Campus Involvement

A Conversation with Rhymefest 9/18/13, 6-7:30pm at Rackham

The Center for Campus Involvement is proud to partner with Hip Hop Congress and The Black Student Union to host “Bars Against Bars: Hip Hop For Change (A Conversation With Rhymefest)”.

Date: Wednesday, September 18
Time: 6:00pm-7:30pm
Location: Rackham Amphitheatre

This event is sponsored by Hip Hop Congress, The Black Student Union, Center for Campus Involvement, Department of African American Studies, American Culture Department, Jazz Department, Arts at Michigan, and Center for World Performance Studies.


After much success with last year’s Hip Hop Congress lecture event featuring 9th Wonder, they decided to continue with their educational lecture series. This year's focus is on the use of Hip Hop as a tool for social change. To accomplish that goal Hip Hop Congress is calling on a veteran of the music industry in Che “Rhymefest” Smith.

Rhymefest is a Grammy Award-winning “raptivist” (rapper/activist) from Chicago, Illinois. He made a name for himself by defeating world famous Detroit rapper, Eminem, in a rap battle. In addition to winning a Grammy for co-writing “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West, Rhymefest stays very active in his community. He has become an ambassador for Hip Hop after meeting with David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to discuss the violent nature of rap lyrics and testifying before Congress defending artists’ rights. Rhymefest ran for Chicago City Council and lost to the incumbent in a very close runoff election, but that didn’t stop him from making a difference. He is currently working on a 10-week arts program for Chicago youth focused on physical fitness and creative writing with longtime friend, Kanye West.

Rhymefest will bring attention to several things that are impacting the Hip Hop community. In particular, “Bars Against Bars: Hip Hop For Change” will address the relationship between Hip Hop culture and the prison industrial complex. Hip Hop often takes the blame for many societal ills, but Hip Hop is not the problem. It is a symptom of much larger injustices. Rhymefest will call attention to these issues and highlight ways to affect change.

With current events such as the reelection of President Obama and the George Zimmerman trial, race in America has been in the spotlight during the past year. We believe that music is one of the few things that transcends race. At its core Hip Hop is social commentary. Rhymefest will explore the ways that he has taken his art beyond social commentary and used it as an educational tool in his community.