The People vs. Public Transportation

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Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 is slated to be released June 5th and followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe

Every week in I'm Just A Rapper, Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.

There was once a chapter in my life that deeply relied on public transportation, and I am still known to catch the MetroLink from time to time without shame.

When I first started rapping I relied on the Metro bus to get me back and forth to the studio. For a brief spell in my life I would buy an all-day train ticket and sleep on the MetroLink during the day when I had no place to technically call home. I truly appreciate the St. Louis public transportation system. I've caught the bus to shows and rode the Metro Link to hip-hop battles. I often used my time to on the bus to clear my head and memorize my lyrics. The public transportation system has played a huge role in my musical career.

Things have changed for me on a few levels these days and I often reflect back to those hunger years. The Metro bus helped me shape the worldview I instilled in my music. I would ride the bus and venture into portions of this city I had previously never seen. The public transportation system me has shown me a version of St. Louis many will never see. Fist fights, knife fights, robbery, gambling, gunshots, you name it I've witnessed it or experienced it thanks to public transportation.

I don't care to go too deeply into this story, but I was assaulted by a group of guys with box cutters at the Central West End MetroLink station. I ran home with blood all over my shirt and discovered I had been cut by one of the box cutters. I tell my friends all the time, "When you drove by the bus stop in your car, I was probably right there standing with some of the craziest people in the world." I depended on the bus to get me back and forth to work.

But I believe public transportation can be valuable. The conversations people have on the bus about the things currently going on in today's world are amazing. I and many other people have always said there is no bus line the country like the Grand bus. Riding it is like having an open invitation to the crazy people party bus. The Natural Bridge bus is its own living reality television show.

When you're running late and a person runs the bus down and holds the driver for you, they are suddenly humanized. When the bus driver shows you a little compassion by giving you directions when you're lost, your heads nods with gratitude. A subtle reminder dawns upon you, and we suddenly remember everyone isn't heartless. Riding Metro has put my life in danger but it also helped save my life. Metro is very unique transit system, which strives off of buses and transits trains carrying St. Louisans to work, sporting events, summer concerts and weekend parties.

In the summertime the heat can be troublesome as you wait for the bus or train, but it's still bearable. However, in the wintertime catching any form of Metro is flat-out torture if you're a regular rider. As a regular rider using MetroLink for survival I was kind of annoyed on the days the train would be filled to capacity from Cardinals and Blues fans heading back and forth to the downtown area.

Metro, however, loves these people and they rightfully should because all parties help keep the system alive. Since the start of the column I've been searching for subject that relates directly to St. Louisans without going too deep into politics or music minutiae only a handful of people would understand.



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