Chicago hip-hop artist and activist Che “Rhymefest” Smith, who collaborated with Kanye West on the Grammy-winning track “Jesus Walks,” has plans to turn the Life Of Pablo rapper’s childhood home into a South Shore arts incubator. Smith and West are the board of Donda’s House, a non-profit arts instruction center dedicated to West’s late mother, Dr. Donda West. And it’s through that organization that Smith plans to establish Lite-Houses, which will offer arts instructions to kids nationwide, beginning with West’s South Shore home.
Smith’s passionate about investing in his community and showing the “bright spots” that have had funds “divested from” them: “[W]e know more lights exist here, they just need to be activated.” These civic interests aren’t recent; he’s advocated for greater resources in Chicago’s blighted neighborhoods, and even run for alderman of the South Side ward. The first Lite-House will feature “a state of the art recording studio, [and] a curriculum space for Donda’s House and South Side music museum.” Donda’s House is raising funds online for the arts incubator, though there’s no projected date on construction or completion. Billboard has a great new profile of Smith out right now, in which he talks politics, his time in New York, and his relationship with the Wests.