On this blog, we've mentioned Tef Poe multiple times. A native of Pine Lawn, a small, impoverished community within the Saint Louis metropolitan area, Tef has lived under tough circumstances, seeing members of his family imprisoned or killed. Despite his difficult upbringing, he has propelled himself forward through writing, which allows him to attempt to make sense of his surroundings -- from injustice and discrimination in the world to more specific and personal struggles of his life. His latest work of music, The Hero Killer, is a critique of present-day hip-hop and an exploration of where he fits within what is commonly refer to as "the game," or the hip-hop community at large. I recently completed work on a music video for Tef Poe's single "Rap F##ked Up". Disclaimer: this blog post contains mature/explicit content.
Honing one's videography skills takes time; years of experience makes camera equipment seem second nature, a third hand. Shots come together naturally, and there is rarely an awkward pause or moment in determining what looks good and what doesn't. Ideas come before production, and they are the great equalizer. Before anything can be actually captured, something must be decided: what to shoot, the look and feel of the video, its purpose and point. Creating concepts for a video cannot really be taught. It is something that comes creatively from within an individual. There are ways to provoke creativity in visualizing a concept, but ultimately it's not a skill. Videos with great technique and production can have terrible plots -- the proof of this is at the box office every week. A meaningful or impactful idea supersedes the technical aspects of videography, and thus, it is the most important component of any video.
Hip-hop is a unique genre. Unlike other styles of music where there is a band or group of individuals creating music together, there are two, typically separate components that go into creating hip-hop music: a producer and a rapper. Rappers usually get all of the credit and the spotlight because it's their face and voice associated with the track. Producers are the people who sample different songs, create intricate drum loops, and add additional keys, horns, or guitars that comprise the musical element of a hip-hop track. They send these completed projects, or beats, out to a number of different rappers who listen and pick beats that fit their style or vision as an artist. Rarely do you see one producer for an entire album or one producer only working with one rapper. It's an interesting game and collaboration effort between multiple people that can result in some pretty cool music. This post is to highlight some of Saint Louis's best producers.
Being a hip-hop artist in Saint Louis isn't something reserved only for men, as there are a number of strong female MCs that have produced major records with far-reaching success. The culture of the genre can be particularly demeaning towards women as it is particularly dominated by male rappers who constantly feel the need to prove themselves and prop up their ego to appeal to potential listeners. With that said, a female artist in hip-hop immediately faces obstacles to be taken seriously as the culture dictates that this profession is best left to the boys. Three local rappers provide contradictory evidence to that assertion and show that gender is meaningless when it comes to talent.
Tef Poe is the face of Saint Louis hip-hop. He recently wrapped up a stint on the BET Show 106th & Park, where he successfully defeated four opponents in a weekly freestyle competition. Last week he performed in front of a sold-out crowd at the Old Rock House and had one of his best performances to date, imbuing his relentless energy into the bodies of the audience who immediately connected to his music, whether or not they had previously heard it. A new project in the works, currently entitled Cheer for the Villain, is being exclusively produced by DJ Burn One, who is one of the biggest names in Southern hip-hop. To help promote his latest mixtape The Hero Killer, I recently wrapped up a 15-hour video shoot with Tef Poe over the weekend for his single "Rap F##ked Up".
Since December 2011, I have created seventeen music videos (to date) for hip-hop artists in the Saint Louis area. From newcomers to experienced rap game veterans, I've worked with a variety of individuals who are at different points in their careers, but all desire the same product: visuals for their music. Rappers exploit multiple avenues for marketing themselves and their craft to gain exposure, to build a fan base, and to make it big in the industry. By far the most popular marketing ploy is the music video, due to a number of recent technological advances within the last decade.
With 2012 in the rear view mirror, a year in review summary is typically appropriate. For Saint Louis rappers, 2012 represented many successes in several careers that are in varying states of experience. A new tandem released a stellar debut album with fresh production and a clear understanding of hip-hop. A Saint Louis heavyweight proved that sophomore slumps are a thing of the past with a huge hit sequel. The most innovative artist in the scene redefined the genre as a viable artform with his unique delivery. This post contains my favorite hip-hop mixtapes/albums from last year that were created by Saint Louis natives.
The rumor that an Ikea store is being built in Fenton where the Chrysler plant once stood is just that.. a rumor. A spokesperson for Ikea told StlToday it isn't true. He also denied they were going to build at Northwest Plaza and at Hampton and 40, but he didn't deny that they were going to build at the nearly vacant MidAmerica Airport on the East side. So make want you want of that. I don't think they could be more obvious, unless maybe if someone actually asked them if they were going to build at MidAmerica Airport.