This might surprise you, but the city of St. Louis has quite a few popular rappers. When you think of St Louis rappers, the name Nelly comes to mind of course. But the city has quite a few more.
Many of the rappers in the city have had national success. Yet, at the same time, we have to praise those who have had local hits and success.
St. Louis has always been a fast-paced city. And it has always produced rappers that made club music and have had hit records. Going to nightclubs like Club Casino and Club Mono has always been a treat in St. Louis.
With that in mind, let’s talk about St Louis rappers. We will mention some of the new-era artists, but also the older-generation artists.
The two big names that come to mind are Nelly and Chingy. But there are others who have made it big nationally in the past decade. Let’s take a look.
It is only fitting that we start with the biggest name, right? Born as Cornell Iral Haynes Jr in 1974, Nelly is an American rapper, singer, and entrepreneur.
Nelly started his music career with the Midwest hip-hop group St. Lunatics in 1993. By 1999, he signed with Universal Records. With Universal, Nelly flourished and his solo career went off.
His debut album, Country Grammar, featured the hit single Ride Wit Me. The album itself peaked at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 and became his best-selling album to date.
The following album, Nellyville, also produced Number 1 hits in Hot in Herre and Dilemma featuring Kelly Rowland.
Nelly generated many charting hits in the 2000s. He has won multiple awards, including a Grammy Award three times.
He also tried himself in the acting world. He starred in the remake film The Longest Yard alongside Adam Sandler and Christ Rock in 2005, at the height of his popularity.
His style has been described as using unforgettable hooks based on schoolyard songs.
We have to mention the Senegalese American singer as well. Born as Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam, he is known as Akon.
The American rapper rose to prominence in 2004 with the release of his Locked Up single, featuring Styles P. It was the first single from the debut album Trouble. But the second single, Lonely, is a hit song we listen to to this day.
With this second album, Konvicted, he earned three Grammy Award nominations, including best rap collaboration for Smack That, featuring Eminem. Another hit single from that album was I Wanna Love You, featuring Snoop Dogg.
He is famous as one of the best-featured artists. He often provides vocals and is credited with more than 300 guest appearances.
Born as Christopher Smith Jr in October 1991, Smino is an American rapper from St. Louis, Missouri. He is the founder of the musical collective Zero Fatigue, alongside Ravyn Lenae, Monte Booker, Jay2, and Bari.
Smino is also a member of the hip-hop supergroup Zoink Gang alongside Buddy, JID, and Guapdad 4000. Smino is signed to Downtown Records and Interscope Records.
He rose to prominence in 2012 when he released his mixtape Smeezy Dot Com and the collaborative mixtape Retail with Bari.
His music is futuristic funk and soulful rap. Critics describe it as a mix of smart rapping and crowd-pleasing R&B grooves. His biggest musical influences are Kanye West, Andre 3000, and Lil Wayne.
The American rapper is a member of the hip-hop group St. Lunatics and CEO of his own label, U C Me Entertainment.
Born in St. Louis as Torhi Harper, Murphy Lee formed the St. Lunatics with fellow rappers Nelly, City Spud, Kyjuan, and Ali.
The crew had a hard time getting a record deal. Most of the members secured a solo deal, including Nelly.
In 2003, Murphy released Murphy’s Law, peaking at Number 8 on the US chart. Then, in 2009, he released You See Me.
We said in the beginning that Chingy is among the most popular St Louis rappers, right? The American rapper and actor grew up in the city and began rapping in his late teens.
Born in March 1970, he toured as an opening act with Nelly in the summer of 2002 and then became a protégé of Ludacris. The former signed him to his newly formed Disturbing Tha Peace label.
Chingy is famous for his style, specializing in catchy and club-friendly beats with simplistic lyrics.
His debut album, Jackpot, came out in 2003 and sold two million copies.
Chingy was originally known as H Thugz during his time in the St. Louis group Without Warning. He founded Full Dekk Music Group, and serves as CEO of the label. The list of artists includes L Frost, Young Swift, Soulo, Chris Woodhouse, Small Talk, Don Trip, DJ Noize, and more.
Born as Jerrell C Jones in March 1986, J Kwon got famous in 2004 with his rap single Tipsy. It rose to Number 2 on the US charts.
The rapper was expelled from his home at the early age of 12. Allegedly, he was dealing illegal drugs. At the time, he slept at friends’ homes and in cars.
In 2004, his song Tipsy from the album Hood Hop peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard 200.
Born as Lawrence Franks Jr in September 1987, Huey was an American rapper from Kinloch, Missouri. But at a young age, he moved to Walnut Park, a neighborhood of St. Louis.
Growing up in the tough area of St. Louis, with drugs and violence around him inspired his rap lyrics. He was the youngest of four children.
He began creating hip-hop beats at the age of 15. His older brother helped him contact Angela Richardson, who was creating a rap group.
In June 2020, an unidentified young male and Huey were shot in front of his home in Kinloch, Missouri. The American rapper was taken to the hospital, but he died there shortly after arriving.
The hip-hop artist has performed at SXSW and has been nominated for a number of Riverfront Times Music Awards. While he lives in Brooklyn, New York at the moment, he was born on the north side of St. Louis.
He earned his nickname during his time at the Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School. He was born Corey Barnett, but people know him as Rockwell Knuckles.
In 2005, he released his 29-track mixtape called The New Standard. It led to opening gigs for artists like GZA, RJD2, and Brother Ali.
Born as Lavall Webb in August 1975, City Spud is an American rapper and record producer. He is another member of the hip-hop group St. Lunatics.
Featured on Nelly’s hit single Ride wit Me, he had a rough start to his music career. In 1999, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for armed robbery. Nelly and the group campaigned for his release and even titled their group album Free City to support him.
He served nine years and got out in 2008. He has released only one solo mixtape, Twelve-12 in 2010.
Jackie Hill Perry
The poet, writer, and hip-hop artist gained fame for her performances of spoken word pieces at the Passion 4 Christ Movement. She has written for different Christian ministry organizations. You can say she is a Christian rapper and part of the Christian hip-hop movement.
Over the years, she has had troubles with gender identity. Sexual abuse as a child led to confusion over her gender identity.
At the age of 17, she came out as a lesbian. Over the years, she has lived a life of sexual promiscuity and struggled with drug and pornography addiction. That all changed when she converted to Christianity in 2008.
Her two studio albums are The Art of Joy in 2014 and Crescendo in 2018.
Born as Marcus Tyrone Gray in September 1981, Flame is an American Lutheran Christian hip-hop rapper. During his career, he has released nine albums. And he has earned a nomination for a Dove Award and Stellar Award.
He wrote rap lyrics as devotionals to God. After converting his devotionals to songs, Cross Movement Records took an interest in supporting him and publishing his gospel work through rap music.
In 2010, he started his own record label, Clear Sight Records. In March 2020, he left the Reformed tradition and was received into the Lutheran Church. His EP Christ for You puts emphasis on the Lutheran belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Shorty da Prince
We continue our list of St. Louis rappers with Jordan Johnson, better known as Shorty da Prince. He is an American radio DJ artist, rapper, and television personality.
While he is from St. Louis, he has relocated to Detroit where he works as a radio host for radio station Hot 107.5.
He started his career in radio at only 12 years of age. But he soon realized he shouldn’t hide his talents behind a microphone. He pursued opportunities in television and other ventures.
His best-known song is the 2008 summer anthem, Wah Wawh Wow.
Let’s continue the list with Jovan Campbell, or known by his stage name, Jibbs. He has had one top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100. It was his debut single, Chain Hang Low.
The only other song that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 is King Kong, a song featuring Chamillionaire.
In 2006, he released his debut album, Jibbs featuring Jibbs.
Born Ali Jones in 1973, he is better known as Ali. He released his debut song Heavy Starch in 2002. Ali is another member of the hip-hop group St. Lunatics.
He is among the group’s founding members, alongside Kyujuan, City Spud, Nelly, and Murphy Lee. Ali has appeared on every Nelly album except on Suit in 2004 and M.O. in 2013.
His own mixtapes include The Champ Iz Here and So St. Louis.
We finish off the list of St Louis rappers with an inspirational story. This guy might look young, but age is just a number for Nuski2Squad.
After breaking into the rap game in late 2019, he has gained quite a few fans on YouTube thanks to his single You Gone See.
His story is just amazing. He went from being homeless to meeting celebrities. His real name is Rayne Stewart, and the central part of his look is the face mask.
In his own words, “the face mask started from me being in the streets. I started wearing them around four or five years ago. Not exactly to hide my face, but I feel as it keeps me safe. Yes, I have been keeping inside but not because of the virus. There is just no need to go anywhere except the studio”.