PHOTO VIA THE ALBUM ART FOR 24 HOURS TO LIVE
St. Louis rapper Tef Poe is not one to pull any punches.
He's also not afraid of speaking truth to power, even when that truth is absolutely riddled with profanity and intimidation, as proven by his 2014 track "War Cry." Billed as a "Jay Nixon Diss Record," referring to Missouri's former governor, it included such lines as, "The system's full of snakes; the governor can't fix it / With every breath of my body it's fuck Jay Nixon."
A front-line activist in Ferguson and co-founder of the group Hands Up United, Tef used the song to slam those who were in power when Mike Brown was killed. Also in his line of sights on that song: Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, then-Mayor Francis Slay, former St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson, police union business manager Jeff Roorda, former Ferguson Police Chief Tim Jackson, former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and President Barack Obama. Suffice it to say, he "motherfuck"s a fair number of them
Now, some three and a half years later, with new leadership in the city and state, Tef is back with more choice words. Last Monday, he dropped a surprise mixtape, 24 Hours to Live
out of the sky, filled with freestyles recorded all in one day. On one track, over the beat for Tupac's classic "Hit Em Up" — widely recognized as the best diss track of all time — Tef lights into our new governor, mayor and police chief.
"So we gonna do it like this: Eric Greitens, fuck you. Lyda Krewson, fuck you too. And if you down with Eric Greitens, fuck you. If you down with Lyda Krewson, fuck you too. I don't give a fuck. That brand new police chief? Super-di-duper-di house n*gga? Fuck you too. You only gonna be on the job for six months before they get your ass up out of there. Your name ain't even relevant to the conversation."
...and that's just the track's outro, itself an homage to Tupac's song. Several more lines from within the body of the track refer to city and state leaders as well.
From the first verse, dedicated to Mayor Krewson:
And it's fuck Lyda Krewson as a staff and crew / Get it wrong, this is something that I had to do / I'm from the state of Missouri ignore us and get it poppin' / Locked up but I rebound like Dennis Rodman
You a liar and a dirty-ass politician / And I'm on fire in the ghetto so they gotta listen / Young black boys with a murder rap / You see the mayor better spray her; where your burner at?
Greitens is similarly savaged:
Eric Greitens, I know you ain't think your wack ass was gonna get off the hook either n*gga, let's get it / Fuck the governor Eric Greitens, don't get excited / A black mask, my black ass won't get indicted / A war party, you motherfuckers invited / I fear none of you motherfuckers, I'm near-sighted
Your state troopers ain't stopping nobody around here / The police chief ain't got no influence around here / My skin color a target, we want smoke / It ain't no peace, yeah yeah we want smoke / Burn this bitch again n*gga, we want smoke / Call the national guard back, we want smoke / It's fuck you and your momma, we want smoke
Tef has spent less and less time in St. Louis as of late — he spent the fall and winter just outside of Boston, having secured a Nasir Jones Fellowship at Harvard University, and in more recent days is in Denver teaching a class on God and Tupac (naturally). Meanwhile he dropped his latest full-length, Black Julian 2
, in late December, with a follow-up on the horizon this year.
Still, even as he stays busy and stays travelling, he clearly hasn't forgotten where he's from.
Listen to "Hit Em Up 2018" below: