If successful, Smith will become one of 50 members of Chicago’s city council, replacing incumbent alderman Willie Cochran who earned 46 percent of the ward’s vote, but not enough to avoid a run-off election in April. Smith says that people in his ward are ready for change, and he’s prepared to deliver it. Smith garnered 20 percent of the vote, compared to Cochran’s 46%. Smith says that the presence of another Smith – Andre Smith – on the ballot may have confused voters, and he’s looking forward to being the only Smith on the ballot in April.
Smith has already made his mark in rap music. He co-wrote and won a Grammy for Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.” He’s unapologetic for his lyrics, which are in many cases coarse, and says that they shouldn’t be used by the voters to judge his political ambitions. His desire to improve the 20th Ward, which is located on Chicago’s South Side, stems from the high rate of poverty and minimal employment prospects in the district. His campaign includes plans to bring green and sustainable companies to the area to provide jobs for the 20th Ward residents. Rhymefest has the support of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, and says that the runoff, which takes place on April 5, gives him the opportunity to distinguish himself as a man of the people.
Smith isn’t a stranger to the challenges of the people he hopes to represent. Aside from his musical career, Smith has also worked as a bus driver a janitor and a prison guard. He also has misdemeanor convictions for domestic assault and weapons possession. That doesn’t change his desire to be a positive force in the lives of his neighbors and doesn’t think that should keep him from representing them at the city level.
Whether he wins or loses, Rhymefest says he won’t put his music career on hold. He still has plenty of rap beats to offer, but he says that he’ll use his rap beats as a teaching tool, and he will hold himself to a higher standard when it comes to his lyrics and his purpose as a rap musician.
Photo Credit: JuggernautCo, via Flickr