The Thirteen Best St. Louis Rappers
Rome was once described in the Riverfront Times as "the less imaginative" member of the Force. It's often difficult to queue into his universe because you're uncertain where to find him due to his knack for collaboration projects (Gas House Gang, ThisIstheDope, Eastern Conference Finals w/ William H, Thug Friends), but once we locate him and enter his world, we discover that his mixtapes often carry heavy 808-induced production and rhymes schemes inspired by our favorites. His music is layered, with undertones paying homage to Pimp C all while being supported by an immaculate soundscape of sample-based production. His rhymes are usually flawlessly pieced together and he makes most of own beats, which makes him a true hidden gem in the studio. His production is comparable to the early days the Three Six Mafia sound. Indiana Rome is one of the most gifted rappers in the St. Louis music scene today. You can hear growth in his music from project to project, and his music videos have become his virtual calling card.
Black Spade does not want to be lauded as one of the best hip-hop artists in St. Louis. If he had his druthers, he would share the honor with a dozen different members of his crew. And while all of them are incredibly talented artists in their own right, Spade's on another level. His production work, done under the name Stoney Rock, sounds like the futuristic hybrid of J Dilla and Madlib. His rhymes are sincere and insightful. His singing is a soulful style all its own. His projects fuse the divergent styles of several Force members into a cohesive work of art. And so Spade deserves his praise -- not just for being one of the best, but also for bringing the best out of his peers.
When KDHX (88.1 FM) launched a billboard campaign featuring local artists, Tef Poe was an obvious choice. He is one of the largest personalities in St. Louis music, from his thoughtful columns in this publication to calling out Archfront Media for screwing him over on his opening set for Rakim. Tef Poe only seems like a shit-stirrer because he has turned his lack of a filter into an aesthetic, and in the tradition of polarizing figures like Kanye West and Tyler the Creator, he has the flow to back it up. Need proof? Check out his Hero Killer mixtape, fresh off the heels of last year's excellent War Machine II and a winning streak on BET's 106 & Park Freestyle Fridays competition.