Rappers have been making political messages ever since DJ Kool Herc had the “Boogie Down Bronx” going crazy in the late 70’s. As hip-hop scholar Bakari Kitwana notes in his book Hip Hop Generation “[people born in the hip-hop generation]worldview has been shaped by globalization, legalized de-segregation, public policy in the criminal justice system that has clear racial implications.” Even in the age of Obama there are glaring disparities that exist in urban communities all over the country. Che Smith, better known as grammy award winning song writer and rapper Rhymefest , is gearing up to fight the power . He won’t be doing it by throwing a trashcan through a window either. On the Southside of Chicago in a ward notorious for gangbanging and violence, Rhymefest is looking to remix Democracy by running for 20th ward alderman. Although Smith co-wrote Jesus Walks he knows that it will take more than prayer to deal with the series of public policy issues in the ward such as gentrification and crime.
The marriage of hip-hop and politics has always been steady and monogamous, but rappers like Ryhmefest are helping to renew the vows. Although hip-hop has traditionally been eschewed by the political establishment Rhymefest believes that hip-hop can speak to many disenchanted citizens, “Hip-hop has often been presented as a weapon of the community, but it’s not. It’s a tool.” The power for music to incite movements has never been questioned, artists from Willie Nelson to Ice Cube have used their songs to speak to social justice issues. However, Rhymefest’s run for alderman is setting a precedent for hip-hop heads all over to infiltrate the system and give it a brand new outlook.