by DC Livers – Exclusive to BlacksinHollywood.com
(www.BlacksinHollywood.com) – My first encounter with Cheland Smith, the Chicago-based Grammy and Oscar winning songwriter/rapper often referred to as Rhymefest, was historic. As I launched the nation’s first online Black radio station, BlackPressRadio, my first interview was with Rhymefest.
In full disclosure, prior to the interview I thought Rhymefest was an event not a person. About 5 minutes before the interview, I printed off one page from the Internet on him and that’s all I had to go on for the interview.
Talking with Rhymefest was mesmerizing. That man can talk. But it wasn’t just what he said but how he said it that made me realize he was special. Over the years, I developed a knack for recognizing talent and interviewing the person – usually before anyone really cares. In our 20 or so minutes of conversation, Rhyme converted me from a journalist who like a little hip hop to a full blown Rhymefest fan.
Over the years, I would have many encounters with him, each getting better than the last. We are so much alike in that we require mental stimulation and feel our brain cells die when we’re around a lot of nonsense. He is an American treasure as far as I can tell.
That’s why I found myself wiping a tear as I saw a man I respect plastered on a New York City building near Astor Place in Manhattan. It was why I led a unofficial one-woman boycott of the Oscars related to the song, Glory, which Rhymefest wrote but John Legend and Common got credit for. The protest was well read.
I know the history of these men as told to me by some of the men themselves and the late Donda West, Kanye’s mom. It is awesome and amazing and I respect it. But, the Oscar diss really was the last straw for me. It represented the whitewashing of Black history in music, movies and in life. It was deeply upsetting for me and so I took over BlackPressRadio’s Twitter, Facebook and other feeds to express myself. I authored an article entitled, “Jigaboo vs. Wannabe” they held no punches on my thoughts on today’s TV offerings.
So, it was comforting when his wife shared the journey and pics of the making of his documentary, “In My Father’s House,” which just hit 20 AMC theaters. I cannot tell how happy I was for him and his family.
His journey has been the snail’s life instead of Kanye’s rapid fire success but Rhymefest’s success feels just as sweet. It is welcomed. It is appreciated. It is humbled. It is long overdue.
SIDEBAR: Rhymefest has released a new track entitled, “Lost and Found” that takes a microscope to his experiences with fatherhood. While it’s not his best work by any stretch, it’s a powerful, deeply personal track that at times makes him less than likable with his harsh words towards his single mother. “Lost and Found‘s” departure from his previous uplifting songs like the female-focused track “Sister” makes the rapper’s words in Lost and Found sting even more, especially considering that Rhymefest is a lyricist and a wordsmith. It seems cheap, sensational and a tad shortsighted.
With recent attention being brought to slut shaming, Rhymefest’s lyrics are also getting attention for “toeing the line” of slut shaming his own mother. READ MORE. Rhymefest’s wife Donnie – who is also a writer – took to her blog to express her “confusion” over what she called “oversimiplified” reaction to the Lost and Found track and movie.
“My mama’s boyfriend taught me how to womanize. How to run from the truth and tell women lies. Never had a father and I blame my mama. She made bad judgments and had horrible karma. Couldn’t even find a decent man for me to honor.”
The Lost and Found video is at times a bit awkward and there are twinges of exploitation of his long-lost father, who suffers from alcoholism and possible mental illness. But, the lyrics make zero apologies for Rhymefest’s intense need to have his father in his life.
Watch the video below and feel free to add your comments.