About Che “Rhymefest” Smith
Driven by his motto, “true power is the power to empower others,” Che “Rhymefest” Smith is a writer, artist, political organizer and teacher, shattering negative stereotypes about hip-hop.
In 2005, Rhymefest won a Grammy for co-writing the mega-hit “Jesus Walks” with his childhood friend, Kanye West. In 2006, he released his critically acclaimed “Blue Collar” album and shortly after that, became the first rapper to meet in the British House of Commons when David Cameron invited him to discuss hip-hop and policy.
A dedicated community leader, social and political organizer, Rhymefest ran for Chicago’s City Council in one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods in 2011. After pushing the incumbent into a run-off and defeating four candidates, he lost by a narrow margin. In 2013, Rhymefest, together with his wife, Donnie Smith, founded Donda’s House, a non-profit organization that increases access to the arts. Donda’s House has served over 300 youth with free instruction and continues to be a force for creative change in Chicago.
In 2015, he won a Critics Choice award, Golden Globe and Academy Award for “Glory”, his collaboration with John Legend and Common for the film, Selma. Also in 2015, Rhymefest added model to his impressive resume, when Kenneth Cole selected him to be featured in his “Courageous Class” campaign that showcases individuals dedicated to making positive change. Che earned his second Grammy for his work on “Glory” in 2016.
Che chooses to live on the South Side of Chicago. Che believes that in order to counteract violence, systemic barriers and apathy, we should encourage entertainers, athletes and entrepreneurs to remain and invest in the communities they come from. Currently, Che is starring in the full-length feature film The Public, written and directed by Emilio Estevez. Che’s co-stars include Alec Baldwin, Taylor Schilling, Jena Malone and Gabrielle Union. Che is committed to using his success to further humanitarian efforts.