Rhymefest's Blue Collar Message

Rhymefest's Blue Collar Message
For a burgeoning MC looking to snatch a little shelf space in the collective hip-hop consciousness, having your name linked to one of the most sought-after men in the game should be a blessing. For Chi-town mic fiend Rhymefest, that blessing has been a little mixed. Rhymefest first entered the fray in 2004 after reports that many of the Grammy Award-winning words in Kanye West’s career-solidifying cut "Jesus Walks” were actually drawn from the then-unknown ghost lyricist’s pen.

What those stories — in their thirst for Kanye’s blood and with their varying degrees of validity — failed to recognise, however, was that the volcanic south side of Chicago was about to spit out another gem. Precision moulded though years of hard-won MC battles (from which he can claim Eminem as one of many victims), and with an entirely relatable, workingman’s flow that carries the voice of a man trying to make lemonade from life’s many lemons, Rhymefest represents the voice of the common people. It’s a message that rings through track after track on his debut disc, Blue Collar.

The title alone expresses an idea near and dear to the proletariat rhymesmith big on concepts, despite his MC-ripping pedigree. "The Midwest was a hub for blue collar workers, and my thing is that we are the children of the workers, and we have work of our own to do,” Fest explains. With the musical assistance of fellow southsiders No ID and the Louis Vuitton Don, Kanye himself, the former substitute teacher tackles everything from the confused mind of a scholarship-seeking young American soldier to the "irrefutable” fact that all girls cheat, with a delivery that’s equal parts militant torch-bearer and class clown. Regardless of the method of attack, what matters most are the themes.

"When you listen to my rhymes, it’s hard for me to rhyme about how good I am and to give myself the glory because I feel like my music is a message through me as a vessel, from God to the people,” he pontificates. "When you listen to [my album], you’re hearing the duality of man, and that’s what I feel music is.”