Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 was released this Tuesday, June 5th and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe.
Every week in I'm Just A Rapper, Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.
St. Louis is overflowing with talented musical artists. It's always my goal to elevate our city's hip-hop music in general and not just my own personal profile. I decided this week I wanted to talk about the St. Louis emcee's I actually listen to. I desire to pay homage to the music I actually have in my mp3 player from St. Louis-bred talent.
In the beginning I felt as if typing this blog would be offensive to some so I hesitated to do so. I am not a professional journalist. I am writing this entry from the perspective of myself as a fan. I am a human being with his very own personal likes and dislikes.
I spent days racking my brain trying to not exclude anyone who deserves to be mentioned. I am just a fan that listens to hip-hop and desires to tell others about some of the amazing artists my journey within the culture has led me to. I am a product of the local scene. Everything about my persona was created by the St. Louis music scene and the fans that keep it alive. I'm not going to mention these artists in any particular order.
This isn't a poll or a best of competition but more so a simple blog educating the readers about a few artists from St. Louis they might enjoy. If you're currently a fan of these specific artists then keep following them and pushing their music. I can only write about the music I've been introduced to and most of these artists did it the old fashioned way. As a fan I seek to understand the person and the music in one package. The battle to launch a career from our city starts and ends with the fans.
This is simply my way of paying homage to the acts that I listen to and respect musically. My opinion is not worth a wooden nickel. I hope this will inspire all of us to keep pursuing our goals while using the utmost forms of diligence and respect for each other. I don't want to be accused of covertly promoting people I'm cool with, so I won't express my thoughts about people like Rockwell Knuckles, Vandalyzm, Family Affair, Corey Black and Black Spade. I feel like all those guys are geniuses in there own right, and I could spend an entire blog breaking down how talented they actually are. Hopefully if all goes well I will be able to do a sequel to this blog and include the artists that slipped through the cracks on this go around. So with no further delay, here it is:
T. Prince I featured him on my mixtape Power Over Everything ("Inner City Blues" feat T. Prince). This guy is like Biggie meets Nas meets Lupe. I've never heard a wack verse from him, period. His aura onstage says rap star all over it. He is probably one of my favorite rappers on the planet. He mixes street anthems with tales of black consciousness in a very untouchable way. He can write a party song or club record with some of the slickest dialogue you'll ever hear. He has a ridiculous imagination and can tell a story overflowing with the most vivid descriptions. He has every component needed to be the GOAT in any city he resides in. His crew is equally talented: One of the standout members is Trig, a young guy who writes infectious hooks and also produces.
Doorway (L-Gifted, Whiteout, RT-Faq, S.D). To me Doorway is an important crew because they basically became a portal for anything going on over the bridge. Through them I was introduced to the music of Aurelius the Saint, LMNOP and countless other acts from across the water. Doorway stands out to me primarily because of the quality of their music and the unity these guys display amongst each other. L-Gifted is like the wise older spirit in a young man's body. RT-Faq is a natural born performer onstage and his presence often helps legitimize the team. S.D. is their go-to guy when it comes to touching the club scene and street music demographic. I feel like Whiteout is the Method Man of their crew. He's not the leader necessarily but he wears almost any hat needed to get the job done.
Aurelius The Saint One conversation with Aurelius and his positive demeanor just spills over into your spirit. His music is layered with rich messages challenging the listener to think differently. He hails from the east side but isn't heavy on club music and even though he's a bit of a conscious rapper he has discovered a way to appeal to the masses. I sense that he could easily have chosen another route, but due to life experiences and past circumstances he has chosen to take the high road. He recently opened for legendary Southern rapper Devin the Dude. Aurelius The Saint's music is very mature and reality based.
Legend Camp The St. Lunatics, Family Affair, Bits N Pieces, Scripts N Screwz, Midwest Avengers and Legend Camp. These are the St. Louis rap groups with eternal reputations to me. Legend Camp a.k.a. LC is a two-man group consisting of Fresh Voice and X-Luger. LC is armed with one of the most amazingly synced hip-hop stage shows you'll ever see. Fresh Voice is sort of like the voice of reasoning, sprinkling hyped energetic conscious profanity free vibes into his verses. X-Luger does the same but somehow adds a more hardened edge to his approach. Something about X-Luger makes me believe he's done it all and seen it all. Fresh Voice is like the wise shogun at the top of the mountain. I have never encountered a rap group quite like Legend Camp. What if you took the skill level and down-to-earth demeanor of Murphy Lee and mixed it with the message of Stic. man from Dead Prez? The St. Louis underground breaks down into many different scenes and these guys are basically respected in each sector.
Thi'sl DJ Drama coined one of my favorite hip-hop music terms "quality street music." Thi'sl creates this kind of music all while placing his own spin on it. Most rappers in his position never lived the life they speak on. Every rapper isn't a gangster and every gangster isn't a rapper. Somehow when the two components meet in the right light they can create a masterpiece. Thi'sl has made a commitment to change his lifestyle and not endorse the madness that he helped give birth to in the St. Louis streets. Some would consider him a gospel rapper. I myself consider him and independent Missouri powerhouse in the making. Thi'sl has charted on iTunes and spawned a nationwide underground movement with zero major cosigns. He made a song about his hatred for crack cocaine and followed its release with a jaw dropping video. His brand of street music is exactly what our city needs. He manages to speak the truth without preaching to the listener.
OOOPS This guy is unique for several reasons. He reps the Southside, has a reputation for being a fierce battle emcee and can create top 40 records with ease. He has his own following and has worked hard to become a household name in the club scene. He has also worked with the likes of Wacka Flocka. OOOPS has a stage show that can easily be considered one of the best you'll ever see. His musical range and talent are hard to match.
Prince EaOne of best lyricist in the Midwest, period. Ea has a ridiculous fan base and truthfully with the right moves on the business end of things it's only a matter of time for him. He writes thought provoking punchlines, and his verses are overflowing with content. Ea has somehow transformed into a marketing genius on a certain level. His "Make Smart Cool Movement" reaches as far as Australia and beyond. He is certainly one of the Lou's brightest up and coming prospects. I respect him because he has real accomplishments attached to his name and understands the power of branding.
Tag Team A very energetic group of young men still in high school but shooting for the stars. One of the problems with local groups is they seem to have trouble developing a fan base and actively engaging with them. For the staff of development and and crew members behind Tag Team this is not a problem. I've heard rumors about their stage show even though I've yet to see them live for myself. They have a buzz and a following that is all their own. I recently saw them in the middle of the street on Natural Bridge with billboards and posters promoting themselves and selling CD's. You have to respect die-hard efforts such as this.
Kenny Knox He's living everything he raps about. His recent joint about Trayvon Martin is one of the dopest songs I've ever heard from a St. Louis artist. Kenny Knox is a street artist some might classify as gangster rap. I dig his music because it's raw, uncut and legit. He's one of those artists that could start a movement simply with his voice. You take Chuck D. add a little bit of Jeezy and a pinch of Tupac and the outcome is Kenny Knox.
Saint O St. Louis is known for making club music. Let's make no mistake about it: this is nothing to be ashamed of as long as it's done right. The thing is Saint O. does this form of music all while rapping with the ferocity of a beast. He is known almost as much for his personal grind as much as he is known for his music. Ninety nine percent of the rappers attempting to do what this man does are complete trash. He has a natural aura that spells stardom. He relies on his work ethic and lyricism to spread the acclaim of his music. I always say a good rapper can introduce you to a universe you never knew existed. Some kind of way Saint O. discovered a gap in the defense and exploited it. His latest mixtape Flawless Victory contains features from his always animated partner in rhyme M-Eazy and Slim Dunkin R.I.P.) Fresco Kane One major record deal and a name change later the artist formerly known as Gena still stands. Every city has a guy that has set the standard for indie hits in his respective market. Fresco has done this year after year after year without fail. He can perform at Super Jam and Cicero's both in the same night without losing applause. He now has Jermaine Dupri backing him as a member of So So Def records. His latest single with Busta Rhymes is on a set course to own the summer. He reps East Saint Louis and is one of our cities brightest up and coming stars. He has fought for every ounce of respect his name carries and I believe he deserves our full-fledged support.
Vega His latest project Small City, Big Dreams is a bonafide classic to me. Most people only know him for the rally song (which truthfully did ridiculous numbers). But you didn't know he has produced for the likes of Young Jeezy. You also didn't know that he is the younger brother of R&B sensation Bradd Young. This kid is money in the bank and might be on the brink of an insanely large career. Some things need zero explanation and Vega is poised to be a household name at any given moment.
Adult Fur One of my favorite humans on the entire planet. The thing is, I know he's not a hip-hop artist, but similar to Teresa Jenee, he one of those artists who doesn't necessarily fit into a particular genre. He's fluid collaborator with people like FarFetched founding members Scriptz 'N Screwz, Rockwell Knuckles and myself among many others.
Doughyboy An extremely hardworking young cat affiliated with Huey and Young Rhome. This guy is always working as evident by his presence on YouTube. His music videos are very dope and his music offers you approachability without sacrificing his skill level as a emcee. Nelly set the standard for St. Louis as a city that gives birth to marvelous hip-hop entertainers. I can easily see Doughboy becoming a poster child for St. Louis hip-hop in a light which we've never seen. He can make records like the St. Louis greats, yet he does so with the hunger and wit of a new artist stepping into the limelight.
Meru The wise monk at the top of the mountain must've showed Meru how to rhyme. He is a member of the 3 Kingz collective and has worked with the Trackstarz. If Morpheus was a rapper he would be Meru. His crew's music is carried by deep messages and poetical references the average listener won't catch on the first play. He rhymes alongside one of my favorite people in the world, the guy that caused me to change my rap style when I was a teenager running around in the U-City Loop: B-Fari.
Buff N Chubb Buff N Chubb are one of the best duos in the city and this needs to be known. They make street music with an edge to it yet I think they have definite crossover appeal. They are proud representatives of the Southside. BNC are capable of dropping flawless hooks and raps that describe the ghettos of STL like none other. They feed off of each other in a way that reminds listeners of Scarface, UGK, Eightball and MJG. They are capable of delivering smash singles and high energy street anthems. Their new single "Jealous" actually features yours truly. Be on the lookout for their all the acts on their Best Out Ent roster.
Ray Goss A very humble and down to earth brother for starters. Ray makes music for real people. He doesn't try to portray himself as the most gangster, hardbody cat alive; his music isn't necessarily conscious rap but it is very honest and revealing about his actual real life. He doesn't put on a mask and fill his rhymes with unhealthy imaginary folklore about Nino Brown and Al Capone. Ray Goss is one of those rappers we actually need. His presence is one I embrace with open arms as you should.
DerrtyBoi Montanna I'll be honest I don't know if he's technically from St. Louis but I know he has close tidings with Adam Murphy a.k.a. Jesse James so he might as well be from here even if he isn't. First thing that comes to mind when I think of this guy is perseverance. I know he's been doing his thing for a while, and he's dropped several mixtapes. I respect artists that have a back catalogue that can be researched. He's more so about the complete project versus the temporary club jam that will get him temporary attention. I agree with this approach to the game. Every time I come across him or anyone he's affiliated with they are in full promotion mode.
Gangsta Gritz Repping Pine Lawn Missouri I respect this guy for being a lyricist when it wasn't the trend. He came out the gate creating a very powerful buzz with DJ Charlie Chan Soprano and has an ear for dope production. His debut mixtape Murder Lou is a few years old at this point but stands the test of time as an underground classic. His partner in Sosa is also a favorite of mine -- these guys make the kind of music I enjoy listening to.
Teresa Jenee Money in the bank. I love this woman -- she is ridiculously talented. If you haven't listened to her music you are cheating yourself. She is a very amazing vocalist with a remarkable songwriting ability. Her stage show is designed for the big leagues. She is also one of my favorite people to collaborate with. She reminds me of Aaliyah so much it's scary - she's an all around beautiful person who makes beautiful music. In an era where women have been objectified and originality is lacking, TJ is a breathe of fresh air. One of the most creative musicians from this city ever: point-blank, period.
Richie Stacks I'm a fan of this cat. I see the posters, I see the flyers, I see the energy surrounding his name growing on a constant basis. I think in the Bay Area he would be huge. His stage show is sick as hell, full of energy and dope props. I respect grinders, people who come to the table and don't ask for a hand out. Richie Stacks has a serious grind about himself, and in my opinion he totally understands what being indie is about.
Steddy P This guy has formed a movement that stretches from STL to KCMO. He organizes his own tours and pushes his own merch. His crew and label go by the name Indyground and from the looks of things they do the name very much justice. I saw him destroy the stage at the Slaughterhouse concert with zero remorse.
$FAME$ A very ambitious youthful hip hop collective capable making records that can compete with most of your favorite top 40 jams. They have a quality mixtape available for download and are always in the process of promoting themselves. Their debut full length album is titled We Are The Fanbase and I'll most definitely check it out when it drops.
Kash One of my favorite rappers and a forgotten hero of the local scene. He recently dropped a new project entitled Rebel Sound System which is currently available for free download. He may be the Missouri version of Jay Electronica. In a marketplace that often lacks creativity Kash is a standout lyricist from St. Louis now residing in Arizona. His brand of positive messages and hardcore metaphors is a true treat for the listeners. Jonezy The guy next door turned rapper. Jonezy reminds me of the likes of Slug from Atmosphere yet he spits from the perspective of a true indie artist awaiting national exposure. His beat selection is dope and he's capable of crafting some pretty amazingly solid cadences. He's known for paving his own path and is the host of a monthly hip-hop event in the Central West End.
ChalkBoyz The official party starters of Webster Groves. These guys are known for crashing shows, throwing super dope house parties, and refreshingly offering the game something you can't find everywhere else. Thier shows do numbers, and with the right coordination they might be able to pimp the suburbs and sell a few records. Be on the lookout for CBs affiliate Timmy Stallone.
Preach When Tech N9ne features you on one of his albums you deserves a mention in a post like this. Preach had a crazy year, from touring with Bone Thugs N Harmony to snatching a Slum Fest Award. His flow is ridiculous and he may be the fastest rapper in the metro area. I have nothing but respect for this cat solely off the strength of his grind and positive persona. His music is high quality and very energetic. Trixie and Shotta G If everything goes as it should these two artists will help St. Louis re-establish dominance in the world of hip-hop. Shotta G is an amazing emcee that can drop bars with the best of them. He has a natural star quality aura about him. He's a calm, collected Jamaican cat. He can pen sing-songy hooks that have pop radio vibes or he can spit some menacing braggadocio bars about anything under the sun. Trixie is going to go down in the history books as one of the best female lyricist the city has ever seen. She has a girl next door type of image combined with a very Queen of the hill approach to the mic. She's a pitbull waiting to be unleashed on so many levels and it's going to be quite enjoyable for me as a fan to witness her growth. She was featured on Nelly's most recent mixtape. For these two artist it is only a matter of time. With the backing of Derrty Ent and the genius marketing mind of Nelly behind Trixie and with Shotta coming along for the ride, they will surely do damage. Be on the lookout for Trixie's fellow Derrty Ent. Buzz-heavy crew member Lil St. Louis.
Theresa Payne This woman could one day be considered the Aretha Franklin of St. Louis. I believe CoCo Soul is indeed our version of Chaka Khan and Theresa Payne is her follow up. Her project The Moment, which was executive produced by Rockwell Knuckles, showcases her growth and songwriting ability on a level many didn't know she was capable of exploring. She is the girl down the street that can sing like none other. I believe we will hear her name mentioned with the all time greats of her genre eventually.
Midwest Avengers Living legends that have done it all. One of the most progressive St. Louis hip-hop crews ever. They are the sole reason some of the venues in our city even play hip-hop to begin with. Their new sound is centered in rock but it's difficult to give it a label because the actual music is a bit of a chameleon. John Harrington aka BC is the mastermind behind the group and is also one of the creative geniuses behind the scenes working hard to give you Slum Fest. Dharma Jean The younger cousin of Theresa Payne has no intentions on living in her shadow. She can sing, write, rap and perform like none other. Something about her is very magnetic and I've sat in a room with her and felt like I was in some type of movie about old school classic musicians. She has the hunger and drive to accompany the talent. I think this summer will be huge for her.
Lil St. Louis Destined to be a household name in St. Louis and beyond a member of the Derrty Ent. powerhouse roster with superior names such as Trixie, Murphy Lee and the buzz heavy JGE. Lil St. Louis is most definitely the hood department of Derrty -- his mixtapes can be found scattered through the city and his buzz seems to have inflated overnight. He uses the Internet to his advantage while maintaining his street cred. His delivery is filled with the hunger and pain of a cat that has really lived the things he's rapping about.
Gas House Gang William H, MVP, Indiana Rome, Saint O: a super group. They recently dropped a solid EP, giving us all a glimpse of what the future has in store. Quickly carving their own lane and taking no prisoners while dropping trunk-rattling bangers, they specialize in combining lyricism and lifestyle raps while painting the picture from the perspective an upcoming St. Louis rap crew filled with hunger. Hopefully we will be blessed with a follow up or full length LP from these cats. GHG is its own movement and each member has a respective grind of his own away from the actual group.
Aye Verb, Icepack Ill, Hitman Holla These gentlemen dedicated their lives to putting on for St. Louis. Each of them is arguably the best battle rapper alive in his own right. You can witness their most epic moments via YouTube versus some of the most dangerous emcee's on the planet. It takes talent to perform on the level they do and often it is overlooked. All of them have serious fan bases and the numbers to support them. I know new music is on the way from Aye Verb and Hitman has a classic collabo with Murphy Lee floating around in the clubs. Icepack Ill has the flare and God-given ability to entertain people. In order for a city to be respected in hip-hop you need soldiers on all fronts.
LMNOP His music is rich in originality and approachability. He reps the east side and has been patiently pushing his music for years. I remember listening to this guy back in the myspace era. LMNOP is no stranger to longevity and also has a heavy fan base in Kansas City. He is also one of the new breed of east side rappers that has recently played a huge role in the current movement being born across the bridge.
MME A high energy group of young guys that are very likeable and enjoyable to watch. They make music that is refreshingly comparable to hip-hop from the golden era. I like these guys because the group members are knowledgeable and willing to grow at their own pace. They are often supported by the solid production of Michael Franco and are surely a crew of prospects who should be watched closely. Their shows usually do decent numbers and they seem very self-reliant.
Julian Keaton A local artist with fewer than one hundred shows under his belt. Even with his lack of experience, he has somehow managed to become one of the most opinionated people I've ever met. He serves as the perfect reminder that rappers cannot blog about other rappers unless they are ready for war. You can see Julian doing his thing at the Pre-Slum Fest party at the Gramophone. Be sure to come out and support his ascension in the local hip-hop rankings. His debut album is on the way, he has even reached out to people like my personal long time friend DJ Spec for help. He desires to be more than a rapper and these efforts should be applauded. In the classic words of Houston Texas rap legend J.Prince "Yo! Face!!"
D.I. Skreet If Skreet puts it in his raps then chances are he's done it in real life. He completely embodies the spirit of the street hustler and describes such a lifestyle to the listeners with ease. Skreet is also co-owner and co-founder of 1909 Studios downtown with Tech Supreme and ILLustrious Vision photographer Nick Morris. His movement the Renaissance Fam is being strengthened everyday due to his very own devotion. Skreet has mastered the art of spitting beautifully crafted tales about life in the trap. He also doubles as a producer alongside partner in crime Indiana Rome when needed.
Nato Caliph His music is packed with a message that today's current music climate lacks. The institution of the conscious emcee is not deceased, and Nato's mission is proving this. He makes music for people who know and believe our society is not functioning properly yet we can fix it. Nato Caliph stands up for the true school listeners that still believe in the basic elements of hip-hop. Listening to his music will help you learn a thousand things. He is in the same vein as KRS-1 and Rakim but with a modernized U City influence behind his music. I didn't want to blurb about too many members of my own crew, but Nato's music deserves a mention.
Yo Banga Yo Banga is a gangster rap icon in the city of St. Louis. He has a relentless grind and merciless way of describing the streets of STL. I respect his music because once again a great rapper finds a way to introduce you to their entire universe. I know I've said that maybe a thousand times but this is one sign of a great emcee. He has the soldiers in place to support his movement alongside with the street appeal to back it up. He is a humble dude with a reputation that supersedes him. He was recently featured on the cover of the RFT in a jaw-dropping article that talks about the ups and downs of his career and life. This is raw unapologetic street music with a purpose. In his own words, "I don't owe you sh*t but I owe my lawyer."
Bren Suarez One of the best storytellers I've ever encountered. Bar for bar, Bren reminds you of golden era hip-hop that was rich in lyrical content and supported by trunk heavy boom-bap beats. He is a veteran emcee that is not afraid to speak his mind and can freestyle with the best of them. I recently posted some of his music on footklan.net so go there and search his name if you are interested in hearing what he has to offer to the world of hip-hop.
KD The Assassin KD makes music from the eyes of a young man with a very mature soul. He has a very serious street smart ghetto prophet-like demeanor. The Assassin is also primarily backed by the flawlessly layered production of Stephen "Instrumental" King. KD occupies a lane that many of us dare not to tread. He is fresh off of tour with the legendary Wu-Tang Clan's Cappadonna. He has also established musical tidings with the likes of Shyheim the Manchild. His hypeman and rhyme partner is also the legendary Hi Pointe emcee 923. He is a emcee with the ability to discuss politics, drug deals, and world news on a level that is understandable to all. KD The Assassin makes music for the mature music lover that is not impressed by the monotony of hip-hop. Dixi Freely Chances are you've never heard of this guy. I sit here smiling as I type this because this is the reason I jumped at the chance to write this weekly blog. The chance to introduce you all to new things, people, and places. Dixi Freely is not originally from St. Louis but he currently lives here. He makes music with rich southern influences and high doses of inspiration. I have seldom met a person with such a positive good spirited aura. You don't run across these kind of people in the music business. Check out his video's on YouTube become a fan today. He has a hands-on, do-it-yourself demeanor, and if he works hard enough I can see him occupying the same lane as the likes of Big Krit.
County Brown Living legend. Before I really hoped off the porch into the local scene this guy was here and already established. Years later I myself am established and he is still here. County Brown has broke artist, dropped classic mixtapes, classic singles, launched full fledge indie movements. He has produced insane soundscapes for his self and other artists. He is a DJ, rapper, promoter, record label CEO, etc. I view this cat as the underground version of Master P. If there is an opportunity to create an opportunity then he goes for it. His twitter rants drop knowledge like none other. His label also introduced me to one of my favorite local rappers, ILL Spitta.
C-Dell a.k.a. Odd Blazing When your first two shows ever in life are opening for 2Chainz at the Ambassador in front of a capacity crowd and Super Jam 2012 maybe you're doing something right. This kid has as ridiculous unnatural freestyle ability. His stage show is over flowing with energy and proper presentation. At this very moment his buzz is building more steam, and he is slated to make his run for the summer. He can enter the studio with zero idea's on paper and freestyle an entire record in a very cohesive and well put together manor. He has nothing but pure natural talent in his veins. All the while being backed by the production of Dove Award Nominee Deshaddow. He's still in high school so there is absolutely maximum room for growth here.
12 to 6 Movement This group recently dropped a feature-heavy album and has tore up stages all over the town for many years now.One liveliest most unpredictable groups in the city. Be sure to keep an open for them as they make future moves. Their latest project titled Titties Out is available now -- my favorite track is the joint featuring Joe Budden.
Ruka Puff Once again a living legend, as I can not think of one indie artist that has walked the path of Ruka Puff. In St. Louis, many people believe Ruka is our town's godfather of crunk music. He currently has a rock band by the name of "Toilet Water" and can be seen doing shows throughout the Midwestern region without fail. He is hands-down one of the absolute hardest working artists to ever walk the pavement of the 314. He has dropped mixtapes, full-length albums, and well-known singles. He is not afraid to be himself and has one of the best stage shows you will ever witness. You cannot mention St. Louis hip-hop without mentioning him. One time for my homie Bigga Brown, a devoted and talented member of Ruka's Black 300 crew. Bigga's buzz is stockpiling on the regular as he proves to the city that he has no intent on living in the ever so larger than life shadow of Ruka Puff. The Black 300 is a legendary St. Louis rap click.
Laudie It's truly only a matter of time for Laudie, and thats how I honestly feel. He is a genius rapper/producer and has worked with some of southern hip-hop's most iconic figures. Laudies current single features Rick Ross and is gaining constant traction. In St. Louis he has pretty much created his own genre of hard-hitting club anthems and radio bangers. As a rapper he is only one hit away as this is revealed with his newly released record with Future. Once the stars align and the planets synchronize at the right time it's a given we all know Laudie is out of here.He is currently working with the likes of Luey V, Rockwell Knuckles and many more.
Luey V Coming from Missouri and managing to get national attention is not a easy task. Luey V. has a classic St. Louis record that managed to do just that. We've all danced blindly to his hit "Do Your Own Dance." He's dropped buzz-heavy mixtapes and is a staple in the St. Louis scene. A few years ago at SXSW in Austin Texas Mistah Fab from Oakland California, spotted my St. Louis hat and asked me if I knew Luey V. He is currently working with Laudie and will surely keep delivering quality tunes on all levels.
Keem (Formerly known as Hakeem the Dream) Keem has one of the most classic St. Louis singles of all times. The DJ's play "Thick Wit It" as if it was released yesterday and the crowds still go bananas as if they've never heard it. This record gets the same amount of love as any classic Nelly record does in St. Louis. Keem doesn't get the credit he deserves as a lyricist and it is a shame because he can wholeheartedly go bar for bar with the best of them. Keem has worked with legendary producer Zaytoven (Gucci Mane's go to producer) and has established a fan base in Atlanta on his own accord. His new project, "Made In America" is slated to be released soon and will surely turn heads. He is an icon in this city, and I think most people are guilty of sleeping on his overall talent.
Ducky Hines The Cheers theme music should follow Duck whenever he appears at a hip-hop event. I think everyone knows this dude and he's always in a positive mood. His last mixtape was backed by DJ Shad and managed to garner him some solid attention. He's an overall nice guy from Dellwood but his flow pattern sounds like he's from Queensbridge. He has more work to do if he hopes to become the icon he is destined to be. Keep your eyes and ears open because I am 100% sure he will be here for a while. His Team Voltron crew member Zone Corleone is waiting in the wings for the take over.
Lyfestile I've learned a thing or two from this guy and I've also witnessed him destroy ciphers and live stage shows. If Nato Caliph is Rakim then Lyfe is definitely symbolically equal to KRS-1. He is known for speaking boldly about the state of hip-hop in our city. He is very involved in Slum Fest and is a strong advocate for activism amongst of the artistic community. On some level he's an icon but he's possibly too humble to embrace such a title.
Katt Davis God Bless the Dead. Katt is undoubtedly the best St. Louis rapper of all time. This is solely my opinion and there are a few people high on the food chain of opinions that believe the same exact thing. His untimely demise took him away from us far too soon. His talent still manages to continue shining through the likes of people like his brother Jia Davis and Space. The truth needs no explanation I could write an entire blog about Bits N Pieces. I believe Katt is the GOAT.
Spaide Ripper His first mixtape is a classic on the lyrical end of things. He has also released a classic single "Always." He has records that will always be played in St. Louis and his name is forever being mentioned in barbershop convo's on the West Side.Spaide has worked with the likes of 8ball & MJG and is probably somewhere out of town at this very moment on his indie grind promoting his music.
Playboy Ro Let's talk about classic classic classic singles! "Hey Nicki" or "Hennessy No Ice." Ro is a former of the crew "Out The Blue" and we all know these guys are for this legendary song. Ro is still active and doing his thing, so I advise you to follow him on twitter and get familiar with his new material. I'm sure he appreciates the love this record received and still receives but who doesn't want to introduce his fanbase to new material. As a rapper it's my goal to make something as timeless as "Hennesy No Ice." Chip Smith Repping the legendary One Dime crew. One of the first local groups to brutalize radio and get more spins than you can count. Chip is still highly active and doing his thing so catch him in the streets with mixtapes and new music on deck. He has a very electrifying stage show and is really a joy to watch. He has rhymes on top of rhymes and knows how to put a project together. He still has a massive following and can do numbers at multiple venues in the Lou. His new music is different than that of the One Dime era but it's still jamming with heavy content and enjoyable hooks.
Tez Banga One of my favorite rappers period. I know you're reading that last sentence like, "WTF?" Who would've ever thought that Tef Poe is a Tez Banga fan huh? I like his beat selection and I think with the right resources behind his situation he is money in the bank. St. Louis loves Gucci Mane and Boosie. The truth is Tez and his brother Rell Flexin are capable of competing with the big dogs in this particular lane of hip-hop with ease. Tez is also a producer and makes the perfect backdrop sounds to accompany this kind of music. I download anything he releases and I enjoy the music. Tez and Rell are like Gucci and Waka to me.
Potzee True story I was with Young ILL on the Northside somewhere when I first heard this man. We both thought Potzee was Murphy Lee when we originally heard him. The song was so raw we started pumping our fists in excitement. I hope that doesn't come off disrespectful because Murphy Lee is one of the best St. Louis rappers that ever lived. One might make the argument that Murphy Lee is the best STL lyricist of all times so being compared to a talent of his magnitude shouldn't be taken lightly. We all know the classic record "Good Evening." Potzee is still active and in the process of releasing new music. He had an incredible run a few years ago and I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult for him to duplicate such success.
Scriptz N Screwz The first group I ever met from the East side. These cats are very creative and often do not receive the credit they deserve for being remarkably consistent.Loose Screwz is one of the best producers in the city. Scriptz is one of the most slept-on lyricists I've ever met. They've received love from critically acclaimed bloggers and video spins on MTVU. This is one of the most unique duos ever to do it in this town. In the history book of St. Louis hip-hop they will have their own chapter. SNS is Miles Davis bastardized hip-hop step-child. They have mastered the art of doing exactly WTF they desire to do.
Ajule' I think he may have changed his name recently but I'm not sure. This man is one of the most respected St. Louis rappers ever. I remember being young and hearing people say his name as if he was a worldwide famous super star. From major recording deals to indie deals and powerful singles with the likes of 2Chainz, he has done it all. A street artist with the respect of the streets and the old school Hi Pointe alumni in the palm of his hands. He's had classic battles with the most respected battlers from his era. Some names are permanent in St. Louis hip-hop.
D-Mac Come on now. D-Mac is the Beanie Sigel of St. Louis. One of the most amazing freestylers to ever live. D-Mac has street cred and lyricism cred flawlessly combined. Let me say this again, Mac is one of the most amazing freestylers to ever live. You can't mention D-Mac without mentioning Luqmon the Don. During the Hi Pointe era these cats were God-like figures on the scene. We've all seen Mac go on a ten minute freestyle run as if it was natural. D-Mac is one of the best St. Louis lyricist rappers ever born. He's had epic battles with Skeeme from the Ruckus Crew, Ajule, Fatality and more. Outside of St. Louis he is one of the best freestylers to ever live. This is not a matter of opinion to me. I think this should be embraced as fact.
Ebony Eyez The queen of St. Louis hip hop. Ebony has had major recording deals and national under her belt. She's dropped amazing singles we've all danced to. She's stepped on stages at open mics and went toe to toe with some of the best St. Louis lyricists ever. She's worked with the biggest producers from our town and has had an amazing career despite the up's and down's of the music industry. You can check out her new music videos, and bodacious freestyles via YouTube. Often we forget about the women of this culture and Ebony Eyez diligently embraced the task of making us remember them.
Thelonious Kryptonite First off, I think he has one of the illest rap names ever. You can catch him at Lola every Friday hosting w/ DJ Nune. He is a natural born freestyler with bars for days. He has spurts and moments where he reminds me of Mos Def and Talib Kweli. His stage show is solid, and he seems to always know what he wants to do next when you see him live. Krypto is one of the best in the business. Combine him and DJ Nune at the same place at the same time and it's instant fireworks.
I could continue typing and naming people I deem worthy of being mentioned here. I am not the judge jury or prosecutor of local hip-hop. It's always been my personal goal to showcase our town's hip-hop scene in the most positive light possible. I am really a fan of all the people I mentioned. There are a few artists that I've heard say unsavory things about me, and I write it off as the competitive nature of hip-hop.I mean zero harm to anyone and I'm just doing my best to throw positive energy into the universe.
If we all join forces and think about positivity opposed to negativity all of our situations would immaculately change. I was offered the chance to write a weekly column for RFT Music, and I knew from day one I wanted to use this column to help bring my brothers and sisters in the local hip-hop scene up a few notches.
Sometimes we all get a little tied up in the hustle, and we forget about the basics. We all have humble beginnings. Some of us are a little further along than others but we are all representatives of the unspoken stories of St. Louis. If I forgot anyone I apologize and I think the fans should use this as a chance to have constructive conversations about our favorite St. Louis hip-hop artists. If there are any artists you feel deserve shine mention them in the comments below and I'll be sure to check them out.