The Manual: Hopping Out of the Music Business? El Che’s Review…

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the manualI know my latest entry is a day and a half late, but it took that much time for me to honestly and constructively evaluate my own project “The Manual.” With a powerful intro titled “Who Is Che?” I am convinced that not all great things on albums have to come from just the music itself. This intro really prepares the listener for the experience that they are about to dive into. Funny, intelligent, and ferocious. “Damn, this is like playing the lawyer and the witness.” But let’s continue shall we?

The first song “The Coolness,” is a joint I wanted to do, long before I thought of the idea of doing a Golden Era Pre-Album. I just always thought that the drums on the old MC Lyte “Paper Thin” were dope as hell. My favorite songs on the album are “Party 4 Free” which was at the beginning of the CD at first, until Konee Rok and Shadowkat persuaded me to put it further down, which I think now was a mistake, because people seem to be gravitating toward that song in particular. “Think About It!” even though I never know what the hell Sadat X is talking about, it always sounds so good. How many rappers can do that? “Pulls Me Back” because of its visual and emotional narrative. I’ve heard a few fans say that they love “Goin In” featuring Queen Latifah, even though they feel as though she burned me on my own fucking song. That’s cool with me, I’d rather get schooled by a legend than one of these new little radio friendly arrogant niggas.

Listening to “The Manual” helps me to realize more of who and what I really am as an artist. Underground, mainstream, cult-like, and maybe not even an artist at all. So many things wrapped in one. It’s no wonder most people can gravitate to an action figure like 50 or a smooth-Don like Jay-Z, or the dope dealer like Jeezy. These artists usually represent one message to their listener. Rhymefest while not wack, may indeed be too complex.

Interesting to note though, before “The Manual” was dropped, I released both “Supersonic (Chucky Cheese)” and “Exodus 5.1.” In one day, the CH diss, garnered 15,000 downloads. “Exodus”, which is a far better song to me garnered only 6,000. I’m learning quick that ya’ll mothafuckas love drama.

Scram Jones who produced and helped to direct the majority of the album’s flow has one of the most bi-polar ears in music. He’ll start one song, stop it, and just flip to a whole nother track and say “Let’s do this one.” In the middle of recording that track,  he’ll stop and say “No, we should be doing this one.” You would think that it would be annoying, but I like that type of pace because it keeps the mind constantly moving as to not feel boredom. He’s so talented, that my admiration of him cannot be put into words. Here is a white boy that raps, DJs and produces better than a lot of people who only do one of those things. Every night before we got started, he and I would actually freestyle battle to warm up. I must admit, he caught me out there maybe once. My most manliest moment on this album, I would have to say is my verse on “Deals a Deal” feat. CL Smooth and Haffa. “A deals a deal/a mans a man/ your words your word/ and you gone know where I stand,” describes me as a person best. Actually, between “Man in the Mirror” and “The Manual,” I am really considering not making records to sell anymore. Yes, that’s right. Hopping out of the record “business” and just making music to give away. In my current situation with “El Che,” I honestly don’t know when it’s going to drop. There is so much red tape concerning J. Records and what they think will be profitable and when. You, the fans, shouldn’t have to wait for that. So in the spirit of revolution, I will never keep you waiting as long as you have been for more Rhymefest music.  Out of five stars, I give “The Manual” four and a half.

Filed in: Commentary • Thursday, April 9th, 2009

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Che Smith is a revolutionary artist, writer, and activist. Popularly known as Rhymefest, the South Side Chicago native has been a trailblazer in music, television, and politics.