What's Really Wrong with Hip-Hop?



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. Get War Machine 2 here.

Every week in I'm Just A Rapper Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.

Hip-hop is overflowing with self-righteous contradictions.

It all started with my belief that Bun B. deserves way more respect than we give him. I was sitting on my couch one night thinking about Bun B. and his rank on my top ten list. He's one of the most respected rappers alive, the man deserves so much more credit than most of us give him, it's just flat out insane.

1. Hip-hop has grown into this soft, delicate genre, explaining everything you feel and justifying your personal opinions about the culture to satisfy the taste buds of pricks that probably started listening to UGK in 2009. I admit this rant may have a whiny overtone. If you've never heard an 8Ball & MJG record, then don't consider yourself a hip-hop fan or hip-hop head. I'm sick and tired of all the politically correct scrap flat-out. I was born in 1997, so I don't know the lyrics blah blah blah. Greetings, you self-absorbed music genre destroyer, this is probably your excuse for everything under the sun concerning not doing research about the music you're toying with. Most of the Motown catalogue dropped when I was just an undeveloped unborn idea. Every Urban music label in the world is modeled after Motown Records, so just maybe I should possibly learn a thing or two about the Motown dynasty era.

2. I have nothing but hatred for part-time DJs that are still actively booking themselves at the most premiere nightclubs possible. Here's my logic:

You're at home raising the kids, playing Yankee doodle, flying kites at Forest Park and working at Bank of America. You don't download or buy new music unless it's some novelty alternative stuff that only 60 people on the planet listen to. I respect your lifestyle choice but I have a problem with you spinning the records tonight at the club because you have no idea WTF we are actually listening to at this current moment in the culture. I am young and new rappers are born daily, new music is being made daily. I want to hear it and I want to witness women dancing to it. I want to be tipsy in the club yelling, "Hell yeah, f$%king right!!

I am being robbed because I cannot create youthful memories about hearing the new Krit and Curren$y in the club. These are the new classics and it's OK to embrace this. I am also disgruntled by this because it means artists such as myself are making music for nothing. What's the point if you're not going to press play on the new music? I'm busting my @$$ going to war for the city and can't even get you to give me a look. I'm willing to ride for the real DJs, people like Stan Da Man, Sinnamin, DJ Needles, DJ Reminisce, Cuddy, Sir Thurl, Trackstar, Chan, Nune and more. I have much love and admiration for people that actually play the new stuff. I mean, even if you're not playing the new national stuff at least play the new records being released by respectable local artists.

I remember when "Showstealers" first started heating up on the airwaves. I went to a local DJ who shall remain nameless in this rant and asked him if he had it. I purposely gave this guy a hard copy of the CD twice before I brought this up. At the time Cuddy and a few other DJs were pushing hard for me in the clubs and radio airwaves. It's no secret St. Louis' underground hip-hop scene has different departments. This guy is one of those DJs who has been in the same department as me for years. I finally started merging into the club/radio scene, but I wanted to make sure the deejays that were already familiar with my brand were bumping the single. I was ecstatic about finally being in position to reach out to deejays in sectors that were different than mine but in order for it to work I needed the guys from my branch of the scene to also push the record.

I go to this guy and ask him has he heard the record and he says, "I didn't even know you had a new single." Some kind of way this is supposed to be acceptable. I'm just supposed to go home and bite the bullet because after all he's a DJ, and I'm just a rapper. I always hear people screaming respect the DJ. I did my job as an artist but he didn't do his and download or in his case upload the damn single. What about respect the culture? What about respect the talent of the local artist? What about you playing some new music? What about you actually having a clue about what is going on in the music climate of the youth? What about getting off your high horse and eliminating your comfort zone? If you're not full time with it then why the hell are you still booking yourself and playing with our intelligence? This segment of the rant is potentially dangerous because an artist is never supposed to speak negatively of the DJs. But flat-out man, let's be honest: if you're not playing ASAP Rocky then you're damn sure not playing Tef Poe.

Unfortunately, I can probably die at peace if I never hear certain hip-hop classics again. They have been played out to the point where I don't even get excited when I hear them. Most people aren't spinning rare classics but are actually spinning the same exact songs every damn week, day, hour and minute of our lives. The easy way out of this is to assume that everyone likes listening to wack sh^t, so you'll preserve your dignity by playing the golden oldies. I'm not totally against it, but can we hear some new records mixed in with the oldies?

Here are the facts: When I go out I want to hear the stuff they play on the radio alongside a few jams that are in my iPod but not on the radio. I'm surfing through a thousand hip-hop blogs a day. I want to hear some of these records that my friends are playing on Spotify when I go out. I don't expect your playlist to mimic the radio's playlist song for song because we all know the radio's playlist isn't the greatest pound for pound. They play ASAP Rocky at the "crunk music" clubs every week now. These types of clubs typically play knuck if you buck type of music all day. Too much of anything is a bad thing. But this is how hip-hop has always worked. You like West Coast gangster rap and John Doe doesn't. Somehow we find a way to all co-exist and call it a day. We were always taught to view the less open-minded people as the enemy. Now, the so-called enemy is becoming more open minded about new music than the so-called good guys.

Here's the sleeper cell you didn't see taking place right before your very eyes. While you were taking the kids to daycare we were out here fighting to keep so called "real" hip-hop alive. It took us some time but we have finally started to get the train back on track. It's not perfect but all the hipsters are bumping Ab Soul right now. Nas has been featured on the last 3 Young Money releases. Nas also dropped a modern day classic this week. Your time machine ran out of gas, you're stuck in the future whether you like it or not so get off your high horse and join us.

3. Stop using the term "real hip-hop." I think P. Diddy's No Way Out is a classic, and I feel the same about Project Pat's debut album. I also feel like Wu-Tang Clan deserves a museum built in their honor. It's all hip-hop, and some of it makes no sense to you.

But none of it made any sense to Kool Herc's parents when he invented it. I think Nicki Minaj is a creative genius in my humble opinion. The female rap genre was dead on a commercial level and she brought it back. The same people complaining about her haven't got off of their behinds to spend one dime on a Jean Grae album so shut the hell up. Jean Grae is one of the best rappers alive, so this is in no form or fashion meant as disrespect to Jean or Nicki. I am a fan of them both. My point is this: everyone does all this ranting about saving hip-hop but hardly any of you donated money to Kool Herc's medical bills when he asked for help. Jay Dilla's mother is going around the country pleading for help with his medical bills as well. The "real" hip-hop demographic consists of some of the fakest music lovers alive. Let us all complain about the radio, but notice we're not buying or playing any new music from any respectable rapper that's not on the radio. My case and point can be proven by the fact that most of us relied on radio to introduce us to J. Cole and Big Sean as if they hadn't dropped mix tapes prior to the big singles. As an artist this offends me because right now I'm a long way from having a Top 40 hit record. If you want to support my music in most cases you're going to have to actually play it on your own free will. Instead, most people are going to simply wait until every blog puts them on hype notice about the music. Which is cool because I understand the process, but I hate the self-righteous fan that says f$%^k radio and still gets most of his/her new music from the machine that's attached to the radio. Shut up with all of this ridiculous complaining. All of you watch the BET Awards with glee. If these mechanisms didn't exist you wouldn't even bother listening to certain artists. The public enjoys being spoon fed by the machine hence this is our current creation process for pop stars and pop music icons.

Wiz Khalifa was a god on the Internet prior to "Black and Yellow". Thanks to the proper moves from the machine doing what they are meant to do Wiz will die filthy rich. We can't say I hate radio and then in the same breath rely on it to create tomorrow's stars. We sound like some damn idiots. Yes, I want to be on the radio every millisecond of the day. Sign me up!! Wendy Day says she won't shop artists that aren't spinning in all five of their neighboring states. This means the fans in all five neighboring states must be in support of these records being on radio.

If you say you hate the radio, I'm going to say shut the hell up since you're probably the reason it's alive and well. I hate frosted corn flakes and you don't see me laying down outside the Kellogg's cereal factory begging Tony the Tiger to pour Frosty Flakes in my mouth.

4. My next rant is about hipster fans that are too cool for school at hip-hop concerts. First, I want to say get over yourself. Second, I want to say get over yourself. Let's put on our illest shoes and dopest fits, make our way down to a hip-hop show, pay to get in and act like we're too damn cool to enjoy the performances. The dumbest part of this entire scenario is paying to go somewhere you don't actually want to be. You, my friend are a true social genius. Still, I probably shouldn't complain too much because at least you took the effort to leave the house and actually come to a concert in the flesh.Performance venues are closing left and right because people no longer feel the need to attend live performances. So I must applaud you for coming out.

5. Next, I would like to say rappers need to learn about the hip-hop culture past and present. Doug E. Fresh walks in the room and says, "Hey I've heard about you, you're dope." Your dumb, uneducated, culture-lacking behind has no idea who the hell Doug E. Fresh is. This is a problem because most of the people cutting the checks are legendary for a reason. Everyone in the industry knows each other but they don't know you. I've watched MTV Made specials were legendary rappers show up to coach kids and they have no clue who's knocking on their door. The people that were here before you are more than likely the ones with the power, relationships, and business sense. Every genre has legends yet in hip-hop we seem to think it's okay to write ours off and throw them away.

Here's the reality about the current state of hip-hop. The music is actually okay; in reality we the people that are responsible for keeping it alive seem to hardly ever do our job. The music is in good hands, now we need the listeners to step our game up. The problem is people have real problems, and for the most part we all love music but we really don't have time to care about the subject like we once did. This is a youth-based culture, but it's morphing and transforming into something different daily. Nas just dropped the grown man's version of Illmatic. We have to show support for this music if we want to hear more like it. As one of the new school leaders in this city, I am saddened by the lack of support we receive from certain members of the generation before us. Hip-hop has always been a community-based art form lets all do our part to keep alive and vibrant. I challenge to think critically about the music you endorse as a fan. I also challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and rekindle the emotions that originally made you fall in love with the music.

Picks of the week: Royce 5'9 -- Bar Exam 1 Nas -- Life Is Good Whiteout -- Kush and Kung Fu Vega Heartbreak -- Big Dreams, Small City The Roots -- Undun Lil-Reese -- Don't Like King Louie -- Showtime

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