A handful of hits from Chi-City
On Che Smith’s second Rhymefest full-length, he showcases the lyrical precision and rhythmic diversity that won him a Grammy for co-writing “Jesus Walks” with fellow Chicago native Kanye West. “City is Fallen” is all molasses brass and smooth jazz, while the drum-and-808 throbs of “Give It To Me” could rattle a root cellar; meanwhile, his verses slide between snide (“Shoulda hollered at him when he was young and hot / You’ll never have what Michelle Obama’s got”) and passionate (“Fighting off contentment, I have a long way to go”). But El Che is all about Rhymefest the rapper, not Rhymefest the writer (“Wrote some Kanye records / Next Grammy’s just mine / This is El Che’s record,” he raps on “Talk My Shit”) and the disc suffers for it. Though prolific with tracks and mixtapes, Smith still hasn’t mastered the LP form; though excellent, this feels more like a discombobulated collection of singles than a cohesive album.