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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Ferguson's Influence on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly

Categories: Hip-Hop

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The arresting cover art to Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar's highly anticipated new album, To Pimp a Butterfly, was dropped like a ton of bricks on an unsuspecting world today, a full week prior to its announced release date. The whole damned Internet has since lost its mind over the album, which eschews radio-ready singles for, instead, a sprawling jazz- and funk-inflected 79 minutes of pain, confusion, clarity and triumph. The highly cerebral work offers as many questions as answers as Kendrick attempts to bring the lessons he's learned through his rise -- from the streets of Compton to Grammy-winning, international fame -- back to his community.

See also: Kendrick Lamar Addresses Criticism to His Ferguson Remarks With "The Blacker the Berry"


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Mod Sun: "Hip-Hop Is Ready for Positivity Again"

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Photo by Eric Gorvin
Mod Sun will perform at the Firebird this Saturday.
By Jack Spencer

Minnesota-born rapper Mod Sun has released a ton of mixtapes and EPs since 2009, under the self-described genre "hippy-hop." Now he's on tour in support of his just-released debut album, Look Up, on Rostrum Records.

An outspoken proponent of self-love in his music, he's continuing his trajectory with this new batch of upbeat tracks. Ahead of his show Saturday at the Firebird, RFT Music spoke to Mod Sun about the journey leading to his new album, and how he fits (or doesn't fit) within the music community at large.

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

Categories: Hip-Hop

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Jon Gitchoff
Earl Sweatshirt will perform at Ready Room on March 24
We got some heat for you this month. Your March will be a fun one -- we're packed with shows by national acts, local acts and local acts that have since gone national. You can't lose this month; the combination of hip-hop and the arrival of spring is a win-win. Take that, winter.


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