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Thursday, 18 April 2013 12:33

The Crews (featuring Doorway)

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Crews are not a new concept, they are an institution of hip-hop that have been around nearly as long as the music itself. From TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) in the West coast to MMG (Maybach Music Group) in the East, crews are ubiquitous for a reason: they serve as a means for artists to come together to reap benefits based on a set of similarities, whether it be geographical location, style, or friendship. These benefits are vast; crews are safe havens where artists can freely express themselves to other individuals who are in the same situation, allowing an expansion of creativity in a supportive environment. They act as hype men at your concerts, give you free features and collaborate on projects, and they are group therapy for the struggle to get yourself heard. In this new blog series, I'll be highlighting several well-known crews from the Saint Louis area. First up this week is Doorway, the kings of East Saint Louis, and the light of hip-hop from the IL side.

Doorway are hip-hop veterans and have rightfully secured themselves as a constant force in the scene through their music and actions. It should be no surprise that year after year, they're nominated for best hip-hop group in the town (they even won the award in 2012). They feature a diverse cross-section of talent from the Illinois metro area of Saint Louis, and these fellas have the ability to work well together while also standing out individually as artists. The respect for this crew runs deep, whereas some may be isolated and refuse to work with outsiders, Doorway members are continually featured on some of the best projects not associated with themselves. To better understand the vibe of Doorway, one must look to its members.

Nick Menn (the artist formerly known as WhiteOut) is the most versatile of the bunch. Able to produce pot-induced, chill-max smoke anthems to spazzed-out, hype energy freestyles and everything in-between, Nick's rap abilities know no bounds. The real brilliance of his style is that he is able to substantively speak to issues that are important to him, whether it be the contradictory laws of our country or a personal story about his past relationships. At the same time, he is never too serious to the point where he sounds preachy or self-absorbed, able to maintain perspective about himself and his place while delivering the message home.

If they weren't different races, you'd think RT-FaQ would be Nick's brother, as where you see one, you typically see the other. Though these two are close-knit, RT-FaQ offers a different set of qualities to the Doorway crew. Musically gifted, RT has not only perfected his precise flow, but also he is a talented drummer who often performs live at Doorway sets. He is the storyteller of the crew who can easily make you understand his life and envelope you in his world with thoughtful tracks that are devoid of the egotistical nonsense that has recently stereotyped hip-hop.

Whereas Nick and RT lean more towards the serious, SD TheDizzleMan is the character of the crew. He has seemingly endless energy, which propels him to perform oddball shenanigans on and off the stage. SD is probably the best hype man in Saint Louis, in tune with the atmosphere of the crowd and able to make the audience feel every Doorway track like each is their favorite. Not to say that SD doesn't have a softer side, as when the track calls for it, he can offer deep commentary of things that are important to him.

Finally, L-Gifted rounds out Doorway with his strength and maturity. His quiet and humble persona would make you think he'd be one of the last people in the room to be a hip-hop artist, but once he starts spitting, you immediately realize he has the gift. With a focus on real talk and the daily grind of life, L-Gifted's story is one that connects with most of us, making his music accessible, relateable, and heart-felt.

To see the whole crew in action, check out Doorway's "Out There" video, which won best video of the year for 2012.

And to learn more about Doorway and hear more of their music, head on over to their killer website.

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