Kanye West childhood home to become Community Arts Center

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Kanye West

By Patrice Nkrumah, Chicago Crusader

The home rapper Kanye West grew up in on the South Side has been purchased by his protégé Che “Rhymefest” Smith and will be turned into a community arts center to give young people a place to practice their crafts, it was announced earlier this week. The South Shore home will feature a recording studio among other amenities, according to Rhymefest. He also serves, along with his wife, as the head of Donda’s House, a nonprofit organization that supports young people in Chicago’s creative arts community named after Kanye’s mother Dr. Donda West, who died in 2007.

“We’re building this project to help young people in Chicago deal with the mental trauma and the extreme stress they go through here in the city,” said Rhymefest, who also hosts a weekly talk show on WVON 1690 AM. “His home is one of many we are looking at around the country.”

Che “Rhymefest” Smith
Che “Rhymefest” Smith

Rhymefest said they are interested in getting the homes of Langston Hughes in New York, Miles Davis in Missouri and the Jackson 5 home in Gary, Indiana. There will be curriculum space in the center, in addition to several other amenities. He said young people need positive activities to stay out of trouble and they also need safe places to practice their crafts. He said the arts have always been a good avenue for young people who might not want to go the higher education route.

“We’re seeing the continued slashing of art and music budgets in school systems around the country. It’s up to organizations like ours to help fill this void,” he said.

Other details about the project in Chicago Rhymefest shared included how the facility will also be used as a small concert venue and host a music museum to honor South Side musicians who’ve made it. There will also be several events hosted at the nearby South Shore Cultural Center in conjunction with Donda’s House.

“We want to show bright spots in communities that’ve been divested . . . ,” he said.

Donda’s House will also be moving its headquarters into the building as well. Rhymefest said the organization needs its own space as it has been growing over the years. The organization released the following statement shortly after the announcement was made.

“In order to deepen the organization’s impact, Donda’s House has acquired a home facility that will provide a permanent location for all of the Donda’s House family to gather, offer programming, and grow. Donda’s House envisions this facility as not only a homegrown hub of economic activity for the South Side, but also a gathering place for the community with events and concerts,” the statement read.

Dr. Donda West was an English professor for many years at Chicago State University. She died on Nov. 10, 2007 due to complications from cosmetic surgery. For more information and to find out services offered by the organization, you can visit their website at Dondashouseinc.org.

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