Hip-hop artist Rhymefest stresses collective change


Lily Smith

Che "Rhymefest" Smith speaks in the IMU Main Lounge on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2017. Smith's keynote address was part of the 2018 MLK Celebration of Human Rights Week. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Christopher Borro, [email protected]

Che “Rhymefest” Smith visited the IMU on Tuesday evening to discuss how hip-hop and collectivity can enable social change, praising the music style for its ability to transcend cultural differences and unite people around the world.

“We always looked at music as a way to make communal change, just like Dr. King,” he said.

After King’s assassination, he said, it was a long time before people could make music that focused on issues besides civil rights and the Vietnam War.

He praised hip-hop for its inclusivity. “Hip-hop has gone global, taught people how to dress, and dance, and think, because it … isn’t controlled by the system. Hip-hop is a worldwide revolution,” he said.

During his speech as the keynote speaker for the UI Martin Luther King Week, Smith, a charity founder, political activist, and musical artist, talked politics and promoted ideals of collectivity and the power of the written and spoken word.

He also discussed experiences that affected him throughout his life, and recent and upcoming film projects that he’s a part of, including *In My Father’s House*, the story of how he reconnected with his estranged father after discovering the latter had been homeless for more t han three decades.

“You start healing by loving, and forgiving, and searching for different pieces of yourself in different places,” Smith said.

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