*When Che ‘ Rhymefest ‘ Smith showed to the Nate Holden Performance Arts theater Thursday , July 28, for the L.A. premiere of PBS’ documentary “All the Difference.” Not only did he ‘slay’ in his rap performance but he grabbed a chair to sit, talk and rhyme.
Smith, the Grammy & Oscar award winning songwriter, also a creative director for Donda’s House— a resource for youth — called for a round of applause from the audience before saying:
“We are in a special time in history and what we do now; the art that we do now, the work that we do now, the way that we interact with each other now – is really going to stand out. Just like the things that we were going through in the 60’s.
Rhymefest added, because of social injustices like police slayings and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement and protest, it’s a pivotal time. A time in which, the artist believes that [Americans] have an opportunity to change things forever.
“We can bring our belief back, we can bring our families back together and we can also bring our communities back together,” he said.
Scroll down to watch the EURweb one-one-one video interview with EURweb associate, Billie Jordan and Che “Rhymefest” Smith below.
His intimate performance complimented the evenings’ main event, a five year documentary of two young men, Krishaun Branch and Robert Henderson, as they journeyed to and through college – from the slums of Chicago.
Interchanging between acappela rhymes and monologues, the rapper discussed world events. He also talked about dealing with various forms of ‘non-belief’ in urban communities: like the belief in the ability for success.
As he continued on with his spiel, Smith compared and contrasted the differences in a child’s life with strong family support and also the lack of it; he compared himself with childhood friends turned mega celebrities: Common, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West. While his wildly successful peers had comparably elite circumstances, he was a fatherless child.
“My mother had me at 15 and I never knew my father. So here you have three guys with the same talent but because – one of these guys never had the same upbringing – because it was a difference in just family setting.
But because of the difference I end up writing for Kanye & Common instead of rapping beside them. “
Rhymefest’s finale performance featured the title song from his upcoming album, “Push the World.” While the music boomed an audience member crooned, ‘Slay!’
“All the Difference actor,” Krishaun Branch told EURweb that after coming from the ghetto of Chicago and dealing with gangs and the problems that plague the Southside of the city, he had to form a study habit and teach himself to focus.
For Branch one source of staying focused was:
“I had to miss out on some fun and I had to understand why I was making the decisions I was making and once I really understood and bought into my own mission – it actually made it a lot easier to avoid going to those parties or avoid going to hang with some guys that I knew was up to no good,” he said. “So just by having that self motivation and knowing what I wanted to do and really setting out to do it – I did it and it made it a lot easier.”
It was a tear jerking event … invitees were young men and women engaged in mentor programs throughout South Los Angeles.
Following Rhymefest’s performance, PBS and its “POV” show premiered one hour of the “All the Difference” documentary.
Afterwards, the actors; Branch and Henderson and also the film makers, including “All the Difference,” executive producer, Joy Thomas Moore and Executive Producer, Wes Moore formed a panel on stage led by Mary Jane Stevenson, Vice President and Director of City Year Los Angeles.
“My friend was crying and I was trying to be strong. I feel like [Krishaun and Robert’s documentary] was speaking for me, too,” said Stevon Anderson, Morehouse student and “All the Difference,” L.A, premiere audience member. “I grew up in Compton and [they] grew up in Chicago. [They’re] just different people in different cities but [their] stories are exactly like mine.”
Later on, Smith told EURweb that because he came from the same neighborhood, he too, knows their story intimately.
“I know them, I know urban prep – the school that they went to very well. [We] have similar stories but we all have different ways of dealing with what we go through in life and the way that Krishaun and Robert dealt with it was getting their education and completing college,” smith said.
“That was there escape from a life of poverty. That was their way of breaking the cycle and so I think it’s important to tell that story that education is a way to break the cycle.”
Another part of breaking the cycle Che Rhymefest Smith said is finding a support group; people who share the same interest. Executive Producer Joy Thomas Moore, shared the same sentiment:
“I think the common thread that we saw with these two young men – and with, I think any young person that succeeds – is the high expectations, Moore said. “As we saw through the film – every step of their journey – we saw men from Urban Prep there along side of them; they were at their graduations, at celebrations, at ceremonies – they were always there. And I think if everyone sort of has higher expectations for young people or at least higher than what we have normally – then more kids will succeed.”
Executive Producer Wes More said he wants the world to appreciate the importance of completion. He believes that completing college has to be taken more seriously.
“One thing I’m always fascinated by… people are always saying college and completing higher education isn’t that important – people don’t need it anymore. And I always find it interesting because a lot of people use the same names.
“They’ll say well Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have a college degree, Steve Jobs doesn’t have a college degree, Bill Gates doesn’t have a college degree and the response I always have is ‘listen if Facebook flopped or if Apple just remained a fruit. Steve Jobs would have been OK, Mark Zuckerberg would have been good,'” More said.
“For all of us on this stage for so many people that are here and so many of the students that we work with that’s not their truth. If you take away a college degree, if you take a way college access and all of the things that come along with higher education from each and every one of us – everyone of our stories is different. Not one of our stories is the same.”
Regarding completing college, Smith agreed that graduating is one way to change circumstances and he added that it’s important to come back to the community and support others and rebuild.
“We have to stop trying to escape. There is no escape,” Smith said.
Regarding if urban community members should leave their home communities, Che Rhymefest Smith said:
“I’ll give you a perfect example of the greatest person that black people know of – to do that – [There] was a guy named Jesus of Nazareth… You have to go out and see the world, you have to know what’s out there and you have to experience things that you can bring back.”
Video News story: Che ” Rhymefest ” Smith shows to L.A. “All the Difference” Premiere in Top Form
EURweb on the Scene: “All the Difference” Executive Producer, Wes Moore
About “All the Difference”
The largely invisible and often crushing struggles of young African-American men come vividly — and heroically — to life in “All the Difference,” which traces the paths of two teens from the South Side of Chicago who dream of graduating from college.
Statistics predict that Robert Henderson and Krishaun Branch will drop out of high school, but they have other plans. Oscar®-nominated producer/director Tod Lending’s (“Legacy,” “Omar & Pete”) intimate film, executive produced by New York Times bestselling author Wes Moore, follows the young men through five years of hard work, sacrifice, setbacks and uncertainty. As they discover, support from family, teachers and mentors makes all the difference in defying the odds.
“All the Difference” airs as part of the POV (Point of View) documentary series, on PBS September 12, 2016. Now in its 29th season, POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series and the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.
All the Difference Trailer