In Defense of Rhymefest

We Spent Sometime with Rhymefest and Learned About His Organization Donda’s House and We Support It, And So Should You.

the holiday weekend, Che “Rhymefest” Smith inserted himself into the feud between Drake and Pusha T and Kanye West to call out his childhood friend, Kanye West, over Donda’s House, a nonprofit co-founded by the Smith and West in honor of Kanye’s late mother.

Rhymefest tweeted, “@Drake when G.O.O.D. Music sends the money they owe you, will you please help us rebuild Kanye’s mothers (sic) house for the youth of Chicago. I spoke to Kanye about it. his response was ‘fuck the youth of Chicago.”

Twice, Kim Kardashian West jumped in to defend her husband, Kanye West. The first came shortly after Rhymefest’s tweet to Drake. “U haven’t been right since u got kicked out of the studio in Hawaii wearing fake Yeezy’s @Rymefest. You’re over levergenging (sic) Kanye’s name & asked Kanye to donate money to u so stop w your fake community politics & lies. Truth is you haven’t been able to sustain the foundation.” Kardashian West went on to tweet, “You better believe I will make it my mission to take Donda’s House from you and let my children run it the way it should be run!” Mrs. West ended her tirade, that many thought was her husband disguised as her, by tweeting, “Sorry to all of my followers for flooding my timeline I know you have no idea who Rhymefest is.”

Although many supported Mrs. Kardashian West, many more did not. Many cited “white privilege,” a white woman saying only her kids (who are black) can properly run an organization on the South Side of Chicago. Others disagreed with the way Kardashian West belittled Rhymefest by claiming he’s not well-known, and therefore not worth knowing.

Kim Kardashian West’s May 26th Tweets:

Rhymefest Instantly Replies:

It was almost as if, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West played right into Rhymefest’s hands, because he instantly replied to Kardashian West. “Hey @KimKardashian good to hear from you. Here’s my response,” Rhymefest tweeted. You can read the full statement below.

Rhymefest said, “At this point, if you and Kanye want us to dissolve the organization so that you can do the work, we welcome that. As we will continue form our home on the South Side of Chicago, to do what we can to support the community we’ve worked five years to build in spire of you & Kanye’s lack of interest or support…I anchorage you instead of attacking me personally, to google us, watch the videos on our YouTube channel featuring our work and come actually speak to the young people who have been involved in our program before you, in your position of privilege from God knows where in the world, via social media attempt to dismantle this values community asset.”

Following Rhymefest’s response Donda’s House tweeted it will not longer use the name Donda’s House Inc.

Kardashian West Responds May 27th:

Following an outpouring of support for Rhymefest, Donda’s House and helping the South Side Chicago Community, Mrs. Kardashian West seemed to explain her tweets from the previous day that attacked Rhymefest. Kardashian clarified that she is standing up for her husband and will “always ride for [her] man.”

Kardashian West also explained why Kanye West decided to leave Donda’s House, “After several years of lack of performance from the organization and Kanye going through personal financial issues, he could no longer fund salaries,”  she tweeted. “Rhymefest asked to take it over, and Kanye agreed with no financial strings attached.”


About Rhymefest and Donda’s House

I met Rhymefest 3 years ago while he was promoting a documentary film by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. The Film, In My Father’s House documents Rhymefest reuniting with his homeless father after 25 years. Around the time of the film, Rhymefest was chosen to be part of Kenneth Cole’s The Courageous Class. The Courageous Class, according to Kenneth Cole’s website, seeks to honor those who “confidently overcome life’s challenges to become the inspiring role models they were meant tone.” Kenneth Cole is my uncle, and I met Che “Rhymefest” Smith when they premiered “In My Father’s House” during the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival in 2015. My buddy, Mitch and I tagged along one day on a fishing trip with Kenneth, Che, and his wife, Donnie Nicole Smith.

For those unfamiliar with Rhymefest, Rhymefest was born in Chicago, Illinois and started battle rapping on the streets of Southside. He was a close childhood friend of Kanye West and has collaborated with Kanye West. The two co-wrote the Grammy-winning “Jesus Walks.” More recently, Rhymefest co-wrote “New Slaves” and “Glory,” which was prominently featured in the Ava DuVernay film Selma and performed by Common and John Legend.

During our fishing day together, Che and his wife Donnie told me about Donda’s house. Donda’s House was named after Kanye West’s mom, who Che told me, helped raise him. Donda died during botched plastic surgery. At the time I asked Rhymefest many questions about his childhood friend Kanye, who at the time was exhibit some erratic behavior on Twitter. Rhymefest only said the nicest of things about Kanye. He seemed genuine in his support of his childhood friend and honestly came off as proud of his friend. Additionally, both Rhymefest and his wife Donnie told me they had met Kim Kardashian and thought highly of her. With that said, they both admitted to not spending much time with her to even formulate a strong opinion one way or the other.

According to Donda’s House, they “support a pipeline to the creative industries through arts education & youth development.” According to its website, Donda’s House “the organization provides unprecedented access and education from leading experts in the arts, culture & entertainment industry to Chicago’s creative youth and young adults in 14-24.” They then incubate talent and help provide “professional development for creatives in order to enhance skills and help Creatives close the gap between their reality and their dreams.”


About Chicago

It’s easy to get caught up in the twitter drama that involves two of the world most famous or controversial individuals, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, but let’s remind ourselves what is at the core here: helping disadvantaged young creative adults in Chicago succeed. Since Donald Trump decided to run for President, Chicago has been a constant talking point. Kanye recently re-stated his support for President Trump which has angered many in Chicago.

On May 25, Trump tweeted:

Crime in Chicago is down, by the way.

In December President Trump said at the FBI Academy graduation in Quanitco, Virginia: “When you look at what’s going on in Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? What the hell is happening there? For the second year in a row, a person was shot in Chicago every three hours. You don’t think the people in this room can stop that? They’d stop it. They’d stop it.”

Just a week before, at a rally in Pensacola Florida, President Trump said, “The city of Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? There are those who say that Afghanistan is safer than Chicago, okay? What is going on? You know what’s wrong with Chicago? Weak, ineffective politicians. Democrats that don’t want to force restrictions and don’t, and by the way, Chicago, — for those of you that are gonna say, ‘Guns, guns’ — Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the United States, okay? Just in case you were thinking about it. You know they immediately say, ‘Oh, you’re gonna take away.’ Well, Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the United States. So we’re asking Democrats in Congress to cease their obstuction and do the right thing — end sanctuary cities.”

In November, Trump again lied and incorrectly asserted Chicago has the strongest gun laws in the country, “”Look at the city with the strongest gun laws in our nation — Chicago. Chicago is a disaster, a total disaster. If this man did not have a gun or rifle it would have been a much worse situation in the great state of Texas.”

on Fox News, in October 2017, Trump told Sean Hannity, “I’ll never forget. I was in Chicago and a police officer. There was a motorcycle deal to the plane and I was talking to the police, I was taking a picture. I said, ‘How do you stop this?”We could stop it immediately, sir.’I said ‘What do you mean you could stop it immediately?”If they let us do our job, we could stop it immediately.’Now at some point you’re gonna have to let them do their job. And they want to do their job. That’s the incredible thing.”

In July of 2017, Trump said at rally in Youngstown, “What the hell is going on in Chicago? Better tell that mayor to get tough because it’s not working what they’re doing.”

I can go on and on, but check out the rest of what he said here via the Chicago Tribune.

Rhymefest vs. Kanye

When I first came across Rhymefest’s tweet to Drake and Kim Kardashian West’s response, I felt that perhaps Rhymefest was wrong to throw his friend under the bus in such a public matter. I found Kim Kardashian’s, who I have always respected and even defended, response to be uncharacteristic and demeaning. However, I understand the challenges that not-for-profits who depend on donations and/or government grants go through. I thought maybe this was good for Donda’s House, more people will know of the excellent work it does and is trying to do, and perhaps they will donate.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times as of 2013, there were more than 1.3 million in Chicago metro areal living in poverty. It’s Chicago’s 1.3+ million who are impoverished that we should be discussing. We shouldn’t be attacking those who are trying so hard to even the playing field and bring some of those 1.3 million out of poverty. That is what Donda’s House was established to do. That is what Rhymefest is trying to do. And that is why I must support Rhymefest here.

Check out Donda’s House and feel free to donate:

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