April 17, 2015

Kim Bellware  Associate Chicago Editor

Before Kanye was a stage-crashing, Kim-lovingglobe-trotting hip-hop superstar (and tabloid fixture), he was a fellow Chicago rapper who wanted to jump Che "Rhymefest" Smith for talking smack, Smith recalled on HuffPost Live Thursday.

The two men would go on to become friends and collaborators, winning a Grammy in 2005 for co-writing the track "Jesus Walks."

"He's the same guy -- just a lot richer and a little more outrageous," Smith told HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri.

These days, Smith and West are still friends who collaborate on not just music but also philanthropy: Smith is the creative director for Donda's House, the artist development program for Chicago youth that West co-founded and named after his late mother, Donda West.

"I think one of the great things about the people we work with from Chicago is that we all come from a similar -- even though we come from different backgrounds -- we have a similar struggles," Smith said.

In addition to his childhood friendship with West, Smith talked about growing up without his father, later as an adult finding him homeless on the street and ultimately forgiving him for his years of absence, chronicled in the documentary "In My Father's House," which debuted Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Watch the full clip of Rhymefest's moving interview on HuffPost Live.