Rapper Freddie Gibbs Isn't Interested In "Fake Shit"

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Jon Gitchoff
Freddie Gibbs will perform at the Ready Room on Tuesday, July 21.
"The will to win. It comes out of Gary, Indiana. I was supposed to lose, but I didn't," Freddie Gibbs says over the phone from Los Angeles. "My story comes from a real victorious place in my heart. Don't nobody want nothing in Gary, so you gotta want for yourself."

The 33-year-old Indiana native is indeed one of few rappers to come from the state. "You talking to the music scene," he laughs. Since 2003, Gibbs has released a deluge of mixtapes, EPs and studio albums. His next full-length, Lifestyles of the Insane, is slated for a late-summer release.

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How St. Louis' Hip-Hop Community Thrived in a Year of Social Unrest

Categories: Hip-Hop, Longform

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Photo by Corey Miller
Five of the six members of MME -- a hip-hop collective making big waves through its music in the post-Ferguson era.

The lights are dimmed at the Luminary on Cherokee Street, where roughly 200 hip-hop fans have gathered for a special event showcasing the work of St. Louis' MME collective, a tight group of local artists who have been making big noise in the last year. Photos from a recent West Coast outing hang on a wall close to the front of the building, and a stash of merch sits in plain sight for anyone walking through the door. But no one is interested in any of that right now. It is the end of a long night, and the focus is on the stage.

The June 4 show kicked off this year's LAB series at the Luminary, a multimedia affair that pairs live performance with video projection. Each member of MME — Dante Wolfe, Mir, Lyrique, Con, Ciej and Mvstermind — has already performed individually before joining forces à la Voltron to close out the show with a group set.

See also: St. Louis Hip-Hop Trailblazers MME Get a Showcase at the Luminary

As they prepare to perform the final song of the night, the group's de facto leader, Mvstermind, looks sweaty but determined. "We gotta do this shit for this city, man," he says. "Keep cultivating."

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St. Louis Hip-Hop Trailblazers MME Get a Showcase at the Luminary

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Photo by Cory Miller
Hip-hop collective MME.
Of rapper ciej's event at the Luminary next week with hip-hop collective MME (Mediate. Meditate. Elevate.), he says, "I might perform on the ceiling." MME will descend on the space at 2701 Cherokee, an incubator for new ideas in the arts that presents visual art exhibitions, an artist residency program, concerts and LAB, a one-year old event series that pushes musicians beyond their music.

Formed last summer, LAB offers local musicians a venue to explore their ambitions and the different dimensions of their artistic practices. AstThe Luminary's Operations and Events Coordinator Liz Deichmann explains, "We are interested in pushing the conversation of music past traditional concert experiences." The Luminary's interior, now bare of furniture in anticipation of a floor refurbishing, provides artists a literal blank canvas to do with what they will.

MME will kick off this year's LAB series on June 4 just as the collective is coming off a successful ten-city tour with stops that included SXSW in Austin, a two-night performance in Denver and an unexpected trip to Los Angeles for a last-minute show. Not only did the group sell of out merch, but its trip was mostly financed by a fan-funded GoFundMe campaign. "The tour gave us the strength to continue to trust ourselves," relays Mvstermind, the troupe's de facto leader.

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Rap Group 3 Problems Could Be St. Louis' Next Breakout Act. Here Are Their Best Videos

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Photo by Ben Westhoff
Swagg Huncho (left) and Lil Tay of 3 Problems, a North County St. Louis group whose popularity is suddenly snowballing.

3 Problems is a St. Louis-based rap group making some of the most beautiful and troubling hip-hop out right now. Its members are Lil Tay, who lives in Jennings, Swagg Huncho, who lives in Ferguson, and Relly Rell, who recently got ten years for second-degree murder.

All three of them are eighteen, and though most RFT readers likely haven't heard of them, they're practically celebrities among north-county high school kids. They get recognized on the street, they posed for pictures at the Michael Brown protests, and they're increasingly asked to do features and shows. (You can catch them tonight at the #OshayParty at 419 Gano Ave.) They even recently got written up in Rolling Stone by an amazing local journalist. (Ahem.)

The guys get compared to Rae Sremmurd and have something of a Chief Keef vibe as well -- melodic but rough. More than anything, their music has a timeless quality, with honest-feeling stories about growing up in a tough environment. Their hooks are incredible -- just listen to their most recent mixtape, A Problem Story -- and judging by how quickly their following has been snowballing, they could be breakout national stars. (They're definitely hindered by Relly Rell's incarceration, but the other two members are so skilled that they can make it as a duo.)

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Fresh Produce Beat Battles Are Back

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Courtesy of Fresh Produce
Ben Stein
After a four-year hiatus, St. Louis' Fresh Produce Beat Battle is back this week, with a new show called Fruit of the Boom.

Known for showcasing the best new talent hip-hop talent in St. Louis, the Fresh Produce Beat Battle was held monthly for four years before taking its long break. In that time, it drew a wide spectrum of hip-hop fans in the region, impressed by the caliber of producers the contest brought into the scene.

We caught up with DJ Who and Ben Stein, both members of the Basement Sound System, to chat about providing a fertile proving ground for aspiring producers and rappers, allowing them to "get out of the basement and out in the world."

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The 5 Most Anticipated Local Hip-Hop Albums of 2015

Categories: Hip-Hop

Ask any hip-hop head in the local scene, and they'll tell you each January that this year will be the one when St. Louis is put back on the music map. Yet 2014 came and went with a whimper, aside from the events in Ferguson where our communities gained national buzz for something other than our artists.

Fast forward to April, and some of the year's most anticipated new releases have yet to come. Will 2015 be our year? Here are five upcoming hip-hop releases that have a chance of making some noise.

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The Best St. Louis Hip-Hop Shows: April 2015

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Press photo
Juicy J, performing at Pop's Nightclub April 26.
Tour season is starting to rev up, bringing a lot of acts through St. Louis. All the way from the very local to the big-name national -- yes Juicy J, we're looking at you -- we've got you covered during the beginning, the middle and end of the month. Some are free, some are cheap, and some are a little pricier, but hey, that's just how the cookie crumbles. Regardless, April is bringing some heat, which is good.

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Illphonics Sign Deal with the Record Machine

Categories: Hip-Hop

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St. Louis' Illphonics, long-time stalwarts of the local hip-hop scene, announced through a YouTube video this week that the group has signed a deal with Kansas City's Record Machine label, well-known for organizing KC's annual Middle of the Map Fest. Illphonics will join fellow STLians Palace, also on the roster.

See also: Palace Talks Signing with Record Machine and New LP Summer, Don't You Dare

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Vince Staples Brings Reality Back to Gangster Rap

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Carlo Cruz / Red Bull Content Pool
Vince Staples will perform at the Ready Room tonight.
By Sarah Bennett

Vince Staples isn't trying to be hard when he tells stories about his gangbanging past. He also doesn't care much for smoking weed, wearing bling, banging bitches or clearing out his bank account to make an Instagram video.

Instead, Hell Can Wait -- the 21-year-old Long Beach, California, emcee's Def Jam EP -- dropped in October as a "Fuck tha Police" for the new generation. It's filled with all of the ballsy storytelling, truthful street depictions and silky poetic verse that has been missing from gangster rap for more than a decade.

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Twenty Years After His Death, Eazy-E Deserves a Spot on Rap's Mount Rushmore

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Peter Dokus
Eazy-E died twenty years ago this week. RIP.
For Eazy-E, the concept of gangster rap was fully formed in his mind.

By 1986 the genre, which nobody then called "gangster rap" ("reality rap," please) had begun to sprout in LA by way of Ice-T's "6 'n the Mornin'," which was patterned after Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D's "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" But there was no gangster-rap label, and certainly no gangster-rap genre.

Eazy-E was an unlikely progenitor. "I didn't know he rapped," remembers MC Ren, his future bandmate in N.W.A. "Ain't nobody know."

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