Why Saint Louis Rapper Tef Poe Matters: By Talib Kweli

We are living in times that allow us to separate the fake from the real.

Talib Kweli
By: Talib Kweli, Founder Javotti Media

The truth has come out, and the devils and the coons continue to expose themselves, while the real blooms and blossoms, like “roses growing out of concrete,” to borrow from Pac.

When I become confused about my role in the struggle, I look to like-minded artists for inspiration and guidance. When I went to Occupy Wall Street, it was because I saw Immortal Technique go. When I went to Tallahassee to meet the Dream Defenders, it was on the advice of Harry Belafonte. It was a phone conversation with J. Cole that made me decide to go to Ferguson. When I got to Ferguson, one of the very first people I met in those streets was a rapper named Tef Poe.

Tef Poe
Tef Poe

I had never heard of Tef Poe before that day. But here was this local artist, in the streets with the people, for real. I felt I needed to get to know him. When I looked him up online later that night, what I saw was a local artist done good, a consummate MC, who had made a name for himself independently. A hustler who had garnered the respect of his peers, all while staying true to his St. Louis Missouri roots.
But the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson on August 9th last year transformed Tef into something else; a community activist, voice or the struggle, warrior for the people.
You could hear strains of this mentality in Tef’s earlier work, but the Ferguson uprising burned down the old Tef Poe and the world traveling, politically active, revolutionary but gangsta Tef Poe rose out of those ashes like a Phoenix. Tef was already clearly driven by purpose, but his purpose was now more clearly defined.
When Tef Poe and his good friend Tory Russell visited New York in November 2014, they gave me the idea to raise money for activists on the ground in Ferguson. I was directly inspired by them to do this work.
In the midst of the confusion that will inevitably attach itself to brand new movements, Tef Poe has remained an unfaltering, steady voice for the Ferguson/St Louis community. He’s respected by the high-minded intellectuals and the people living in poverty day by day alike.
However, this activist spirit has not affected Tef Poe’s musical abilities. In fact, it may have made him even iller. I put Tef on a song that will appear on the INDIE 500 album I am working on with 9th Wonder, and he murked his verse.


All the frustration, anger, passion and love of the last year has gone into Tef Poe’s latest album, War Machine III. Available on iTunes right here.
War Machine III explores the mind of this dynamic MC, right as he is in the middle of fighting for us. Here is “Prince,” the first video from this new album.


I am currently on a tour through the Midwest. You can see the remaining MidSummer Nights Dream Tour dates at talibkweli.com.
On Sunday July 12th, we stopped in St. Louis and broke bread with the homies Tory Russell, Reverend Sekou and Tef Poe.
That night, we found out that many protesters had been arrested in front of the St. Louis police station for protesting the death of Brandon Claxton, a 16-year-old teenager accused of pointing a gun at police. Claxton was shot four times by St. Louis police and is currently paralyzed.
The next day, after I left, Reverend Sekou and Tef Poe got arrested at the same protest. These are the folks who continue the fight in Ferguson LONG after the cameras left. As Tef said on Twitter, a lot of people push pens during the day, but it seems like the same 50 people are the ones on the front lines, getting arrested.
Even though Tef Poe has CLEARLY gone above and beyond and done more than his part, he is still on the front lines, getting arrested for the people, on the same day his new album comes out.
He has made it clear that his priority is the people. So I write this to ask the people to please support this brother’s musical endeavors by supporting his album. He’s not going to promote it well because he’s too busy being a real dude, standing up for people who sometimes don’t stand up for themselves.
So I am going to say it. Tef Poe’s War Machine III deserves our support.
If you can, try to get down to Ferguson during the week of August 2nd to August 10th. Ferguson Summer will be popping off. Email freedomsummerferguson@gmail.com for more info or text @fsferguson to 23559 for updates.
On August 8/9th, the weekend anniversary of the death of Mike Brown, I will be throwing a pair of free tribute concerts in the area. The first, August 8th, will be at Ready Room St. Louis, 4195 Manchester Ave, and will feature Tom Morello and the Freedom Fighter Orchestra, The Coup, Outernational and Jessica Care Moore.
The second, August 9th will be at Fubar St. Louis, 3108 Locust St, and will feature myself, Immortal Technique, Jasiri X, M1 from Dead Prez, Tef Poe and more.
See you in the struggle! Solidarity people! One love!
Talib Kweli, Founder, Javotti Media