sounds like the dumbest fucking business plan I ever heard.

      Unless you make that a fox reality show.

      • Moving Sideways

        Dumbest fucking business plan? Really? How so?

        What would you propose as an alternative?

  • Parsifal

    I’m not one to judge a person’s artistic views”
    Rhymefest

    This is a blatent lie three years ago I beated this guy thorugh Myspace email becuse I said I mentioned his name in conection 50cent. He estentally said dont ever mention my name in conection with50and ifyou ahvent bought my album yet your not “real” Rhymefest is a bitter man who isnt willing to let others eat in there own lane (i.e. Rick Ross, The Clipse, and Plies) becuse he has this old school head whoi has this sepia toned view of the olds chool I mean come on Kool G. Rap, Rakim, K.R.S. One’s Criminal Minded. But the fact that he is now trying to drop a Walmart in the hood isjust wrong it’s an albatros point blank.

  • $ykotic

    Wow.

    I don’t even mess with Wal-Mart. I stay getting my stuff from the Dollar Tree.

    Didn’t Wal-mart just lose a class action suit for slaving their employees?

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      Word…

      We study Wal-Mart in school and they’re basically considered the evil empire of corporations. It’s like the devil boss of the bosses. No inner-city should have a Wal-Mart. There’s one in South Philly near the stadiums and I nearly puke when I drive by it…

  • giantstepp

    “Worse still, Wal-Mart is like a stage 4 malignant brain tumor for the small business network in a community. Every local small business owner and employee will end up assed the fuck out with little recourse except, maybe filling out a Wal-Mart application.”

    Thats real shit Mex! Once the that network is gone, it never ever comes back and the spirit of community disappears with it.

  • Mauckjw

    Your piece is total bs, Ron. Come to the South or Westside of Chicago and tell the people they shouldn’t have jobs or cheap goods. The choice isn’t between competing minimum wage jobs. It’s between working at Wal-Mart and not having any work at all. Also the small business trope is garbage when the only small businesses around are coin-op laundry mats, corner stores owned by Asians and barber shops. Granted the whole “El Che” stuff is a glaring contradiction but that isn’t a comment on Wal-Mart. These communities have wallowed in poverty for several decades so to preemptively blame Wal-Mart is beyond stupid.

  • Trin

    Yall should all watch the Penn and Tell bullshit episode on walmart. to really understand. Walmart doesnt pay min wage they pay higher and they also offer benifits. walmarts only kill local business is because prices. the biz cant compeat. however in this day who can really afford not to save money. im sorry i shop at walmart and know ppl who worked there and made decent doe considering its a STORE. No store really PAYS so that argument is null. I you can employ 300-500 ppl in your city opening the store why not face it the days when you bought every thing in town are dying and with or without a walmart the stores every one wanna “save” are gonna dissapear. Its sad but tru.

    Now dont get me wrong walmart does its dirt BUT its a new job oppertunity for ppl who are in need of one.

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

    Good drop, Mex.

    As for ‘Fest, pseudo-intellectual community activism>>>>make believe, street credible false thuggery, so yeah, he has that going for him.

    One can always tell the politics of a corporation by it’s employees. That said, next time one of y’all go inside a Walmart, just check the caliber of it’s workers. Just an observation.

  • geico lizard

    Ive never heard of people protesting to bring in the communist nation of Wal-mart. Most protests are to keep them out of neighborhoods. Wal-mart is like China,Cuba and North Korea rolled up into one building. I think China paid those Olympic drummers more money than Wal-mart pay their employees.
    Charles Hamilton dissing Rhymefest on youtube from a Wal-mart bathroom coming in 4…3…2..

  • Mauckjw

    Come to the South or Westside of Chicago and tell the people they shouldn’t have jobs or cheap goods. The choice isn’t between competing minimum wage jobs. It’s between working at Wal-Mart and not having any work at all. Also the small business trope is garbage when the only small businesses around are coin-op laundry mats, corner stores owned by Asians and barber shops. Granted the whole “El Che” stuff is a glaring contradiction but that isn’t a comment on Wal-Mart. These communities have wallowed in poverty for several decades so to preemptively blame Wal-Mart is beyond stupid.

  • http://xxl gside

    Shit sound like a lick to me I’m from the eastside of Detroit this is the type of shit I’m in to robbing rich white people mex we will do it all arm robbers B & E shoplifting cash register coming up short let my people eat wish they would come to the hood shiitttt. Talking about Che Guevara we show them motherfucker some Che nigga shit capitalist pigs steal like a motherfucker form that old white man maybe Rymefest is just setting them motherfuckers up for the big pay off believe they every come hood nigga gone eat shit when there gone were taking the bricks and the steel real talk irons going for about $5.00 a pound rob that old white motherfuck blind if he ain’t already.

  • BIGNAT

    “Okay, I wouldn’t go that far. They still had to fuck with the pull-down gates after closing. This is a Martin Luther King, jr. Boulevard we’re talking about after all. It even intersects with a Malcolm X. Wowsers!”
    hell yeah the bright lights make niggas think to do wrong.
    boycott walmart never they got cheap dvd’s the 16 pack of tp for like 4 bucks nigga you can’t beat that. man the one near my friends house only fine women work there. i think they selling extra “product” on the side if you know what i mean.

  • http://www.windowslive.com Litha

    How do you know that Che would still be a revolutionary if he were alive? I hate it when people say “so and so must be turning in their grave right now.”

    There are so many revolutionaries turned tyrants in Africa.

    At least there’s no Walmart in South Africa.

    • Moving Sideways

      No, you guys just have DeBeers, which is obviously just an ordinary ethical, community-oriented, family business.

      • yoprince

        LMFAO

  • vhingrhamesonyo’momma

    Meijers>>>>Wal-mart.

  • yoprince

    damn i would post something intelligent.. but starting with Ron Mex and ending with the rest of the commenters, the good stuff has pretty much been said..

    i’m impressed with the intellectualness on this hip-hop site.. just hope you’re not ALL whitey.

    just in case someone didn’t get it.. fuck wal-mart. they systematically employ people in a way so as not to have to give them any benefits… and that’s just the beginning of their history of poor company-employee relations.

  • http://www.windowslive.com Litha

    Seems I have offended someone, hence the sarcasm. On the real though, I’d rather be South African than African American. Wouldn’t mind being a New Yorker – that’s how much influence illmatic and The Cold Vein have on me.

  • Detroit P

    I’m trynna stay above the poverty line. That’s a major part of my grind.
    ^^^^^
    lol wut up Capo!!!

  • http://www.evilmonito.com DM

    The deal is: Fest ups Wal-Mart, and they clear out his terrible recent releases in the Home Accessories aisle next to the rest of the coasters. Queen Latifah’s fame only takes you so far…

  • Mea

    Mauckjw said everything I was thinking.

  • Nav

    “On the other hand, “abstract nothingness” bangs pots and pans in the streets and draws attention to itself without understanding why.”

    Perfect way to end this.

  • http://www.elchethemovement.com El Che

    The dynamics of my community and your communities are obviously different. There are not many small businesses that employ people with any kind of living wage around 83rd & Chatham on the South Side of Chicago. Any business, including large corporations only succeed as far as the communities they serve. On the South Side there is a virtual food desert and the grocery stores that do exist gauge the people. These Walmart jobs allow people to earn living wages with the average being $12 per hour. Don’t get me twisted, I’m not fighting for a corporation, I’m fighting for that brother that just got released from prison with very little skills to have an opportunity to work in his community. 300 – 1,000 jobs is something we don’t have the luxury to be against. Black and brown Chicago suffers from 20% unemployment. That is not a recession that is a depression. I am not on the side of corporate interests, I am on the side of community interests which if you check the facts, overwhelmingly supports Walmart.

  • chillin mayne

    who woulda knew??^^^^^^