Think you're busy? Try being Tech Supreme. The RFT's "Best Hip-Hop Producer" of 2007 is forging a steady, stellar career helping out members of The Force, a newly formed hip-hop collective featuring local heavyweights such as Rockwell Knuckles, Tef Poe, Black Spade, Gotta Be Karim and Corey Black. He's also working on his own material -- and organized a successful Haiti benefit a few weeks ago. Whew. Tech took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about what he's up to -- and discuss the STL community's burgeoning notoriety elsewhere. Take a listen to one of his latest production credits, Tef Poe's "Show Stealers," below.
How did the Haiit benefit go? Tech Supreme: The Haiti benefit concert truly exceeded my wildest expectations. By the time i got there, people were already there waiting for the show to start. We set the donation table up and people just started pouring in with cash donations, clothes, food, and water. We raised close to $1000 and a plethora of food and clothes, which we donated to the Kingshighway Baptist church. (I went with them because I was scared a big company would use the money inappropriately instead of getting it to Haiti.) It was truly a blessing to be able to bring all those people together for such a needed cause. Then the actual show was amazing. Everyone killed it. There are a ton of videos on YouTube of the performances. Shoutouts to the Force for helping me pull it off, and to DJ Who and Atomic Cowboy for allowing me to use their venue.
You left St. Louis for New Jersey late last year, but have since returned. What made you decide to leave in the first place? What made you decide to come back? I have been struggling for years to chase my dreams of music. A few months ago I kind of got fed up with the way things were going with my music despite all of the positive things that were happening. My lease was up and i felt compelled to go home and see if I could start making music out there. The week I left for some reason Tef Poe's single I produced, "Show Stealers," began getting radio play outside of STL Home Jamz. It really started picking up and then the super-popular website www.thesmokingsection.net began co-signing Tef. They even green lit a sponsored project for him -- all while I was gone. I decided to come back to work the record and to produce and engineer Tef's project, Money Never Sleeps. It's a blessing I came back because i honestly feel that this is the best music I have created. We have songs with Teresajenee and Rockwell Knuckles that are ridiculous. The growth is definitely there on the music side.
Black Space, Live at the Haiti Benefit at Atomic Cowboy
Musically, tell me about your latest projects -- for yourself and for other people. What are you currently working on? For the past month all of my attention is focused on Money Never Sleeps, due later this month, which we are in the final week of recording for. Since we are basically finished with that, I have decided to collab with the talented Nato Caliph on a EP due out in April. I'm also planning to develop new talents quite like I did with Corey Black. I am scouring the city for people to work with that have a drive that can match my crew's drive.
I have a b-side single I produced for an artist named M.C featuring Chingy, Kyjuan, and Murphy Lee. I'm excited about that record because it is a hip-hop record and something you might not expect from them. I will be more intimately involved in Rockwell Knuckles' next project after he releases Choose Your Own Adventure in March. Plus The Force is putting together a compilation that we can take to SXSW in March to hand out in between our sets down there. (Sidebar: I am very excited about this trip.) Tef Poe and i also plan on releasing a project through www.rockthedub.com. Whew! That sums it up. Basically, I'm just trying to continue making great music with the same people I have been working with plus some new faces. All for the love of music and St. Louis hip-hop. Corollary: In terms of this stuff from this blogpost, what came out, what's still in the works? I know your EP is available for free on MySpace, and i know another Tef Poe collaboration and a Corey Black collaboration is out there from last year. In 2009, I released Subwoofer, which is a collaboration with me and fellow producer Dro. Corey Black, The Blackout EP. I released an EP called I Love 2 Hate U which is a few songs from my album. I released Tef Poe's The Redeemer. I quietly dropped my album Jungle City, and I think that's it. Most of these can be found on www.irepstl.com, which is a site I started so people had a one stop shop for free local hip-hop/rap/R&B.
The STL's underground seems to get a lot of love from hip-hop blogs. What is your take on how the community is viewed/perceived on this national level? We are getting a ton of good looks from the national blog scene. I believe it starts with good music and then great fans. When the blogs took notice and began posting our music, our fans commented so hard that they were forced to take notice. Then other blogs took notice and now we are building a true online presence representing St. Louis hip-hop and R&B. One of the main perceptions of the music scene here is the bubblegum music. The world knows STL for Nelly, Chingy and J-Kwon. They aren't truly familar with us being lyricists and making true music. Of course, not taking anything away from their music, because I love it too, but it's pop (popular) music, which is watered down on purpose to reach a broader audience.
We are the anomaly to other cities. We are the deviation, in the same light as people are looking at Curren$y, Jay Electronica and other hip-hoppers from New Orleans. Like, "Damn they got cats down there that can spit?" That city was known for Master P and Cash Money. Real music is breaking the sterotypes and shedding the light. When we breakthrough, the first thing people are gonna say is, "Damn I didn't know they made music like this in St.Louis." The national spotlight will be on us sooner than later. Even in our own city, the rap side is taking notes of our music. Rockwell Knuckles' single, "Government Name" and Tef's single, "Showstealers" are getting great rotation on the radio and in the clubs, from Club Exo to Club Casino. Not bad for some hip-hoppers in a Southern-dominated market.