Che Smith, also known as Rhymefest, is involved in a Twitter feud with Kim Kardashian West. Rhymefest is an American hip-hop artist from Chicago. He has known Kanye West for several years — they met when they were teenagers — and he co-wrote West’s hit song, “Jesus Walks.”
Rhymefest co-founded the Chicago-area charity, Donda’s House, with his wife, Donnie Smith. The organization helps at-risk youth pursue creative endeavors and increases access to the arts.
Rhymefest and his wife currently live in the South Side of Chicago.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rhymefest & Kardashian West Are in a Twitter Feud
Rhymefest claimed that Kanye West had “abandoned” Donda’s House, the non-profit organization that was founded in honor of West’s late mother, Donda West. Rhymefest called Kanye West out in a series of tweets, asking rapper Drake for help after claiming that West said, “f*ck the youth of Chicago.”
Although Kanye West didn’t respond to the messages, his wife, Kim Kardashian West, responded to Rhymefest in kind.
“[You] haven’t been right since u got kicked out of the studio in Hawaii wearing fake Yeezy’s @RHYMEFEST You’re over [leveraging] Kanye’s name & asked Kanye to donate money to u so stop w your fake community politics & lies. Truth is you haven’t been able to sustain the foundation,” Kardashian West tweeted to Rhymefest, the co-founder of Donda’s House, on May 26.
“I saw you at our studio a few weeks ago so why didn’t you bring this up then @RHYMEFEST ? You were trying to get Kanye to listen to your sub par beats. You have the audacity to use Kanye’s mom name to try to shed a negative light on Kanye,” read another Kardashian West tweet.
A short while later, Rhymefest responded to Kardashian West in an open letter that he posed on Twitter. The post went viral, receiving thousands of “likes” and shares within minutes.
You can read his response below.
2. He Co-Founded Donda’s House With His Wife
Rhymefest is the co-founder of Donda’s House, which was established in 2013. Rhymefest teamed up with his wife, Donnie Smith, to create an organization that “provides unprecedented access and education from leading experts in the music, fashion, and entertainment industry to Chicago’s creative youth and young adults.”
The organization was named after Kanye West’s mother, Dr. Donda West, who passed away in 2007, after suffering a heart attack.
“Long before the rest of the world could pronounce the name of her now iconic son, Kanye West, Dr. Donda West set up a recording studio in her home. She nurtured, supported and encouraged a generation of young artists, who to this day, are brought to tears by the impact she had on their lives,” reads the Donda’s House website.
Rhymefest is currently listed as the non-profit’s creative director and the creative writing instructor.
“Our Creative Director and Che ‘Rhymefest’ Smith, was one of those artists! We honor her legacy by providing a similar familial and safe environment for young creatives, who are imagining a better future for themselves, their families, their communities and our world.”
3. His Wife, Donnie Smith, Was Named a Black Male Achievement Fellow in 2014
In 2006, Rhymefest’s wife, Donnie Smith, graduated from DePaul University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. After college, she worked as an English teacher in the Chicago Public School District. She left her job as a teacher at Whitney Young Magnet High School — First Lady Michelle Obama’s alma mater — in 2014, according to her LinkedIn page.
That same year, Smith was named a Black Male Achievement Fellow by the Echoing Green organization.
“As the child of a crack-cocaine addicted mother, an absent father and a survivor of sexual assault, Donnie realized that programs like the Children’s Defense Fund – Freedom Schools and a host of others exposed her to new opportunities, helped her escape her daily trauma, and empowered her to use her negative experiences as motivation to change her narrative,” reads her bio on the organization’s website.
Smith is currently listed as the Executive Director of Donda’s House.
4. His First Album, ‘Blue Collar,’ Was Released in 2006
Rhymefest released his first album, Blue Collar, in 2006. He has also co-written dozens of songs, including Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” from The College Drop Out, which was released in 2004. The song won the Grammy for Best Rap Song back in 2005.
Rhymefest also co-wrote the song “New Slaves” off of West’s Yeezus album, which was released in 2013. Perhaps his best work to date would be the work that he did on “Glory,” a song from the motion picture Selma. The 2014 song won several awards, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, both for Best Original Song.
In 2015, the song earned him a Critics Choice Award. The following year, “Glory” earned Rhymefest his second Grammy.
5. He’s Been on Several Television Shows, Including ‘Punk’d’ & ‘Driven’ & Ran for Chicago’s City Council in 2011
Over the years, Rhymefest has been on several television shows, including MTV’s Punk’d and VH1’s Driven. He also guest starred in an episode of Wild N’ Out back in 2006.
Rhymefest recorded the song “Brand New” with Kanye West. The tune gained popularity when MTV used it during an episode of their original program, 8th & Ocean.
In addition to his television appearances, Rhymefest dabbled in politics, running for office in Chicago back in 2011.
“A dedicated community leader, social and political organizer, Rhymefest ran for Chicago’s City Council in one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods in 2011. After pushing the incumbent into a run-off and defeating four candidates, he lost by a narrow margin,” reads his IMDb bio, in part.