Rhymefest - El Che

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Despite the title, El Che is as much "Dead Presidents" as it is dead prez because the content is not overtly political.

Rhymefest is just a name, but Che is a calling. Though the Grammy Award-winner consciously chose his Rap alias, Rhymefest’s birth name - Che Smith - carries a burden considering that it was inspired by controversial revolutionary Che Guevara. On his deeply-delayed, highly-anctipated sophomore release, El Che, Mr. Smith does his best to live up to that weighty name and still keep fans tuned-in to the charismatic style that first attracted them to his debut.


Despite the title, El Che is as much “Dead Presidents” as it is dead prez because the content is not overtly political. In fact, Rhymefest has never been a "revolutionary" in the soapbox sense. He's always represented the real life perspective: smart enough to speak on important issues but cool and flawed enough to not be above enjoyment. It's clear throughout El Che that Rhymefest tries to represent his fun-loving nature and substantive message with equal importance.  

'Fest shows his balance as he goes Gump on "Chocolates," an ode to the many flavors of women that he just can't resist. And while the Windy City native has more than a few ditties aimed at the fairer sex (“Agony” and “Say Wassup”), he switches modes and trades perseverance stories with Little Brother on "How High." Over a diverse set of electric guitars and prolonged keyboard notes, Rhymefest passionately raps, "Heart felt sting, push past the pain / But I still stay fly when it rains on my wings / Icarus, sky high, picture this / Look down, it's all insignificant / Look up, ooh, it's magnificence / It's so intense I feel like my wings left prints on the cloud."

While El Che has its faults, they are not completely flagrant fouls. The only complete misfires are "Agony" and "Last Night," two songs that sound far too familiar and forgettable. But when Rhymefest delivers tracks that play to his strongpoints, the results are incredible. Production-duo Best Kept Secret helps inspire what's arguably El Che's best song, "Talk My Shit." Fused with a bit of Go-Go that leaves listeners little choice but to bounce, the song allows Rhymefest to addresses his middleground nature and say, "Fest, do some ignorant shit, I ain't ignorant / I don't like that nerd rap either, I'm not into it."

The energetic "Give It To Me" then delivers insight into world affairs likely to appeal to both Che's. Rhymefest's voice booms over Scram Jones' frenetic horn and vocal samples as he raps about Chicago’s large death toll and being in Mumbai during the 2008 terrorist attacks. The perils of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict then give way to the stress of relationships on "City Has Fallen." Drums are largely absent during his verses, but ‘Fest handles the jazzy horns with equally smooth lyrics about needing "Red Cross for heart loss." Yes, baby-mama drama is a well-traveled path; but "City" is more laid-back than the typically up-tempo songs on El Che, so the song's relaxing nature helps balance the record's vibe much like it wobbles between subjects.

Interludes with weak skits preface strong acapella verses that draw links between Rhymefest and Guevara. It’s an interesting move considering that El Che could prove polarizing, just like Guevara. Not everyone will appreciate the album’s love songs and others may reject the music-with-a-message mantra that it embraces. However, El Che is a solid album with its greatest strength being a balance of content and subject. Though many albums fail because artists try to make “something for everyone,” Rhymefest succeeds by releasing something everyone could benefit from hearing.

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57 Comments

  • Refugee27

    Album should've got that half star up.

  • THE REAL#1STAN

    EMINEM RECOVERY

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  • MightyMike27

    Dope album... "How High" should be the single.. All the tracks are decent tho.. Good shyt rhymefest

  • SutterKane

    I been waiting for this album for years, I only downloaded a few songs so far, I'm trying to buy this bitch but I cant find it anywhere, might have to go through amazon or summin, I dont have enough material to give it a review yet but so far its shaping up about as good as I hoped it would

  • 19masssp

    i'm disappointed that all the original songs were,nt on their the whole shit that got started with prometheus threatening to put out his unreleased shit.im really sad and pissed the album would not have been this.More or less ima however my disappointment is not towards fest,but towards the label pissed at the fan that stole his i-pod or the mother fucker that thought it was a good idea to fucking make a publicity stunt like that.Album would not have sounded like this.imma cop the album cause fest is indeed killing mother fucking in that lyrical shit always.l look foward to copping the album even though that shit happened.alright peace yo !!!!!!!!one ps.i'm an american and i'd just like to say i can suck my own cock...........

  • West_Coast_G

    great album.......nuff said

    • MightyMike27

      true that son.. I'll give it a 3 in a half out of 5.. Good Hip Hop. Dope Lyrics.. Rhymefest came into my job a couple months back. Walgreens.. lol asked me where the bottled water was at.. I told em where and than got on the phone and asked my guy who was on the register if the dude he was about to ring up was Rhymefest.. Turned out it was.. I wasn't sure but yeah, wish I cud have gotten his autograph.. Dope album tho. Good beats. good rhymes. Next time he cums in I'll give em his props lol... prolly pitch a couple of my beats to em to.. PeaCe

  • savage88

    there a couple bangers on this album , but overall its not all that . average shit Chicago , last night , how high i liked

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  • Brixxx

    The album grew on me the more I listened this week. It's kinda like an Outkast album where it sounds ok at first and then the more you jam it back to back you fall in love with it. Had to come back and rate it again!

  • Shivaman

    Only 3? Who did the review? Kermit the frog?

  • Bones Buck

    I listened on the way to work.... SOLID

  • BlahUno

    'Fest should do a full album with Molemen on the boards. Their beats fitted him perfectly in the past. Btw it's a shame that 'Angry Black Man' joint hasn't come out offcially yet!

  • Renee

    This album is dope and it does something that most artists fail to do - show some diversity and range. Most of these rappers are one sided and it seems like whoever wrote the review is looking for a one-sided artist (all hardcore/underground joints). It's nice to see that Fest can spit to the ladies, still cover religion and still stay true to his roots as a battle rapper. I looked at some of the other reviews and Trina gets a 5 but Fest gets a 3? Come on son!!!!

  • Young Lee

    Some deep shitt right there

  • Jake Polumbo

    Why didn't Fest just put the two itunes bonus tracks on the album? Took me forever to listen to all 18 tracks (including the 2 bonus) but it was a head nod all the way thru that muddasucka. Kazakhstan gangstaz stand up!

  • adrienne23

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  • Jay rock

    Incredible...El Che 2moro

  • Brixxx

    I'm 12 tracks in and so far only 1 song that's kinda weak. Solid for the most part!

  • datdude01

    this album is fire! The reviewer doesn't know what he's talking about.

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  • lisagreen12

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  • soulja boy himself

    sucks dick im the best..............soulja boy tell em ,sob.... aRAB

  • TrueHater615

    FYI you can listen to the whole shit over at Myspace Music right now. Not sure why they just gave a nigga like me the whole album for free but this shit rocking. 4 1/2 to me.

  • mcs305

    I strongly recommend ______ B l a c k W h i t e C u p i d * C o m ______ to you where I just found my interracial boyfriend! You know it is a great place to meet black men and beautiful women. What's kind of relationship do you want?

  • gutterman187

    Yall fucked up on this rating LOL! Just got my pre-order from Amazon and XXL was right... this shit is XL at minimum! I hope HipHopDx just hit the wrong key cause your review doesn't even make sense. If "Rhymefest succeeds by releasing something everyone could benefit from hearing" why the fuck yall gave El Che a 3? Anyway, El Che is crack, get that shit people!

  • LUV2LAF2010

    I strongly recommend ______ B l a c k W h i t e C u p i d * C o m ______ to you where I just found my interracial boyfriend! You know it is a great place to meet black men and beautiful women. What's kind of relationship do you want?

  • dtfrink

    the mixtape should have been the ablum

  • Magnum Opus

    The 3 is fair if you consider Fest's potential. This album is wildly inconsistent, but as bad as the lows are the high points are phenomenal. If he put out an album a year I could understand the choices for what made the album, but for such a long awaited sophomore release there should be more bangers on this and less pillow talk rap. Nothing against the LL style lady talk, but Rhymefest's audience isn't LL's, and most want a showcase of his spit game, not songs aimed at the radio.

    • Brixxx

      What kind of logic is that? So if he put out albums every year you woulda gave him a 4 instead of a 5? That's dumb as shit son

  • Mortis

    Major Letdown. Had high hopes and got nothing but a IGA Brand Cool J record.

  • eddie m.

    I was at the el che release party last night and all the tracks he played were CRAZY. Truth on You in particular is one of the best songs Ive heard this year. El Che is going to be amazing.

  • problemz327

    rhymefest super underrated..lyrically he's nice but he kind of gets a little annoying after a while..his voice i dunno what it is...still imagine if producers laced him more often..he would be making wild noise right now...that primo joint he did on the el che mixtape was banannas...

  • Truly Yrz

    Meh. I had higher hopes.

  • Kermitage

    Hugely disappointing.

  • Kermitage

    Hugely disappointing.

  • Kermitage

    Hugely disappointing.

  • d79

    Not a fan of Rhymefest, but, that feature video had me moved....Give him props; have to check-out the Album...

  • larry j

    that shit is mad gay son, what yall need to bump is that look like jesus thats that real rap

  • Jabari

    How yall give this man such a good review and only 3 XXX?! I went to the release party last night in the Chi and everything I heard off El Che was bananas!

  • BRRRR

    more terrorist rap nice

  • open ears / open mind

    so if the reviewing thinks it's a good album, why only a 3?

  • DJJJ

    I love REAL hip-hop. Turn off the radio. EL CHE BABY!

  • Lemonz

    I usually ain't into these acapella verses/shits. They're usually always coming off sounding corny and whatnot, but I actualy dug that one in the video that's posted up. That, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks to be the shiiiitt. Copped the album earlier, better than I thought it'd be, though some songs on it are kinda t3h lame. Nice shit though Rhymefest, nice shit. Got a fan outta me now.

    • The Ooh Child

      Yeah, I fuckin dug that. He was going on some spoken word poetry type shit. And you're right, Mario is a real mothafucka! That nigga always go hard. Apparently this fucking album came out like three weeks ago, but I'm just hearin about it just now, but Imma go pick this up right now, go on a nice fuckin car drive shit

  • willboy

    That "talk my sh*t" song has a little more than a "little" go-go sound in it lol. I am really happy to hear Rhymefest collaborate with the likes of Little Brother. Those three do a good job of making a complete record. "How high" is incredible. Hopefully everything goes through and I can actually pick this album up in stores. I have been waiting too long. Check me out at birdsofpurplefeathers.blogspot.com twitter me @ purplewingz10