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 project The Hero Killer was released on January 21st and will followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.
Next Tuesday at this time the polls will once again open themselves and the epic battle for the St.Louis Mayoral race will enter into the final-stage showdown. I've openly endorsed Lewis Reed as the candidate that will gain my vote (sorry, Jimmy Mathews, but it's not going happen). To be honest I've had mixed emotions about this mayoral race, but in the name of progress and pushing onward in the right direction, I'll try my best to focus on the positive.
I feel as if we need a mayor that understands the power of reforming and organizing North St. Louis in the political spectre. I'm personally fed up with the predictable repetition that comes through the door with King Slay and his cronies. The beauty of my position is I refuse to take a stance that requires me to be politically correct. This allows me to be a bit more honest about the gut-wrenching emotions attached to my perspectives. I am a musician, and timeless music is almost always politically incorrect because it correlates with how we honestly feel. Honesty is simply one of those things you can't fake -- which is rare in today's society, because anything else can be duplicated or recreated.
I believe my generation is searching for something that is a break away from the normal. We've heard the speeches that basically end up producing zero results. We've also heard the speeches about the speeches that end up producing zero results. On the real, King Slay's commercial on Hot 104.1, with Lacy (Lazy) Clay narrating, is wack. I mean really we're talking about the Mayoral race in 2013 and you guys are really still boasting about cleaning up lead paint? Come on son, this is not 1986 and we really could give two flying fucks about the fact that Slay cleaned up some lead paint. We actually don't even know if he's the person truly responsible for doing this because of how this type of situation historically plays out. Someone else gets the job done, and then the guy on TV the most takes the credit. But ultimately, who amongst my generation of voters gives a damn about your lead paint initiatives? If you wanted my vote you would've reformed the Justice Center, which is basically a Downtown St. Louis concentration camp overflowing with diseases and immoral treatment of primarily African American males.Lazy Clay and King Slay really don't give two shits about that. This commercial is probably the most work Lazy Clay has done all year long. In the era of Facebook's reign we're all practically required to show up to parties and special events our friends are throwing in the name of a photo opportunity, so when we see politicians doing this at political rallies we recognize it with more disgust than our parents may have. King Slay was booed at the Trayvon Martin rally on the South side because people can so easily spot a photo op off the fly now. The community met in the rain to pay homage to a deceased young man that fell victim to a racial-profiling mad gunman. This just wasn't the time to bomb us with political rhetoric in the name of going home to do nothing.
I myself was racially profiled while working for King Slay in his own neighborhood. Long story short, I was hired by the mayor's office to canvass against the a proposition which would have removed the STL earnings tax. I supported this cause because without the earnings tax certain institutions in our city would collapse. I was hired to canvass in King Slays neighborhood, pass out leaflets and raise awareness of this issue by knocking on doors. In the end my co-worker and myself were hemmed up by the cops after some ridiculous person in this neighborhood called the police on us for being two black guys, in a predominantly non-black portion of South city, knocking on doors. Some idiot, whom I hope was elderly, called the cops on us. The reason I hope they were elderly is because I hope they soon died afterwards from a heart attack or old age. I also wouldn't really mind if that aforementioned idiot is currently burning in hell.
The Mayor met us back at the office and he was sincerely pissed off, and I can honestly say he was understanding about the situation.The cops were looking to arrest us but through the grace of God it didn't happen. Slay did do his best to fix the situation but while I was standing at the Trayvon rally something inside me couldn't help but think "this same exact thing takes place in your own neighborhood daily." He hasn't addressed these forms of profiling with his very own neighbors, so sitting in front of a crowd of people and trying to relate to their pain over the subject simply doesn't come across as sincere. Generations before ours might've witnessed this and kept their thoughts about it to themselves, but today we know a photo opportunity when we see it.
Sometimes for us Generation Next-ers it's all about new energy. We've had the same exact guy in office for far too long now. New energy brings with it a wave of new ideas and new people to execute those ideas. Twitter is dying now but older folks don't recognize it yet so two years from now they'll start bombarding Instagram. By then Instagram will be dead because our world moves quicker than the previous generations' ever did. We have a disposable vote in most of their eyes because we're young and dumb and likely won't show up to the polls to begin with. Here's a curveball you probably didn't see coming, but young people desire to be politically active and will vote if you give us a reason to. The elders in our community have almost developed a hands-off type of attitude when it comes to the way they have decided to deal with us when political activity is involved. The black vote in this city primarily resides in the hands of North City. Right now the North side is crying for help. The chances remain high that no matter who is elected, next to nothing will change in the day-to-day lives of people residing on the North side. Slay's family built their empire in South City, so he understands this portion of the city a little more than he does the North (in my humble opinion). Lewis Reed could potentially represent the type of newness the people of this community desperately need. One of the biggest problems with Saint Louis as a city to me is the fact that the citizens here embrace stale and old energy without a problem. When something new comes along it has to fight over time to gain ground. Hence we vote the same exact person into the mayoral office over and over, not because he deserves to win but simply because we are familiar with the name. In order for this city to return to the greatness it once held in the past, we're going to need an influx of inventive and ingenuitive young minds to take the wheel. It is frankly no different than the local music scene we've all been fighting over time to revive. Its going to take something "new" to get it done. Everything has a reset button; sometimes you start playing the game and things don't pan out the way you intended. Every occupation in the world has to take the time to press that button every now and again. In my adult life the mayoral office of St. Louis city has yet to do so.
Politics have devolved into pretty much the same ole ridiculous minutia of the guys and gals in the suits getting paid to tell the poor folks how to fix their lives. Usually most of them are assholes, and have developed uncontrollable egos, and have watered-down ideas about the actual concerns of the people. They have no actual idea of how to create meaningful dialogues between the community and themselves. We've seen it all and we've heard it all. I believe currently the Lewis Reed campaign has the capability of representing the shifting paradigm in STL politics we've all hoped to see one day. I won't go so far as to say I believe they are meeting this potential at the current moment, but I do believe they have the tools needed to do so.
We all have people to answer to, and St.Louis politicians all too often have damaged the credibility of the co-signer. I'm a huge fan of Lewis Reed and I was ecstatic about his bid for mayor of Saint Louis, but if he gets elected and turns his back on the community, then I get to look like a douchebag to that community for stamping my seal of approval and asking them to ride with him. It probably doesn't really mean anything to Mr. Reed because, lets face it, who the hell is Tef Poe to Lewis Reed? I'm just another foolish black male running these streets, attempting to be a rapper. Yeah, I write a weekly column for the RFT blog, but this column isn't relevant in his world. I've been on TV and in a few magazines, but that too is irrelevant to anything pertaining to the eventual outcome of the mayoral campaign. But I do have 33,000+ Twitter followers, and 7,000+ Instagram followers and 5,000+ Facebook friends. These numbers to me represent a network of people that are tuned into Tef Poe. I wouldn't ask you to do anything I wouldn't feel comfortable doing myself. I earned your respect, and if I don't have your respect then I at least earned your attention, whether positive or negative.
The bottom line is on March 5th, we'll either re-elect the same person that's held this office for far too long or we'll set ourselves up to bring in a new fresh face with the capabilities to overshadow the old guy. People like Rex Sinquefield probably want you to re-elect the old guy so they can continue to buy elections and forge propositions with their own motives. People like Tef Poe want you to elect the new guy so we can at least maybe have a fighting chance to acknowledge our mistakes and maybe build a network of accountability for local politicians. I envision a St. Louis where at some point the power structure will have to listen to us. We can either start today and allow progress to begin or we can lay down and die. I know many of us believe it doesn't matter who the guy in the suit sitting in the big fat office is. I know you'll still have the same problems if Lewis Reed wins. The point is we at least have to give ourselves a fighting chance, and right now Reed is the posterboy for that chance in Saint Louis politics. It's time to push to the reset button and get some fresh energy injected into our cities veins.
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