St. Louis' hip hop scene is explored in the latest Budweiser documentary.
The ever overlooked St. Louis, Missouri is our next stop for the Budweiser Made in America documentary series, and an appropriate point ahead of Jay Z's music festival.
Almost every major city in the United States has some sort of musical identity which is exactly that sort of thing that inspired Jay Z to create Budweiser Made in America festival. It's all about looking at different genres from all over the country and uniting them in two major cities: Philadelphia and Los Angeles. However, there are plenty of musically rich cities out there that just barely get noticed - even in spite of some of the major stars that have come out of them.
St. Louis is one such town and every artist born there is all for praising it loudly. 'Repping where we were from was a no-brainer for us', says hip hop sensation Nelly. 'Because everybody else was putting on their cities and their areas and their regions. That's what we wanted to do because we felt like the music that we had was just as good or better.' Indeed, he had enough love in his heart for his hometown with starting up his first rap collective St. Lunatics and even wrote a song called 'St. Louie' for his first album 'Country Grammar' in 2000.
Watch the Budweiser Made in America documentary for St. Louis:
Rap, hip hop and R&B has always been the staple genre of St. Louis, with much of the musicians being 'huge West Coast followers' according to Nelly. It was also the place where Sugar Hill Gang's 'Rappers Delight' was first ever aired over the radio - which says a lot about the general musical taste! Akon is another hip hop/ R&B artist who has come from the town - even if he spent most of his youth in Senegal - and there's the likes of Nelly's nephew's group JGE Retro and 'Pop, Lock & Drop It' hitmaker Huey.
Nelly is St. Louis' hip hop hero
'We don't have the luxury of having Def Jam downtown, there's no Interscope Records downtown', explains Tef Poe, another respected rap musician from the town who has even been honoured with a commemorative day of his own by the Mayor of Pine Lawn in St. Louis County. 'So in order for a St. Louis artist to be heard on a national level, you really have to figure it out.' It's so much easier to do this when you've got fellow musicians backing you; as much as Nelly admits he rarely mixed with other groups while in St. Lunatics, the general ethic nowadays seems to be all about supporting each other. 'As far as the St. Louis music scene is concerned, I'm the type of person that's like... if I get to know you too, and if you're a good person as well, I'm gonna listen to your music even more and respect it even more', local musician Nick Menn insists.
Before hip hop, however, there was of course gospel and St. Louis definitely saw some of the most respected of these artists including Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith of The Ford Sisters, The O'Neal Twins and The Lesters. Then, perhaps most surprisingly, there was rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry, who redefined genres and brought some of the greatest songs ever into the world with a hypnotising passion including 'Johnny B. Goode', 'Maybellene' and 'Roll Over Beethoven'. There's also the likes of indie folk musicians Water Liars and Angel Olsen making there own little niche in the city fast-fowarding 60 years.
Chuck Berry remains to be the most famous face of music for St. Louis
Budweiser Made in America festival takes place on August 30th - 31st 2014 and is just as hip hop heavy as St. Louis itself. Kanye West tops the bill in both cities, alongside Imagine Dragons and Kings of Leon, while the supporting line-up includes Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, YG, Schoolboy Q, Cypress Hill, Chance The Rapper, J. Cole and Pharrell Williams.