50-Plus St. Louis Hip-Hop Artists You Should Know
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 was released this Tuesday, June 5th and will be 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.
St. Louis is overflowing with talented musical artists. It's always my goal to elevate our city's hip-hop music in general and not just my own personal profile. I decided this week I wanted to talk about the St. Louis emcee's I actually listen to. I desire to pay homage to the music I actually have in my mp3 player from St. Louis-bred talent.
In the beginning I felt as if typing this blog would be offensive to some so I hesitated to do so. I am not a professional journalist. I am writing this entry from the perspective of myself as a fan. I am a human being with his very own personal likes and dislikes.
I spent days racking my brain trying to not exclude anyone who deserves to be mentioned. I am just a fan that listens to hip-hop and desires to tell others about some of the amazing artists my journey within the culture has led me to. I am a product of the local scene. Everything about my persona was created by the St. Louis music scene and the fans that keep it alive. I'm not going to mention these artists in any particular order.
This isn't a poll or a best of competition but more so a simple blog educating the readers about a few artists from St. Louis they might enjoy. If you're currently a fan of these specific artists then keep following them and pushing their music. I can only write about the music I've been introduced to and most of these artists did it the old fashioned way. As a fan I seek to understand the person and the music in one package. The battle to launch a career from our city starts and ends with the fans.
This is simply my way of paying homage to the acts that I listen to and respect musically. My opinion is not worth a wooden nickel. I hope this will inspire all of us to keep pursuing our goals while using the utmost forms of diligence and respect for each other. I don't want to be accused of covertly promoting people I'm cool with, so I won't express my thoughts about people like Rockwell Knuckles, Vandalyzm, Family Affair, Corey Black and Black Spade. I feel like all those guys are geniuses in there own right, and I could spend an entire blog breaking down how talented they actually are. Hopefully if all goes well I will be able to do a sequel to this blog and include the artists that slipped through the cracks on this go around. So with no further delay, here it is:
T. Prince I featured him on my mixtape Power Over Everything ("Inner City Blues" feat T. Prince). This guy is like Biggie meets Nas meets Lupe. I've never heard a wack verse from him, period. His aura onstage says rap star all over it. He is probably one of my favorite rappers on the planet. He mixes street anthems with tales of black consciousness in a very untouchable way. He can write a party song or club record with some of the slickest dialogue you'll ever hear. He has a ridiculous imagination and can tell a story overflowing with the most vivid descriptions. He has every component needed to be the GOAT in any city he resides in. His crew is equally talented: One of the standout members is Trig, a young guy who writes infectious hooks and also produces.
Doorway (L-Gifted, Whiteout, RT-Faq, S.D). To me Doorway is an important crew because they basically became a portal for anything going on over the bridge. Through them I was introduced to the music of Aurelius the Saint, LMNOP and countless other acts from across the water. Doorway stands out to me primarily because of the quality of their music and the unity these guys display amongst each other. L-Gifted is like the wise older spirit in a young man's body. RT-Faq is a natural born performer onstage and his presence often helps legitimize the team. S.D. is their go-to guy when it comes to touching the club scene and street music demographic. I feel like Whiteout is the Method Man of their crew. He's not the leader necessarily but he wears almost any hat needed to get the job done.
Aurelius The Saint One conversation with Aurelius and his positive demeanor just spills over into your spirit. His music is layered with rich messages challenging the listener to think differently. He hails from the east side but isn't heavy on club music and even though he's a bit of a conscious rapper he has discovered a way to appeal to the masses. I sense that he could easily have chosen another route, but due to life experiences and past circumstances he has chosen to take the high road. He recently opened for legendary Southern rapper Devin the Dude. Aurelius The Saint's music is very mature and reality based.
Legend Camp The St. Lunatics, Family Affair, Bits N Pieces, Scripts N Screwz, Midwest Avengers and Legend Camp. These are the St. Louis rap groups with eternal reputations to me. Legend Camp a.k.a. LC is a two-man group consisting of Fresh Voice and X-Luger. LC is armed with one of the most amazingly synced hip-hop stage shows you'll ever see. Fresh Voice is sort of like the voice of reasoning, sprinkling hyped energetic conscious profanity free vibes into his verses. X-Luger does the same but somehow adds a more hardened edge to his approach. Something about X-Luger makes me believe he's done it all and seen it all. Fresh Voice is like the wise shogun at the top of the mountain. I have never encountered a rap group quite like Legend Camp. What if you took the skill level and down-to-earth demeanor of Murphy Lee and mixed it with the message of Stic. man from Dead Prez? The St. Louis underground breaks down into many different scenes and these guys are basically respected in each sector.
Thi'sl DJ Drama coined one of my favorite hip-hop music terms "quality street music." Thi'sl creates this kind of music all while placing his own spin on it. Most rappers in his position never lived the life they speak on. Every rapper isn't a gangster and every gangster isn't a rapper. Somehow when the two components meet in the right light they can create a masterpiece. Thi'sl has made a commitment to change his lifestyle and not endorse the madness that he helped give birth to in the St. Louis streets. Some would consider him a gospel rapper. I myself consider him and independent Missouri powerhouse in the making. Thi'sl has charted on iTunes and spawned a nationwide underground movement with zero major cosigns. He made a song about his hatred for crack cocaine and followed its release with a jaw dropping video. His brand of street music is exactly what our city needs. He manages to speak the truth without preaching to the listener.
OOOPS This guy is unique for several reasons. He reps the Southside, has a reputation for being a fierce battle emcee and can create top 40 records with ease. He has his own following and has worked hard to become a household name in the club scene. He has also worked with the likes of Wacka Flocka. OOOPS has a stage show that can easily be considered one of the best you'll ever see. His musical range and talent are hard to match.
Prince EaOne of best lyricist in the Midwest, period. Ea has a ridiculous fan base and truthfully with the right moves on the business end of things it's only a matter of time for him.
He writes thought provoking punchlines, and his verses are overflowing with content. Ea has somehow transformed into a marketing genius on a certain level. His "Make Smart Cool Movement" reaches as far as Australia and beyond. He is certainly one of the Lou's brightest up and coming prospects. I respect him because he has real accomplishments attached to his name and understands the power of branding.
Tag Team A very energetic group of young men still in high school but shooting for the stars. One of the problems with local groups is they seem to have trouble developing a fan base and actively engaging with them. For the staff of development and and crew members behind Tag Team this is not a problem. I've heard rumors about their stage show even though I've yet to see them live for myself. They have a buzz and a following that is all their own. I recently saw them in the middle of the street on Natural Bridge with billboards and posters promoting themselves and selling CD's. You have to respect die-hard efforts such as this.
Kenny Knox He's living everything he raps about. His recent joint about Trayvon Martin is one of the dopest songs I've ever heard from a St. Louis artist. Kenny Knox is a street artist some might classify as gangster rap. I dig his music because it's raw, uncut and legit. He's one of those artists that could start a movement simply with his voice. You take Chuck D. add a little bit of Jeezy and a pinch of Tupac and the outcome is Kenny Knox.
Saint O St. Louis is known for making club music. Let's make no mistake about it: this is nothing to be ashamed of as long as it's done right. The thing is Saint O. does this form of music all while rapping with the ferocity of a beast. He is known almost as much for his personal grind as much as he is known for his music. Ninety nine percent of the rappers attempting to do what this man does are complete trash. He has a natural aura that spells stardom. He relies on his work ethic and lyricism to spread the acclaim of his music. I always say a good rapper can introduce you to a universe you never knew existed. Some kind of way Saint O. discovered a gap in the defense and exploited it. His latest mixtape Flawless Victory contains features from his always animated partner in rhyme M-Eazy and Slim Dunkin R.I.P.)