Life or Death by Music

Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 was released this Tuesday, June 5th and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get War Machine 2 here.

Every week in I'm Just A Rapper Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them. The boldface below is mine.

I have dedicated my life to music and the pursuit of happiness through all things that are righteous. Last year I made a ridiculous vow to myself that I would jump off a bridge if my career didn't make a turn for the better. I've always had a decent buzz and respect from my peers in the music scene. I just wanted to take it further and start seeing progress on a level that resonated with the industry.

Right now I am running a marathon in the streets of St. Louis with the War Machine 2 campaign. Originally I had no idea how we would promote this project. The War Machine 2 mixtape has been seen more places on the Internet than I can count. I gave myself 365 days to put my career on the course I believed would help me accomplish my goals and eventually spread my name throughout the region. I don't know how serious I was or if I was even legitimately sincere about the notion of jumping off the bridge.

I read a lot about hip-hop success stories. J-Kwon said something very similar about his intentions to jump off a bridge within a year if he didn't get a record deal. I always wondered what type of desperation it takes to achieve the impossible. It worked for Kwon, so I said to myself, "Maybe I need to put myself in this mode of thinking." I don't have the heart to kill myself so I doubt if I would have gone through with it, but I was hungry and needed something to move. I saw J-Kwon at Lola on 4th of July. This was actually our first time meeting. We shook hands and greeted each other as if it was a long overdue photo op. I wanted to ask him a few questions about his hunger prior to success, but it would've been weird. I'm already known for being crazy, and I just decided to shut up and act normal for the night. His story inspired me like so many other great hip-hop success stories.

I signed my management contract with Overdose Ent. in January. I can't go into the full story, but my situation with the company is more of a partnership than anything else. Typically an artist signs a contract and focuses solely on the music. My situation is slightly different because I'm as involved in the management process as the actual managers are. It's often stressful but even more rewarding than a normal artist and management relationship. I'm completely hands-on with anything attached to my name. The spirit of a hustler runs deep in my veins. There's so much I want to do in this lifetime and I feel like music is the portal to those things. I want Reggie Clemons to get a fair trial. I want to unify my city and give them something they can believe in again. I come from a small city and we've always had to fight harder than the next person for our shine. I come from St. Louis that's what we do. St. Louisans have changed the world, and by all means I intend to extend this legacy. It's bigger than a few rap lyrics for me, and I feel this in my bones.

In January I put my life in hands of two gentlemen that swore to me they would do everything possible to help me get my goals accomplished. Scariest thing I've ever done concerning my career. Prior to this I was completely self-managed with help from my trusty assistant Justin a.k.a. Macgyver. I call him Macgyver because he once fixed my bathroom sink at a house party. He also repaired my unstable ceiling fan at the same party. He signed up to help me out shortly after we released Money Never Sleeps. Tech Supreme also helped promote the Tef Poe brand as much as anyone.

We pushed the rock as far as we could push it for a year or so and found ourselves running out of options. I've worked all types of odd jobs. I've lived in places you wouldn't imagine. I've travelled across the country like Forrest Gump while attempting to find myself. I was educated at expensive private schools as a youth and often I was the only black kid in most of my classes. I don't know what the word normal means. I think normality is what you make it. I chose the life I chose because it made sense to me. I love music and this love has consumed me to the point of no return. In my young life I have seen it all, done it all.

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