Earlier this month HipHopDX caught up with Rhymefest in Lower Manhattan for a multi-part webisode series leading up to May 18th's independent release of El Che. The Chicago veteran emcee touched on a number of issues, starting right here with a pensive part one.
Asked about the ongoing global economic recession, 'Fest said, "For many people [the recession] is a time of 'Damn, well, what I'm gone' do?', for other people, it's a time of opportunity. This was [an economic climate similar to] when Ford, GM and [Apple were] created. If you're gonna ever start a business, if you're gonna ever be creative, if you're gonna ever have a level playing-field, now's the time. What's stoppin' you? You got the Internet - there are no laws on the Internet, you'd better hit it while it's hot." Although known to be a positive emcee, Rhymefest went as far as comparing the vigilante nature on the 'net to the pre-Rockefeller Drug Laws in the United States. "It used to be...in the '50s, '60s, '70s, the dope game was the game to be in because it was like before they had all these drug laws [where they are] lockin' people up forever. People were drug kingpins. Now, it's different. There's no such thing as Frank Lucas today...so niggas, quit rappin' about it while you're ahead."
Continuing, Rhymefest suggested identify fraud, perhaps in jest, as a lucritive web-hustle. "I'm still talkin' crime. Ain't nothin' wrong with crime - especially a victimless crime."
The political discussion continued, as the "Jesus Walks" co-writer stated that America was moving away from Capitalism, but not to the direction that even many conservatives believe. "All the the talk about Socialism and all that, that's a disguise for Communism.
Bringing the economic discussion to Hip Hop, Rhymefest asserted that not only does BET and radio not accurately depict the artists and songs that are successful in touring, but that the often unseen and unheard artists can be financially viable in today's materialistic Rap culture. "I heard...I think it was Waka Flocka [Flame] say, 'Rappers with lyrics ain't got no money,' but...how do you know? I could swear there's a radio station called Shade 45 invented by [Eminem], a rapper who can rap. I could've sworn Kanye [West] can rap real good. I could've sworn that Jay-Z was the dopest rapper that got everything. I'm pretty sure 50 Cent is where he is 'cause he can rap. People love Jadakiss - he can rap. All these people got money. Immortal Technique got money, Mos Def got money, Talib Kweli got money, I got money. Just 'cause you don't wear your money on your neck [...] don't mean you ain't got it. It just means you might be a lil' smarter than the average bear."
This, as well as Rhymefest's suggestion that some Rap media sites are charging artists to post content is included in Part 1 of HipHopDX's El Che webisode series.
Additional Reporting by Jake Paine.