For The A.V. Membership TV present, host John Teti interviewed Rhymefest concerning the state of music in Chicago. The rapper, author, and social activist had extra to say than we might match within the episode, so right here’s the unabridged dialog in written type, alongside some outtakes. The A.V. Membership Hosted By John Teti airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. Jap on Fusion.
The A.V. Membership: We’re speaking concerning the sound of Chicago on this episode. We hear lots about East Coast and West Coast sounds in the case of hip-hop. What’s the Third Coast sound? What’s the sound of Chicago in your thoughts?
Rhymefest: Once I take into consideration a Chicago sound, I take into consideration the Nice Migration from the South. Lots of Chicago’s black artists are from Mississippi, Arkansas, and with them was introduced blues and gospel music. However the individuals are all working folks from someplace else, whether or not they had been Polish, or Irish, or Italian, or black from Mississippi. And all of those communities working to return up created home music, and re-imagined blues, and created hip-hop. In Chicago, the largest hip-hop is the consciousness of America. So once you have a look at the largest hip-hop artists in Chicago—Lupe Fiasco, Frequent, Likelihood The Rapper, Kanye, Rhymefest—the messages that we put out with songs like “Glory” or “Jesus Walks,” it was the consciousness for a type of music that wasn’t all flashy or all gangster. However in that consciousness, it’s nonetheless that historical past of gospel and blues and home and even jazz. So once I consider the sound, it’s not a sound that’s ascribed to an individual, however that’s ascribed to the spirit of immigration.
AVC: And neighborhood feels like an essential a part of it.
Rhymefest: And neighborhood. To me, the sound that we produce right here is the tales of individuals.
AVC: How does that set it other than the East and West Coast sounds?
Rhymefest: New York is the monetary capital of the world. Every part strikes so quick, and the music is quick, and a few of it’s for cash. So these massive report labels had been there. And it’s the place you wish to do these quick offers. And the East Coast sound—cash—it’s capitalism. The West Coast sound is magnificence. It’s, “Hey, man, simply calm down, bro.” It’s a sunny day. However the Midwest—it’s the sound of wrestle and triumph and extra wrestle and extra triumph and the teachings we discovered as household. And it’s the neighborhood sound. It’s the sound that’s actually on the core of your soul. And that’s why we received Curtis Mayfield from Chicago. Let’s not overlook that. Once you hear songs like “Superfly” and “The Mack” and “Pusherman” and all of that stuff, that was all of Cabrini-Inexperienced.
AVC: Speak about what Cabrini-Inexperienced is so non-Chicago folks know what you’re speaking about.
Rhymefest: Cabrini-Inexperienced was a city inside a metropolis. It was a city the place chaos reigned supreme. The place folks had been stacked on prime of one another and disadvantaged of sources. A spot that turned one thing that it wasn’t initially supposed to be. It was supposed to be non permanent housing. And it turned a lifestyle. And that lifestyle created music, created athletes, nice artists, nice athletes, nice activists.
AVC: So nice artists can emerge from this ambiance of chaos.
Rhymefest: The wrestle. What are diamonds made in?
AVC: Excessive strain.
Rhymefest: That’s why Chicagoans are among the most particular folks on the earth.
AVC: So should you’re speaking to a younger artist, and I do know you try this lots, they usually ask you “why keep in Chicago?”—what do you inform them?
Rhymefest: Not less than in hip-hop, for too lengthy it’s been making an attempt to make it out the hood. Escaping as an alternative of creating it to return again and rebuild. And that message of individuality and never collectivity, we’ve misplaced our mind belief. Our communities have misplaced our CEOs. There’s an obligation and an obligation to neighborhood that we should train our youngsters to honor regardless of how far they go. Life is like baseball: You solely rating once you depart house and return house. We’ve folks that have left house and received caught within the outfield. So we don’t rating in our communities. It’s due to a scarcity of management. And management ain’t the church. Management ain’t the alderman. I attempted to run for alderman. I noticed what Chicago politics is from the within.
AVC: You probably did?
Rhymefest: I misplaced by 100 votes. It was arrange like a foul joke. It was the lawyer, rapper, preacher, and officer all operating for workplace. And the 2 folks that went to the runoff had been the rapper and the policeman. Now, the rapper didn’t win, however eight years later, the policeman who gained is now being indicted for embezzling cash from the workplace. Let’s return to your query. Why keep? As a result of that is the place that gave me the experiences to assist write a music to win an Oscar and write two different songs that received Grammys. There’s nonetheless work to be achieved. If I depart, then one other era has to begin throughout. This crime that’s taking place is as a result of too many individuals like me left. I went to Colombia for my birthday, and went to completely different villages and noticed how folks had been dwelling with out law enforcement officials. They go to the elders with disputes. After which they’ve younger folks with completely different age teams which are the top of the younger folks in these age teams, they usually get alongside as a village, they usually love, they usually dance, they usually sing. And I used to be similar to, “Oh, my god, we are able to do issues a sure method.” After which my aircraft landed, and my automotive had a ticket on it. I mentioned, “I adore it, we’re again.” Why keep? As a result of the household wants you.
AVC: Speak about Donda’s Home. Inform me the way you improve entry to the humanities and why that’s essential proper now.
Rhymefest: Chicago has had, and has, among the best historic establishments of the world. The place I consider black, African-American establishments proceed to make errors is we don’t exchange ourselves. So we’ve these outdated, rotten establishments. I’m not saying they’re not nice for neighborhood and that they didn’t do nice issues and that as elders, they shouldn’t be held in excessive esteem. They need to be.
AVC: However you’re saying they’re not getting the subsequent era of leaders prepared.
Rhymefest: That’s precisely what I’m saying. And that’s not what workplace is for. And that’s not democracy. I don’t agree that Mayor Daley ought to have been mayor for 50 years. The place is the lady mayor on this city? I can’t lie, I’m a patriarch of my household, and I don’t thoughts patriarchy in my household. However I do perceive that my spouse is the engine of my house. And he or she makes it run. She permits me to steer the automotive.
AVC: However with Donda’s Home, you’re making an attempt to deliver alongside the subsequent era of artists. You’re making an attempt to switch your self.
Rhymefest: Kanye’s mom was such a strong power in my life.
AVC: That’s Donda.
Rhymefest: Dr. Donda West, who was the dean of the English Division at Chicago State College, Fulbright scholar, knowledgeable in Russian poetry. A black girl who’s an knowledgeable of Russian poetry? She introduced all of his pals and handled us as her sons. And once I would make raps as a younger child, and I’d be speaking about how many individuals I shot, what number of girls I slept with, how a lot medicine I offered, she pulled me to the facet and mentioned, “Rhymefest, did you actually sleep with that many ladies? I imply, I’m not judging. Did you actually shoot that many individuals?” And I mentioned, “No, I’m simply making an attempt to get well-known. That’s the way you get on the radio. You bought to speak about stuff you ain’t did, but it surely offers a picture of who they consider you to be anyway.” She mentioned, “How would you’re feeling should you and Kanye received actual profitable, which I don’t suppose will occur, as a result of Kanye’s nuts, and I don’t consider anyone else will take care of him. However should you did get profitable and get on the radio, how would you’re feeling in the event that they began to consider you had been who you mentioned you might be? Are you able to be that individual?” And I used to be like, “I by no means thought of it. I simply wish to be well-known.” She’s like, “However are you able to be that? Since you’re going to should stay within the lie you informed on your self.”
AVC: Do you suppose that’s what occurs to a variety of artists, that their life turns into the artwork?
Rhymefest: Sure, and it’s one thing that they needed to get out so unhealthy that they turned themselves into somebody they by no means thought they may ever be, that maybe they by no means even needed to be, a lie that they cast about themselves. I do know concerning the dishonesty in artwork. And so what we’re doing at Donda’s Home is share your fact. Actual artists provide authenticity, not simply cash. And so we deliver artists in, like Large Sean and Killer Mike from Run The Jewels. Totally different folks will are available and discuss to younger artists concerning the enterprise of artwork. We bought Kanye’s childhood house, and we’re making an attempt to boost cash to create a middle there and name it a lighthouse. In order that the sunshine that originated at that house can occur for younger folks from round that neighborhood within the title of Dr. Donda West.
AVC: You talked about the enterprise, and also you mentioned earlier that you simply’ve received to get on the radio to be well-known. However Likelihood has created this narrative the place you form of create your individual profession by social media and also you don’t want the large enterprise facet of music anymore. Do you purchase that new media narrative?
Rhymefest: I positively consider that the ability of the artist is within the artist’s fingers now. We’re type of within the wild, wild west of music the place labels don’t exist anymore. And also you go so far as you are taking your self. And that’s that American self-determination that is likely one of the causes this nation is so nice and might survive on autopilot proper now. However I take exception to saying that Likelihood created this. Who’s his producer? Who’s within the room when he’s writing songs that helps him with concepts? See, I used to be that man for Kanye. When Kanye mentioned that it was him and mentioned that he was the genius… See, genius is a spirit of collectivity. So we received to cease this “I did it myself.” And I really like Likelihood. That is no dis. The younger man has some nice music. However he additionally has a father who works with Rahm Emanuel, who has a brother named [powerful talent agent] Ari Emanuel. The trick is networks. And there’s nothing incorrect with that. However let’s not exit and preserve saying that someone did it themselves. Every part that we try this’s nice is due to one another. You and I are doing one thing nice proper now, as a collective. Now if I’m going out right here and say, “Did you see me on that present? I certain was sensible.”
AVC: I is likely to be somewhat upset.
Rhymefest: What about the entire digital camera folks and the manufacturing folks and the chief producers and the military of what number of? We put it on TV. A military of what number of?
Rhymefest: Come on, that’s not a military. That’s all I’m saying. I really like younger brother. I want he would discuss to me, however I don’t suppose he likes me. Irrespective of. Likelihood likes Kanye. And so the one factor I’d say is, from my vantage level, should you’re going to be Chicago, be neighborhood.