So, what we decided to do is put Violence Is Sexy on pause because we are creating a non-profit record label that isn't about capitalism, selling records and how much I can be an individual. It's a collective. We're going to take the label and connect it to the curriculum of Donda's House. So if we're teaching them a 12-week curriculum that comes from Kanye [West]'s mom Dr. Donda West, we would like for them to have the opportunity after the class is over and they graduate to have a fellowship with this record label. It won't be about how many records they sell, it's going to be about how powerfully their music connects. We want them to tour shanty towns in South Africa then come back to Englewood with creative solutions and experience and music. And I think that this project does more for the world than my one album.
Rhymefest: To get into Donda's House you have to come to an oral interview, you have to perform, you have to show that you can be proficient. When you, or if you, make it into Donda's House-we have about 300 every season apply and only 30 can make it because of funding-we bring artists into these curriculums. This year we had No I.D., GLC, Killer Mike. We have them come in and we actually give them curriculum to teach. So the participants, who are all 15 through 24 years old, are always very excited about coming to class because they don't know who's teaching that day.
We give them assignments and grade them. Based on those assignments they pass or they have to repeat the course. Kanye, who's on our board, delivers tickets every time he's in town. Our fall class got fifty tickets to go see Kanye and Kendrick Lamar backstage at their show. We're working with Roc Nation. We're working on getting [our students] some Jay Z and Beyonce tickets. These young people are fulfilling the curriculum for the incentive of their dream.
Chicagoist: It's great to get to talk to you and get to know the inner workings of such a great program. I think a lot of people know Donda's House exists but they don't know what exactly it does. You actually just reminded me of something else I wanted to get your opinion on because I know you're still close with Kanye. He's always doing something to make people talk but I think it's funny how often people overlook his connection to Donda's House. You hear a lot of criticism lately that he's lost touch with his Chicago roots and that he doesn't care about his hometown anymore. Do you feel like those are false claims?
Let's get it right, Kanye didn't become a rapper to buy all the houses in Englewood. You have to look to someone like Asiaha Butler from R.A.G.E. who works in Englewood every day. We have to put our power behind the people who are right next to us. When we talk about Donda's House, I give Kanye's mother the credit. She was the one at Chicago State, dean of the English department, taking in all these boys into her house and educating us. We didn't have moms. My mom had me at 15. We grew up together. The first responsible woman I ever met was Kanye's mother but who talks about her? We talk about Kanye but we don't talk about the tree. We just talk about the fruit.
So, I don't think that we should look to celebrities to solve problems that are on our end of the street. I believe that celebrities from communities like these have responsibilities in the arts that they product and their influence. However, the work that has to be done, needs to be done by us. Celebrities only want to be famous and once they see us putting points on the board and get people talking, we'll attract celebrities. It's not about the celebrity attracting a community, it's about the community attracting a resource.
Source: http://chicagoist.com/2014/07/02/rhymefest_talks_dondas_house_kanye.php?utm_content=buffer56642&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=bufferChicagoist: That's interesting. So was I wrong in assuming that you are still close with him? You probably don't talk every day but it sounds like you're still working together.
Rhymefest: We talk once a week. I was a nominated for a Grammy this year for co-writing "New Slaves." We still work together, I just believe that we all know how Kanye is. Do you really want Kanye to come and say something that you don't agree with and create all kinds of other attention? I believe that one of the reasons I'm not in Hawaii right now helping Kanye with his new album or wherever he is, is that there's work on the ground that I need to physically do and help to oversee. Celebrities have to be famous. They have to go and be famous, so what Kanye is doing is what celebrities can do: help deliver us the resources to help our efforts on the ground.