Chicago hip-hop artist Rhymefest recently announced his candidacy for alderman representing Chicago’s 20th ward.

The artist, whose real name is Che Smith, won a Grammy as Kanye West’s co-writer for the hit “Jesus Walks.”

Emphasizing his desire to serve everyday residents, Smith made his campaign announcement Oct. 21 in a local car wash and detailing store, surrounded by family and supporters.

“The priority is to return the community back in the hands of the people that live there,” the 33-year-old said during the event.

Smith is running on a platform of small businesses support and youth engagement. If elected, he will use his music, weekly town hall meetings and other methods as tools to reach Chicago’s young people, he told

“Every time I came home, it was blaring in my face,” said Smith said of conditions where he resides in Woodlawn an area in the 20th Ward. “The biggest injustice I was facing was right where I lived and it’s time for me to take personal responsibility and address it.”

The 20th Ward jurisdiction includes six South Side neighborhoods—Englewood, Woodlawn, Park Manor, Washington Park, New City and Back of the Yards. Smith would serve as a four-year representative for these areas on the Chicago City Council.

His opponent, current Alderman Willie Cochran is a retired police officer who says he will seek re-election.

“The voters of the 20th Ward know the difference between a professional public administrator who’s been doing an outstanding job for them…as opposed to someone who is a known hip-hop artist who degrades women and promotes violence in his videos,” Cochran told The Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago will hold its municipal general election on Feb. 22.


Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO