In what is turning out to be an landmark year for politics in the Midwest, Grammy-award winning rapper Che "Rhymefest" Smith is running for a seat on Chicago's City Council as Alderman of the 20th Ward.
Smith has pledged to give up a portion of his aldermanic salary for loans to bring business to the poverty-stricken area, as well as cleaning up the empty lots and neighborhood. Smith says "Let's start a 20th Ward renaissance," and that he's going to enlist the help of fellow Chicagoans Kanye West and Common to open businesses.
The homegrown Chicagoan who already has the gained ear of Chicago's youth via his music, has also garnered the support of the powerful Chicago Teachers' Union and even the brilliant Dr. Cornel West.
Yesterday Mr. Smith received 20% of the vote, which gives him enough leverage to battle incumbent Alderman Willie Cochran in an April 5th runoff. Incumbent, Mr. Cochran, received 46% of the votes, he needed 50% to be declared the winner.
“A lot of people didn’t vote for Cochran. People want change, and those who voted for Andre and George Davis will join up with me for change,” Che Smith said. “I’m having a revolution of love. We want the 20th Ward to be a village again," Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Besides being a successful musician, Smith has attended Columbia College and Purdue University, served as a substitute teacher and youth counselor, as well as supported organizations such as The Happiness Club and Cabrini Connections.
The Co-writer of "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West, is no stranger to politics though. He has previously appeared before US Congress as an advocate for the entertainment industry, in addition to meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and discussing the impact the hip hop community can have on politics and social activism.