In this SOHH Exclusive, Chicago emcee Rhymefest reveals his suicidal thoughts and explains how internet leaks of his upcoming sophomore album caused him to go back to the drawing board.

Last summer, tracks from Rhymefest’s sophomore J Records release, El Che, hit the internet prematurely. According to the rapper, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“I’m kinda happy that stuff go leaked and I got a chance to look at it from the outside in,” he told SOHH. “I’m like you know what, this is an opportunity for me to go back in and do something that I feel like can move people and not just make a statement.”

Fest decided to throw out most of the material that he had recorded for the album and to start from scratch with songs that he thinks will have a more powerful effect on his fans. One such song is, “Familiar Faces” which tackles the subject of suicide.

Rhymefest told SOHH that he recently went through a very tough period, where his future on J Records was uncertain and the puppet show that he was planning with Kanye West was at risk of falling through. This caused him to seriously consider taking his own life.

“I was dealing with suicidal thoughts at one point not too long ago,” Fest said. “I was dealing with things where I was literally on the top of a building looking down like why should I not jump? Why should I not f*cking just end it?”

In the end, Rhymefest decided that he had more to offer the world and rededicated himself to fighting ignorance in his community. “How can you make an album calling yourself Che, a revolutionary, and take your life because things are hard for you? You ain’t here for you. You ain’t doing it for you.”

The original version of El Che featured songs with Lil’ Jon, DJ Premier, Jadakiss and Kayne but Fest is now considering stripping away the features to deliver the message that he feels so strongly about on his own.

“I may take away the big names,” he said. “I think what I may do is just be Rhymefest. Man, either you gon’ feel this story or not.”

“People know who Rhymefest is, at this point I really don’t need a cosign,” he added. “What I need is my own hit.  What I need is to not ride coattails. Look, I got Mark Ronson around me, Kanye around me. Yo, if I can’t pull off a song by myself or an album by myself, maybe I don’t need to be doing this sh*t.”

El Che is scheduled to be released on J in 2009.