Lessons I Learned From Nelly

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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 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. Get War Machine 2 here.

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

Nelly's music has the ability to resonate with several different types of crowds. The hood and the hillbillies combined show love to the him. He has songs with Gucci Mane, Tim McGraw, and Rick Ross. It's difficult to apply a lane to this type of versatility. Rocking a capacity crowd of thousands of people on the outside stage downtown in your hometown is a major look for a hip-hop artist.

My team uses situations like this to inspire us to work harder. The desire to play ball with the big boys is often our fuel. We just organized, promoted and funded one of the biggest local hip-hop shows of the summer at the Gramophone. We could probably walk around on Cloud Nine for a few days. We have some of the most loyal fans you could ask for in the underground. Reality check though: Nelly shut the entire summer down in the blink of an eye with his concert. This right here is some serious motivation if ever I needed it.

I remember when Country Grammar dropped, I saw his first video, and I was beyond amped. We're talking about rappers dressing like us, repping our neighborhoods, etc. I had never witnessed anything quite like it being from St. Louis, so I was proud. I felt inspired more than ever even though I was too young to completely understand my place in hip-hop. It seemed like everywhere you went it was our time as a city. Things were on the incline, the Rams had suddenly become the dream team of football. There was a certain level of electricity surrounding our wonderful city. I saw Nelly and the Tic's on MTV performing at the VMA's. My younger brother and I were high fiving each other with total glee.

Before this, realistically, rappers didn't come from St. Louis and make it to MTV. The St. Lunatic album dropped, and it had more than a few jams on it.I was in the U-City Loop the day they filmed the Air Force Ones video. My friend Brooklyn Mike owned a poster shop next door to the shoe store they rented for the shoot.The world famous Mannie Fresh came into the poster shop and bought a few posters. He had Gillie the Kid and Baby aka Birdman with him. I was young and this right here was probably the most amazing thing I had ever seen in life at this point. The Loop was filled with famous people and not so famous people that were attached to famous people that day.St.Louis officially transformed into the real life version of Rap City.

Kyjuan from the St. Lunatics told me forty-five to fifty thousand people went to the show last weekend. I knew the numbers would be high but this is insane. No other group of rappers in this city can do those numbers in similar circumstances. This taught me our focal point should be the world and not the city.This is something I already knew and lived by but sometimes you need a little bit of confirmation.

I performed in Kansas City at the Record Bar this week in front of a crowd that was full of energy and a few people who were familiar with my music. It felt good to be on stage in a city that wasn't home yet still had a decent perception of who I am as an artist. The world famous independent hip-hop icon Tech N9ne was in the audience, and after the show we had a brief conversation. He shook my hand and said some very motivational words to me.The next day he mentioned me on twitter.

I came home and destroyed the Gramophone in front of a capacity crowd of people losing their minds and moshing in front of the stage. My partner in rhyme Rockwell Knuckles released his newest body of work entitled Take Me To Your Leader this Friday as well. I had a great week and a fantastic weekend. After the madness of my show the smoke settled, and I realized there was a Nelly concert on Saturday. I had people in town from New York and business to handle on my end so I didn't get to attend the concert. I haven't really talked about it too much publicly but I have a lot of respect for Nelly. I'm always over-analyzing things so somehow I came to the conclusion that Nelly having a concert this weekend was the universe's way of showing me that there are always higher plateaus to climb. My crew was blessed enough to rock the same stage as opening acts for BBD, Common and Lupe Fiasco in front of the St. Louis Arch. The key word in this sentence is "opening act."

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