St. Louis rapper/activist Tef Poe and partner Rockwell Knuckles were slated to hit the road with Hip-Hop mainstay Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and EL-P) during the week of the Darren Wilson Indictment decision. In fact the decision dropped the night they performed in Saint Louis and in response Tef Poe cancelled his participation in the duration of the tour. Tef Poe has been deemed one of the most critical voices to emerge since the earliest phases of the Ferguson unrest.
Inspired by the emotional outburst that saw Ferguson, MO being engulfed in flames last August, Tef Poe called his manager Jay Stretch, backed out of the tour, and travelled to ground zero to help sustain the Ferguson Rebellion. “There was no turning back after that. I made the same decision last August when things were a lot more unstable. I made the call to not go with the band to Detroit the next day and everyone supported my decision.” says Tef Poe while pacing the dimly lit Suburban Studios on St. Louis’ Southside. “It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but it felt right at the time, and I’ve never regretted it.”
The recently crowned 106 & Park Freestyle Friday Champion (March 2014) and The Source Magazine Unsigned Hype Alum was just hitting his stride when he made the choice to not get on the tour bus in August and once again he found himself in the same position the night of the indictment . Swept up in what has now become a global #BlackLivesMatter phenomenon, his action packed delivery and thought provoking lyricism quickly become an asset in the grassroots movement driven by high energy marches and spontaneous “turn ups”.
After months of protests, including one nonviolent action in a St. Louis Walmart which sees him still possibly facing felony charges, speaking before the United Nations, a trip to Palestine, and even a 30 minute interview on BBC’s HardTalk, Tef Poe returned to the studio.
Forever changed by his experiences, his art has matured. Battle tested by tear gas and long nights staring down riot police, his new music challenges the traditional notions of what it means to be a politically conscious rapper. Not just reporting the news, Tef Poe’s upcoming album War Machine 3 dropping June 19th gives listeners a specially guided tour of life on the Ferguson frontlines. More layered and nuanced than the traditional political record, Tef Poe challenges the status quo and verbally spits in the man’s face, all while finding time to discuss love, heartbreak and deadly street beefs.
“I’ve experienced so much since last August, and wanted to make sure that I was able to capture the emotions of the moment,” says Tef Poe. “America will never be the same because some kids from Ferguson stood up, and I am doing the best I can to document our movement.”
With production by up and coming beatmakers like Bizness Boi, Derelle Rideout, MCF Beats, and Trifeckta, War Machine 3 will see Tef Poe reintroducing himself to the music world after regaining critics attention during this past March’s SXSW (Allhiphop.com said Tef Poe gave one of the “standout” performances of the mega music festival.)
“Prince”, the first single from War Machine 3 will drop this Tuesday, May 12th. The song was produced by MCF Beats and the album artwork was painted by Jasmine Baramore.
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