Can a Grammy award-winning artist who co-wrote the hit song ‘Jesus Walks’ for Kanye West have success in the political arena of one of the roughest cities to run for office? This is what Che Smith better known as Rhymefest will find out during the 2011 election cycle.
Today (Thursday Sept 21 2010) Rhymefest will hold a press conference in Chicago to officially announce his bid for Alderman in the 20th ward which includes parts of Chicago’s Southside, Englewood and Woodlawn. The area has a number of nagging problems ranging from crumbling schools to violence. He noted its one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city and is in need of serious healing, solutions, fresh perspectives and new leadership that is on the same page as the residents.
During our Breakdown FM interview Rhymefest noted that Chicago has long been a political town where things are rough and tumble and very much in your face. Say what you will about New York, the reality about ‘The Chi’ is if you make it there politically speaking, you make it anywhere.
He continued by noting Chicago is a city that historically has prided itself on having strong organization. The way the city has long operated was not by who you are?, but instead who are you down with? and what do you all do?
He said one of the challenges that has faced folks residing in the 20th ward and in many places throughout society is that there is now a lot of disorganized leaders, ministers and politicians which has resulted in disorganized communities. Rhymefest wants to change that. He noted that over the past few years there have been some high-profile incidents of corruption which has contributed to the disenchantment that many have with ‘disorganized’ leadership. He said some of the long time leaders who have lost their way in doing so have created opportunities for new blood and new approaches to enter into the arena and be more accountable.
Fest noted that his bid should not be seen as someone trying to get into office on name recognition or celebrity status. He explained in great detail during our recent interview the types of steps he intends to take to move his community forward. He has a concept called AIM.. which stands for address, implement and maximize. He said with each problem confronting the community he and his team plan to Address them.. Implement solution s and Maximize resources.
Rhymefest believes that many of the solutions facing the 20th Ward lie within the residents. What needs to happen is opportunities for them to be part of the governing process should be made available and people should have a richer sense of ownership and better opportunities to weigh in on key issues.
In our interview Rhymefest lays out the plans he has to make this happen. He wants the community to be run like a Co-op. On key issues that involve spending and allocation of resources, he wants the community to be able to vote on it versus having someone go in and get caught up cuddling with special interests and outside forces. His job as alderman is to facilitate and implement the solutions the community puts forth.
Come 2011 the Windy City will garner the national spotlight not only because Rhymefest is in the race, but also former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is vying for Mayor’s seat now vacated by long time incumbent Richard Daley who recently stepped down…This should be a contest full of fireworks because Rahm is a take s no prisoners type of guy who recently held a fundraiser in Hollywood and will no doubt use his influence to have lot of big name people come into Chicago to stomp for him.
Rhymefest’s announcement has caused quite a stir with many within the music industry wanting to come out and stomp for him. The line up and camaraderie he has amongst Chicago’s Hip Hop community is formidable. From Lupe Fiasco to Kanye West and beyond, iIf Che is able to inspire his folks politically the way he does with his music the Windy City is gonna be on fiya.
Below is a link to pt1 of our interview. Take a close listen because Rhymefest lays out a lot of info about what he plans on doing and why. We will post up pt2 on Friday.