From East to West, regions across the nation have created staple beats, vibes, and aesthetics that represent their sound. The West Coast brought us G-Funk and Death Row. The East Coast gave birth to Public Enemy, Nas, and, of course, HOV himself, Jay Z. The ATL is responsible for the Dirty South, chopped and screwed tones that are still the underlying beats in music from Luda, T.I., and Young Thug today. But, the Midwest is a special hub of its own. Granted, Midwest hip-hop isn’t nearly as iconic as the aforementioned epicenters, but particular regions seem to have a talent for crafting some of hip-hop’s catchiest hooks and beats. The Midwest's first claim to fame came in the mid-90s with rappers like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Twista, Tech N9ne, Atmosphere, Eminem, and many, many more. These artists came from all over, encompassing every sound that defines Midwest music today.
But, St. Louis is special. St. Louis is known as being the epicenter of some of hip-hop’s most iconic names: Chingy, Nelly, Huey, J-Kwon, and so many more artists. This era of hip-hop brought us “Hot in Herre,” “Right Thurr,” “Chain Hang Low,” and tracks that will forever have that #tbt feel, suiting any club playlist. But, St. Louis isn’t just known for Nellyville, it’s the epicenter of new sound that has lead to some hooks and beats that will stay in hip-hop history forever. St. Louis was the origin of the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”—the most OG and easily recognizable hip-hop track ever. Music like this allowed the Midwestern music scene to segue into a more popularized pop sound, leaving us with hits like “Tipsy” by J-Kwon and “Pop, Lock and Drop It” by Huey.
A lot has happened in music since the early 2000s. We took a look at the St. Louis music scene to update you on the latest artists emerging from the musical mecca. Peep the list!
Bo and the Locomotive
Bo and the Locomotive is a blues-pop band hailing from St. Louis. The group was touring the last couple of years, and finally released their second album, It's All Down Here from Here, an EP available on their Bandcamp. They're obscure and kind of indie.
Mvstermind is part of a sick, up-and-coming hip-hop collective, MME (Mediate, Meditate, Elevate). The group’s message is to push musicians beyond their music, creating all-encompassing artists and collectives. This collective is comprised of Lyrique, Ciej, Con, and Dante. Mvstermind, the 24-year-old rapper and producer, intends to connect his life philosophies into his music. “We’re all spiritual people, and it’s like a form of therapy” he told STL Today in an interview last month. He first garnered the attention of fans with his “80-D,” a track off his latest full length A.D.D. The vibe is fresh, new hip-hop beats with ethereal undertones and competitive flows. “80-D” was released back in 2013, and has left fans anxiously waiting for what’s to come of the St. Louis collective.
Kenny Knox is the newest gangster rapper rising out of St. Louis. With his style and approach to lyricism, he’s created a distinctive delivery that is pretty hard to ignore. And wait until you hear him spit, with his aggressive, hard, and reinventing gangster rap. He leaked his last EP, 3Pac, a highly anticipated project that’s currently available on iTunes. His tracks range from story-telling narratives, filled with insightful details that truly educate the audience, to hard-hitting tracks that resemble, well, Pac himself. Check out his last hit, “It’s Dark Outhure” featuring another St. Louis emcee, Tef Doe.
Nelly is the rapper from St. Louis. Originally a member of group St. Lunatics back in the ’90s, Nelly embarked on his solo career in 2000 with Country Grammar, one of the most iconic albums of that era, coining the Midwest hip-hop sound. The album was known for “Country Grammar,” “E.I.,” “Ride wit Me,” and more. Although it's been a minute since Nelly dropped an album, he hasn't stopped making music. He's been busy filming his latest TV show Nellyville on BET, starting a label aptly titled "RECORDS" and dropped a new single, “The Fix.” In fact, Nelly told Big Boy on L.A.’s REAL 92.3 that he's set to drop an album this year.
"The Fix" is the first release from RECORDS produced by DJ Mustard. It kind of sounds like a 2k16 remix of "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye. It's definitely more of an R&B feel from Nelly, and, of course, what else can we expect on a track featuring Jeremih—an interesting combination that sparks curiosity as to what to expect next from Nelly.