Performing at LouFest Pulled Me Out of a Depressive Slump

I called upon my very close friend MCK from the Gramophone to be our sound guy for this gig. There's not a sound man on this planet that handles a "Tef Poe and friends" performance with the level of quality and understanding of our music that he brings to the table. I like to hear my voice onstage or else things can get hectic. MCK knows this and also knows how to properly blend my vocals with the music to keep me from having to over exert myself and scream over the instrumentation. He's best sound man in the city. It's safe to say wherever we go, he follows. This isn't the first time we called upon him to be our sound guy at an important gig of this nature. He brings a comfort to the situation I can't find elsewhere. He's actually childhood/lifelong friends with the members of DOWNSTEREO and he's the sole reason I became a fan of there's some time ago.

Long story not so short, I am backstage at LouFest and I'm surrounded by nothing but positive people from my inner circle. A few of my close friends were missing, but for the most part everyone that has some form of a job within our organization was present and it felt good. My older brother Black Spade didn't make it down to the show and we certainly felt the absence of his random sense of humor. Nato Caliph came to mind a few times as I ran around the festival grounds handling business prior to the show, but I reassured myself internally that I'd call him sometime this week and just talk to him for the sake of borrowing some of his wisdom.

The day was long and exhausting. I love to put on a energetic show, and prior to touching the stage I was worried we'd actually come off too energetic or chaotic for this type of festival. It was extremely hot, and when we took to the stage the sun decided to beat all of us up pretty badly. I was very concerned about the audio the fans would hear as my guys hype-manned my performance. I knew DOWNSTEREO would sound lovely because we spent weeks working on the song selections, but I was nervous about my hypemen because a few of them weren't present for every rehearsal performance. But lo and behold, the homies are just as hungry as me and I think this is why we work well together.

We all prayed on the side of the stage prior to the show, even though we all don't believe in the same form of God. The crew comedian S.D. (from Doorway) led us in prayer and it was actually quite refreshing due to the slight anxiety I was feeling at the moment. Right before I get onstage it's mandatory that I isolate myself. I can't really be around people or talk to folks because I take myself to a zone that only comes out of me prior to getting onstage. I think this is my way of dealing with the nervous energy that comes with being a performer. I am seldom nervous to perform, but I realized a while ago I need to be completely focused by the time I touch the stage. I can't joke around and horseplay or hold random conversations right before I get onstage or else the intensity I use to jump around onstage will find a way to bite me in the anus. Everyone around me is used to this, so when I start pacing the ground like a psycho and not talking to them they know what time it is.

My crew is compiled of multiple crews that joined forces in the name of supporting each other and sharing resources. Over the course of time we have all become really close and our union is more so a brotherhood than a business venture. Although there is always some form of business involved with what we do, we have all managed to form sincere relationships with each other and we honor these relationships above anything else. Some of us grew up together and some of us didn't. We haven't always been a unit of unity; for example Rockwell Knuckles is my partner in rhyme but he comes from a totally different rap crew by the name of Pangea. I was a young member of Soul Tyde. In Saint Louis underground hip-hop these were once two different universes. This is all something to think about because at the current date in time, Rocky is my best friend in the world of rap. We could've easily decided to be douches toward each other but we decided to outsmart the fox and work together. We've been friends long before we actually decided to make Tef Poe and Rockwell Knuckles an actual rap group. He's mentioned or featured on every solo project I've released. I don't release music without his involvement; his talents are a part of my formula.

My friends in Family Affair are twin brothers and I knew of them from my neighborhood growing up, but we didn't become friends until they moved into a home myself and their cousin Serroge rented on the north side of St. Louis a few years ago. Prior to this we really didn't have much of a history together. Rockwell Knuckles didn't actually live in this house but he was there daily, to the point that it actually felt awkward around the house when he wasn't. We were all a pack of young, misguided kids trying to raise ourselves and make music at the same time. Myself and Reprezent from Family Affair (twin with the braids) actually bumped heads a lot a few years ago. I find this to be weird because he's now one of the only members of my musical family that I hang out with every day.

I became friends with the Doorway crew through their extremely talented frontman Nick Menn (aka Whiteout). Nick is one of my favorite rappers and also one of my closest friends. His talent level amazes me daily. If it wasn't for him and his family I would've been stranded in St. Louis a few of the weeks I was scheduled to be in New York City for the filming of 106th & Park. Nick messaged me a few years ago and booked Corey Black and I for a show in the middle of Southern Illinois. I had no idea who he was and I thought the show would be a total waste of time besides the fact that myself and Corey were both getting paid to be there. This random show was actually one of the best things that has ever happened to me; we crossed the bridge and Nick introduced us to a ton of Tef Poe fans we never knew existed. We in return did the same exact thing for his crew on this side of the river. I still think it's funny sometimes to see him running with us because I remember he called me in the early stages of us getting to know each other and said, "Man, I wanna be down with the Force; I'm trying to be down y'all." The Force, for all intents and purposes doesn't quite exist in the same capacity which it did at the time we met, but hip-hop fans in Saint Louis pretty much consider Doorway to be members of the Force collective family tree.

Nick introduced me to his crony RT-Faq who is also my drummer when I'm not gigging with the band DOWNSTEREO. RT-Faq (pronounced Artifact) is probably the most talented man I've ever met.This year he released a very solid EP documenting the birth of his son conceptually through music. I think it might be one of the best St. Louis rap projects I've ever heard. He can do anything, literally. He has the most random list of talents and he's oddly great at them all.

I don't have enough time in this blog to tell you how all these above relationships have heightened my quality of life. My favorite photographer Amy Harris was on deck snapping photos. We were prepared to handle biz today.


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