Who: In 1997, this Chicago Southsider beat Eminem in a freestyle battle at Scribble Jam, a giant hip-hop festival in Cincinnati, and last year the rapper scored a Grammy for co-penning Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.”

What’s the Deal: Rhymefest has been rapping in Chi-Town for years, and his major-label debut, Blue Collar, nods to this fact by paying tribute to the his persistent work ethic. On “More” (featuring Kanye West), the smooth-spitting MC meditates on trying hard, achieving success, and still wanting more. Citizen Cope, Mario, and Q-Tip are among other heavyweights lending their vocals on the album, and the late O.D.B. joins Rhymefest on the Biz Markie-inspired rendition of the Temptations’ classic, “Build Me Up.”

Fun Fact: Rhymefest’s “Devil’s Pie” samples the Strokes’ “Someday,” turning the uber-hip garage rock staple into a rolling hip-hop track about struggling to pay the bills. JULIA SIMON

Now Hear This: Rhymefest – “Brand New (feat. Kanye West)” WINDOWS MEDIA HIGH | LOW

Rhymefest – “Dynomite” WINDOWS MEDIA HIGH | LOW

Talk: Does Rhymefest make you want to pop your blue collar? COMMENT

On the Web: rhymefest.com


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