Ayo, what’s good? This here is where we put the spotlight on the city that don’t get the shine it deserves when it comes to rap game, but it’s been low-key killing it since day one.
Yeah, we talkin’ ’bout St. Louis, the Show-Me State, straight outta the heartland of America. It’s been showing us what’s up for years now, dropping some of the tightest rhymes and freshest beats in the hip-hop game.
We’ve seen legends rise up from these streets, making their mark on the rap world and turning the 314 into a hotbed of hip-hop talent.
Let’s dive into the top 10 that repped the STL the hardest, puttin’ on for their city and letting the world know that St. Louis ain’t just flyover country.
10. Prince Ea
Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince Ea, is a multifaceted artist hailing from St. Louis.
While he’s not just a rapper, also being a spoken word artist and activist, his influence on the rap scene can’t be overlooked.
His music often discusses socio-political issues, blending catchy beats with insightful lyrics.
Prince Ea has used his platform to spread awareness on numerous issues, including climate change and mental health.
His innovative approach to hip-hop coupled with his intellectualism has garnered him an extensive following on social media platforms.
9. Aye Verb
Aye Verb, born Chaz Duncan, has made a name for himself not just as a rapper, but as one of the best battle rappers from the Midwest.
His aggressive style, wordplay, and impactful performances have solidified his status in the battle rap arena.
While battle rap remains his mainstay, Aye Verb’s music releases show his versatility and ability to craft thoughtful lyrics over captivating beats.
His authenticity and raw energy undoubtedly echo the spirit of St. Louis hip-hop.
8. Fresco Kane
Emerging from the East St. Louis area, Fresco Kane (previously known as Gena) is a rapper who’s shown his potential with energetic anthems and catchy hooks.
He became well-known with his hit “Dip in the Club,” which received heavy airplay. Fresco’s style is characterized by high energy and an infectious flow, which makes his music resonate with a wide audience.
Signed to Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label in the early 2010s, Fresco represents the city’s newer wave of rap talent.
Smino, born Christopher Smith Jr., is a rapper and singer with a unique style that fuses hip-hop, soul, and funk.
His lyrical prowess and soulful sound have set him apart from many of his peers.
Smino’s debut album, “blkswn,” was met with critical acclaim, praising his creative lyrics and the cohesive, futuristic production.
Smino’s music reflects his experiences growing up in St. Louis, and his innovative artistry has marked him as a distinct voice in the rap scene.
J-Kwon, born Jerrell C. Jones, is best known for his 2004 hit single “Tipsy.”
The catchy club anthem brought national attention to the then-teenaged rapper, making him a household name.
Despite facing a tough upbringing, J-Kwon channeled his experiences into his music, creating tracks that resonated with fans across the country.
Although his career has had ups and downs, J-Kwon’s contributions to St. Louis hip-hop can’t be underestimated.
Born Howard Bailey Jr., Chingy burst onto the national stage with his 2003 hit single “Right Thurr.”
His debut album “Jackpot” sold two million copies, showcasing his blend of catchy hooks and Southern-inspired beats.
Chingy’s music embodies the party spirit and is often filled with St. Louis vernacular, cementing his place as one of the city’s top ambassadors in hip-hop.
He continued to make hits like “Holidae In” and “One Call Away,” making him a significant figure in the early 2000s hip-hop scene.
4. Murphy Lee
As part of the St. Lunatics, Murphy Lee made a name for himself alongside Nelly.
He helped shape the distinctive sound of St. Louis rap with his unique style and catchy lyrics.
His debut album, “Murphy’s Law,” went platinum, and the hit single “Wat Da Hook Gon Be” showcased his ability to create irresistible hip-hop anthems.
Murphy Lee’s contributions have been pivotal in bringing the St. Louis hip-hop scene to the mainstream.
Another integral part of the St. Lunatics, Ali played a vital role in the group’s success.
Born Ali Kenyatta Jones, he was known for his distinctive deep voice and charismatic presence.
Although he might not have been as commercially successful as some of his peers, Ali’s influence on St. Louis hip-hop is undeniable.
His leadership within the St. Lunatics helped pave the way for the group’s unique style and nationwide success.
2. St. Lunatics
The St. Lunatics, consisting of members Ali, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, City Spud, Slo Down, and of course, Nelly, are nothing short of a St. Louis institution.
Their collaborative spirit and unique style brought the St. Louis hip-hop scene to the forefront of mainstream music in the early 2000s.
Their hits like “Midwest Swing” and “Free City” showcased the raw talent and distinctive flair that the group brought to the hip-hop scene.
Each member contributed a unique style, but their synergy is what truly made them shine.
Cornell Haynes Jr., better known as Nelly, is indisputably the most successful rapper to come out of St. Louis.
His debut album, “Country Grammar,” went diamond, a rare feat in the music industry, and his follow-up, “Nellyville,” included timeless hits like “Hot in Herre” and “Dilemma.”
Nelly’s blend of catchy hooks, melodic flows, and Midwest swagger made him a cultural phenomenon.
His influence extended beyond music, venturing into acting and entrepreneurship.
His impact on popularizing the St. Louis hip-hop scene is unquestionable, and his success story continues to inspire many emerging artists from the area.
And that’s the word. From Nelly to Chingy, Ali to the St. Lunatics, these are the St. Louis titans that pushed the boundaries, changed the game, and let their city shine.
Every single one of these artists brought their own unique sound, and repped the 314 in their own way, taking the spirit of their city and embedding it into the hip-hop culture.
They are the kings and queen of their city, the voices of the streets, and the beat of the heartland.
Respect to the STL for giving us these legendary figures, and here’s to the next generation of St. Louis rappers carrying the torch.
St. Louis, stand up!