At first glance, last Tuesday's election results might look disappointing for Che "Rhymefest" Smith, the Grammy-winning rapper turned aldermanic candidate. Rhymefest won 1,480 votes in the 20th Ward race, for just shy of 20 percent of the vote. Incumbent Ald. Willie Cochran won more than twice that total.
But Cochran's 46 percent of the vote total wasn't enough to avoid a runoff, and with 'Fest in second place, the race will come down to those two men on April 5.
In fact, Smith saw the election results in just the opposite light. "What we know is that 54 percent of the people voted against the incumbent," he said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In an effort to unite those 54 percent behind his candidacy, Smith's three other opponents -- George E. Davis, Andre Smith, and Sid Shelton -- all lined up to endorse him at a City Hall event Tuesday. "We have a common objective, and that objective is to improve the quality of life for residents of the 20th Ward and wards like that around Chicago," said Davis in endorsing Rhymefest.
Meanwhile, the rapper addressed Cochran's critique, repeated recently, that his lyrics were degrading and showed him incapable of leadership in the ward. "When you're in a position where you influence people and you use it to bring a scorn on our society and you promote get your gun, promote calling people bitches, promote treating people like that ... what makes him think he should make decisions for the community?" Cochran said to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Of course, in the hip-hop world, Rhymefest is widely considered a "conscious" rapper concerned with social justice and the issues of the community. The Sun-Times also quotes music critic Jim DeRogatis on Rhymefest's music:
"Rhymefest is one of the most conscience-filled, moral, and inspiring artists in the history of hip-hop," said music critic Jim DeRogatis, a Columbia College English professor. "He could have sold 4 million albums had he pandered to the violence and the sexism, and he never did. He settled for selling 500,000 because he isn't about disrespecting women or shooting drugs or having a gun."
And Smith himself took a moment to address Cochran's concerns. Watch his comments below, courtesy of NBC Chicago:
View more videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com.