Rhymefest, "El Che"

Album Review

Chicago-based rapper Rhymefest had a good year in 2004 after winning a Grammy Award for co-writing Kanye West's "Jesus Walks," which hit No. 2 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. He may remind listeners of this achievement a little too much during his second album, "El Che," but luckily there's enough fresh material to balance it out. Rhymefest opens the record with "Talk My Shit," aggressively rapping, "Wrote some Kanye Records/Next Grammy just mine/This is El Che's record," and on "Truth On You" he mimics critics by penning, "Kanye done took that 'Jesus Walks' money and ran the hell off." But the rapper's lyric writing shines when he rhymes about other personal issues. Backed by horns on the funk-inspired "Prosperity," he calls out televangelists who charge people to get closer to God and gets emotional while opening up about his child custody issues on the slow jam "City is Falling." But Rhymefest is most honest on standout track "Chicago," where he strikes a chord when he offers, "Here take my soul, my heart/My suicide thoughts/My religion, my God." -- Gabriella Landman