is a revolutionary artist, writer, and activist. Popularly known as Rhymefest, the South Side Chicago native has been a trailblazer in music, television, and politics.
Emerging from humble beginnings, Rhymefest has managed to rise from substitute teacher to global educator. After permanently trading in his janitor uniform for a microphone, Rhymefest has been a vocal advocate for Hip Hop artists worldwide. In October 2006, Fest became the first rapper to meet with the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party. As he sat down with David Cameron, the Parliamentary Leader of the Opposition, Rhymefest was able to convince the political figure not to be an enemy of all things Hip Hop. More recently, Rhymefest has traveled with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) as a proponent of H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act.
As an emcee, Rhymefest is the total package. Few rappers can brag about defeating the lyrical wizard Eminem in one breath, and in the next, stake claim to music’s most coveted prize – a Grammy. From battling off the top of the head, to penning classic hits, Rhymefest is one of Hip Hop’s most dangerous emcees. A two time winner of Scribble Jam (1997 and 2003), Rhymefest came into the national spotlight after co-writing “Jesus Walks” with his childhood comrade Kanye West. Fest contributed significantly to West’s debut “The College Dropout,” co-writing songs like “All Falls Down” as well. The two also collaborated on Rhymefest’s breakout single “Brand New,” off of 2006’s critically acclaimed Blue Collar LP. From scribing 16s for legends like Queen Latifah and Lil Jon, to lacing his own tracks with extraordinary energy, Rhymefest is a powerhouse behind the scenes and in the limelight.
In front of the camera, few artists have the charisma and stage presence that Rhymefest naturally exudes. Taking the stage on Nick Cannon’s Wild’N Out, Fest has one of the most memorable lines to date, as he freestyled “The black team, a real hard team to deal with, what the hell is this? A little baby Will Smith? I don’t understand, by all accounts, Nick Cannon, get out of here, you need to Roll… Bounce!” With humorous outbursts like these, Rhymefest thrives on late night television. On Last Call with Carson Daly, Fest blessed the national TV audience with an impromptu freestyle during his performance of “Fever.” Rhymefest has also been a welcomed guest on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and even voiced a puppet on Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers.
Outside of his political activism, songwriting, and television appearances, Rhymefest has been hard at work perfecting his highly anticipated El Che album. Finally liberated from major label red tape, Hip Hop lovers should expect to hear an unfiltered Rhymefest, free from the corporate suits and oppressive ideas of the prevailing record industry. Che is partnering with dangerousNEGRO Entertainment (dN|Be ENT) as the flagship artist, and will enjoy full creative control over his projects. Three years in the making, look for El Che to drop in early 2010. Until then, feel free to rock to Rhymefest’s two street albums: Man In The Mirror, known as the greatest Michael Jackson tribute ever recorded (produced by famed Amy Winehouse producer Mark Ronson), and The Manual, full of classic beats and new street bangers by Scram Jones
The group's musical director S1 (recently known for his production on Kanye West's POWER) began playing musical instruments, including the piano, keyboards, and the drums, at a young age. His musical inspirations included legendary producers like Quincy Jones, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock and J Dilla. He and his cousin Myth began writing rhymes after hearing Run-D.M.C.'s classic 1986 album Raising Hell. In 1996, the cousins formed a duo named Symbolyc Elementz, and in May of that year, the duo was featured in The Source's "Unsigned Hype" column. S1 met Myone, at the time still a High School student, while working on a day job in 1998. Between 1999 and 2000, the three began recording together, and decided to officially form a group, under the name Strange Fruit Project. SFP released their first group single, "All the Way" b/w "Maintain", in 2003.
2004 to 2005
The track "All the Way" was included on the group's debut album, From Divine', released in early 2004 on Spilt Milk Records. The album was produced entirely by S1, except for the single "Eternally Yours", which was produced by up-and-coming beatmaker Illmind. The album received little attention, but "All the Way" received airplay on college radio stations, and was nominated for 2004 Song of the Year by BBC Radio. The group followed shortly with their second album, Soul Travelin, released in September 2004 on Split Milk Records. Like their debut, the album received little sales and attention, but garnered the group more attention within the hip hop community. Jeff Wade of the Dallas Observer described the album as "a soulful mixture of personal, from-the-heart lyrics, sweet harmonies and thumpin' drums". In 2005, the group collaborated with Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and Trife da God on the single "Milk Em'", produced by S1. The track made the CMJ college radio charts in July and August 2005. The group had a second CMJ chart topper in 2005 with "The Broke Song". Later that year, S1 and Illmind released a collaboration producer-album titled The Art of One Mind. The band also provided the soundtrack to a Winterfresh gum commercial.
2006 to present
Following the acclaim of their first two albums, and the success of the single "Milk 'Em", SFP were listed in URB magazine's "Next 100", and signed a record deal with Om Records. Their first single on the label, "Soul Clap" b/w "Special", was released in May 2006. The group gained considerable underground hype for their 2006 album The Healing, released in July 2006. The album featured production from S1, as well as Illmind, Jake One and 9th Wonder, and featured guest appearances from Erykah Badu, Little Brother, Darien Brockington and Yahzarah. The Healing was generally well-received, and earned the group "Now Hear This" status on Okayplayer.com. Marisa Brown of Allmusic gave the album a 3.5/5 rating, calling it "an album of solidly good hip-hop". Justin Cober-Lake of PopMatters gave the album 7/10, commenting on its "hopeful, spiritual approach". S1 has continued his production career, signing licensing deals for MTV shows such as Run's House, Trippin' and Yo Momma.
Out of war, friendship and southern heritage come the sounds of Dem Southernfolkz. In 2001, Thomas Benjamin (“Big Ben”) and Rudy Jackson (“Kinfolk Jack”) met as soldiers at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. After sharing similar passions for music, they began a journey which led to the formation of Dem Southernfolkz (“DSFZ”). Focused on producing and promoting quality music, DSFZ set to blend hip-hop culture with easy sounds of jazz and soul music. Motivated by a mutual respect, Big Ben and Kinfolk Jack quickly began making music on a daily basis. It was not long before Dem Southernfolkz' found themselves on their first international tour. Ben and Jack were both deployed to Iraq. However, their military duty was not enough to prevent DSFZ from making music. While at war, the duo would constantly exchange beats and lyrics through e-mail.
Upon returning to Dallas in 2005, the duo met Nathan Wright IV (“Saturday Alridge”) and quickly realized he had a similar ear and integrity for music that brought BigBen and Kinfolk Jack together years before. After many overtures by the duo, Saturday Alridge finally agreed to join DSFZ. Saturday's hesitation was never a question of creative synergy, but more so an internal debate on stepping into the music industry.
Soon after DSFZ added its third member, Ben was called for his second tour in Iraq. Dejavu for Big Ben and Kinfolk Jack , again the group exchanged creative ideas and music via email and ichat. The music that was eventually created is “The Message”, DSFZ’ debut album. “The Message” offers personal insight into their world influenced by the streets, soul and spirit of the south. Just spend 10 minutes with the group and you will understand both their stance on music and philosophy of life; And they’re not afraid to share it with the world!
Member of the group Deepspace5, Sivion is an artist who brings an optimistic soulful vibe to the hip hop art in which he writes, produces, and performs to all who have ears. His music blends jazz and funk with the hip hop culture which is founded on the free gift of expression. Life is the canvas on which he paints pictures of the effects of God in his daily journey to open his heart to the world through music.