Rhymefest has written with and/or for Kanye West (“Jesus Walks,” “Black Skinhead”) and Common (“Glory”), among others, but has yet to enjoy the critical and commercial claim as his Chicago collaborators. 

“It does kind of bother me that I go to my friends’ $20 million houses, and last year I was trying to figure out how to pay my mortgage,” Rhymefest says during an interview with The Daily Beast. “It’s not their fault, totally. When you look at the way artists get paid now, streaming has decimated the income of the writer, so the writer doesn’t really have a career anymore. My ASCAP royalty checks went from a lot to almost nothing.”

Rhymefest, who has been a steady collaborator of West’s for more than a decade, says that West’s “All Day” song featured more artists than he would have wanted to work with on a song.

“There are 21 writers,” he says. “I wouldn’t be a part of that.”

Rhymefest says he also would want no part of the way Chief Keef’s career has evolved. 

“He’s exploited,” Rhymefest says. “I think many rappers these days have afflictions, such as Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, or autism. They need advocates, but we turn it into entertainment. The media is turning autism into entertainment. When I look at Chief Keef, I clearly see someone who has autism. Look at the way his face is structured, or his insensitivity to violence. He needs an advocate. But someone put him out there and exploited that child.”