Performing at LouFest Pulled Me Out of a Depressive Slump

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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 project The Hero Killer was released on January 21 and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For the Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.

Tech Supreme and I had a late night session Wednesday evening, which isn't typically uncommon when we're in the studio working. We started at 10 p.m. with the simple process of playing a bunch of tracks and trying to figure out where we wanted to go with our creative energies. Lately we've been collaborating a lot with a very talented singer we met on tour this year by the name of Sarah Michelle. She has a unique voice and very specific style of her own. You'll definitely hear more about her in the future when we start releasing these new records.

See Also: Our complete LouFest Coverage

When I arrived at Tech's spot, Sarah was there waiting and Corey Black was also pulling up. I recorded a freestyle over St.Louis area-based rapper Pretty Tony's instrumental for his single "Retire Me A Stripper" and then we proceeded to work on one of Tech's tracks. We recorded a song I happen to like a lot, so needless to say I'm in a great mood at the moment. I'm also currently on two gianormous Adderal pills, so I can't go to sleep. It's currently 6:34 a.m., so my insanity levels are super raging. The later I stay up, the more out of control the things I say in this column typically are.

I was about to prep myself to finish the original blog I started writing this week, slandering the black church for being a ghost of its former greatness, but I decided this week to press pause and actually process a few things concerning my very own life. My crew and I are fresh off the heels of our performance at LouFest. We had the time of our lives and it was an experience I shall remember for life. We've had the honor of rocking some pretty large shows, but I wanted to totally take advantage of this opportunity since the bulk of the responsibility for our performance would be on my shoulders.

Last year we probably weren't anywhere near being but this year we rocked the stage and created quite a moment for ourselves and our fans. We all felt good about being there and our energy levels were extremely positive. Hip-hop of my nature usually doesn't get a shot at LouFest but we unapologetically outworked all of you bastards. A few of the city's smartest tastemakers took notice and here we are. I knew once I was booked for this show I'd need some help and I am so grateful the universe and (B.Money) connected me with a band I've always been a fan of by the name of DOWNSTEREO.

These guys embraced me like a brother and welcomed me into their world with ease. We rehearsed for this gig for weeks upon weeks at a time because we wanted to exceed expectations. My music has never been interpreted by a band with the exception of my song "Showstealers," which was played live by a marching band at a News Year Eve party at the Pageant a few years ago.

The premise of my column on this blog is based on honesty. People read this column because they know I'm telling the absolute, unadulterated truth about how I feel in relation to whatever topic we are discussing. So the truth is, prior to my performance at LouFest I was battling a bout with depression. I'm a musician, I'm a artist --- it comes and goes and throughout my life I've had to learn to manage it. I love making music and I intend on recording music until I die, even if it ceases to be my career of choice.

But the business side of this occupation is harsh and unforgiving. I'm learning to man up and deal with it as we grow in this industry, but for a artist that is so focused on his craft like I am, the business supplies me with daily reasons to jump off of a bridge. If I do decide to finally kill myself one day, please believe it will be so dramatic folks will talk about it for a few decades in this city. I'm not ready to die though, so everyone is safe for now.

I probably don't share the same perspective as the average person when it comes to the science of life and death, so I apologize if this seems incredibly morbid. I just want to win and I'm overflowing with hunger. I know what I'm capable of when placed in a comfortable studio setting, yet sometimes I'm stressed out for days upon days at a time. I think after a certain point the feeling of overcoming obstacles becomes addictive. Losing sucks and everyone wants to win. I want to win all the time, everyday, all day. I pride myself on making a way for myself and the team when there are no clear options in my immediate sight. The depression sucks because I have a fairly decent life outside of this.

Lex Poe is solid and holds me down without fail. I couldn't ask for a more brilliant co-pilot. My personal assistant, Justin, treats Tef Poe music initiatives like they are his. I'd probably be confused and misguided without help from him and Stretch on a personal level. My friends are all talented human beings and they are very supportive of my goals despite the fact that they have their own. I have written more rap lyrics than I can imagine. I have performed all over the country; sometimes it's not glamorous but I've been blessed to see things people from my walk of life typically aren't blessed enough to see. I could never live a life rooted in slaving for another persons goals and aspirations. I just can't do it, and if I am working for someone else please believe I'm plotting a way to make the work I'm doing apply itself toward one of my own goals.

So here we are: I'm battling weeks of depression and I'm rehearsing for LouFest at the same damn time. I'm trying my best to make the company I'm signed to proud of my efforts. If I didn't have this gig this month I probably would've pulled my hair out because I have pretty much boxed myself into a corner. I hate the actual music business -- I can't say that enough. I spent most of my free time last month completely stressed and searching for an out. If I don't have a massive goal to work toward with a clear and concise road to victory, I feel trapped.

This LouFest booking actually helped me in more ways than I even realized at the time. This industry is massive; my crew has been blessed with a vast amount of opportunities and I feel honored to be here. The problem is we're not finished yet and the finish line is often blurred. I'm from Missouri and the rest of the world knows very little about my city.The rest of the world doesn't care about our problems.

I had a talk with my guy Jay Stretch briefly over the phone before we started recording and he stressed to me the importance of rediscovering the energy I had in me prior to the moment when the slope became slippery and our wheels started moving. At LouFest I was surrounded by all of my closest friends for a day. We woke up and ate breakfast at Majestic's in the Central West End and then we proceeded to the festival grounds for our 11 a.m. load in. The Doorway homies decided to go back to Belleville until about 2:15 pm.We were scheduled to hit the stage at 3:30pm. Our set was slated for an hour, so I thought it would be a wise move to allow my crew members to open the show with one song apiece. So I paced around for a brief spell until Rockwell Knuckles, the Doorway Crew and Family Affair were all accounted for and present. My band DOWNSTEREO showed up a few hours afterwards as well but spent a huge portion of their time prior to us getting onstage prepping their gear. I observed my crony DJ Grynd Tyme abusing the bar far too early in the morning, but this was his first time backstage at an event like this so I smiled and decided to let him live.

It was shaping up to be great day and I wanted everyone to enjoy it. Lex Poe worried about the possibility of rain early in the morning, but I told her whatever was destined to happen would happen regardless, so I wasn't worried.


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