St. Louis, Missouri, is famous for its roots in blues and jazz music. However, you may be surprised to find that quite a few popular rappers got their start in the Lou as well. So read on as we take a closer look at the best St. Louis rappers and their respective careers.
Cornell Haynes Jr., better known by his stage name ‘Nelly’, was born in Austin, Texas. His parents got a divorce when he was young, and he and his mother got a fresh start in St. Louis.
Growing up, Nelly enjoyed baseball and rap. He formed the rap group St. Lunatics with a few of his high school friends. They saw some local success in the early 90s, though they thought Nelly would perform best as a solo artist.
Their theory was correct, and his 2000 solo debut, Country Grammar, was a huge hit. Nelly had several singles hit the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, with four peaking at number one.
Howard Baily, Jr, or “Chingy,” was born on March 9, 1980, in St. Louis, Missouri. Chingy began writing rhymes at ten years old before rapping as “H Thugs” as a teen.
Later, he took the name “Chingy” and signed with Fo-Reel Entertainment, a management agency founded by Nelly, the local rap hero.
In 2003, he released his first single, “Right Thurr,” which flew to the top of the US Hot Rap Songs chart and landed at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Chingy went on to release two-platinum-selling albums and four top-10 hits.
Metro Boomin was born Leland Tyler Wayne on September 16, 1993, in Saint Louis, Missouri. He's known for his distinctive dark production style and influence on modern hip-hop and trap music.
He started producing beats and rapping in his early teens and connected with other artists on social media throughout high school.
The St. Louis native relocated to Atlanta and worked with several top artists like Future and Gucci Mayne. He has dozens of songs on the US Billboard Hot 100, two of which hit the top 10.
Lawrence Franks Jr., known by his moniker Huey or Baby Huey, was a St. Louis native rapper. He started rapping with a buddy in his neighborhood on Arlington avenue when he was a teenager.
Huey got inspiration from fellow St. Louis rap icons like Nelly and Chingy. He enjoyed writing lyrics, and when his older brother introduced him to Angela Richardson, he took it more seriously.
He released mixed tapes that quickly took off around college campuses. Huey is best known for his song “Pop, Lock, & Drop It,” which reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100.
Huey passed away in 2000 after a double shooting in Kinloch, Missouri.
Just about everyone in the St. Louis area is aware of St. Lunatics. Although many recognize the group because of Nelly's success, Murphy Lee had some of his own.
Murphy Lee had a similar country-rap style to Nelly, though his laid-back, nasally, and quick raps made him stand out on his own.
The St. Lunatics released their official debut in 2001. Murphy Lee gained more traction when he was a featured artist in hits like “Roc the Mic” and “Shake Ya Tailfeather.”
Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam, better known as Akon, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1973. Soon after his birth, his family moved back to Dakar, Senegal, before returning to the US.
He wound up in prison after participating in an auto-theft ring. During his jail time, he worked on his music. Akon initially recorded tracks in his home studio, and agencies took notice of his unique smooth R&B sound.
Akon saw massive success in the early 2000s with hits like “I Wanna Love You” featuring Snoop Dogg and “Smack That” featuring Eminem.
Born Jerrell C. Jones, J-Kwon is an American rapper born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1986. He had a rough childhood, getting kicked out of his home when he was 12 for allegedly dealing drugs.
He slept in cars and friends' houses during his young life and took to dealing crack cocaine. He suffered a broken jaw after winning a rap battle.
J-Kwon is best known for his 2004 hit single, “Tipsy,” which landed at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, one on Hot Rap Songs, and one on the UK Hip Hop/R&B charts.
Big Boss Vette
Diamond Alexxis Smith, better known as Big Boss Vette, is St. Louis native rapper who is recognized for her blunt and bold rap style.
Big Boss Vette created her own remix of “Try Me” by Dej Loaf's in 2015, which went viral, garnering her more attention. By 2022, she released “Bad Bitch” which did well on YouTube, leading her to sign with Republic Records.
Her track “Snatched” went viral on the popular social media app TikTok and XXL titled the song a “summer staple.”
Born Lavell Webb, City Spud was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1975. He was close with the rap star Nelly and became a member of his group, the St. Lunatics. Many believed City Spud and Nelly were brothers.
The group had some success with their '97 song, “Gimme What U Got.” As Nelly rose to fame, he featured members of the St. Lunatics in his singles.
Unfortunately, City Spud was in jail during the rise of Nelly's fame. However, he got a few loyalty checks during his sentence. However, he was a featured artist in Nelly's hit song, “Ride Wit' Me.”
Smino was born Christopher Smith Jr and had a family of musicians who exposed him to gospel music, blues, and jazz. He'd blend his early musical influences with other effects like Kanye West.
He grew up drumming and playing in his church band before entering the rap scene. Smino got into hip-hop and joined the duo YDOC. Smino came out with his solo mixtape, SMEEZY DOT COM, in 2012.
Smino released several solos and featured tracks throughout the late 2010s and early 2020s. His single, “Luv 4 Rent,” landed at number 50 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Born Richard Williams, Prince EA is a Saint Louis native that lived in the area throughout young adulthood and attended the University of Missouri.
You may have seen Prince EA on social media and likely know him for his inspirational content. Not only is he a rapper, but he's a civil rights activist with over a billion views across his platforms.
His music career began in 2008 when he released the mixtape “The Adolescence.” Upon submitting a video of him rapping, Vibe Magazine awarded him $5,000 in music recording equipment and a published article.
By 2011, the Riverfront Times coined him “Best hip-hop artist in St. Louis.”
Shorty da Prince
Shorty da Prince, born Jordan Johnson, is an American TV personality, radio DJ, and rapper. This St. Louis native relocated to Detroit, Michigan, to work as a radio host for Hot 107.5.
His radio career began when he was young. At just 12 years old, he won a radio host search run by 100.3 The Beat in St. Louis. He grew in popularity and became a well-known DJ throughout his teenage years.
While he worked in radio, his love for music grew. By 15, he signed with Track Boyz Entertainment under the moniker Shorty da Kid. He's mainly known for his 2010 song “Wah Wah Wow.”
Tiffany Parham, professionally known as Tiffany Foxx, is an American rapper, TV personality, and model born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Her fans know her for her boisterous songs about partying, sex, and female empowerment.
Foxx gets her inspiration from Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, and Eminem, among other artists. She appeared on Snoop Dogg's “Welcome to tha Chuuch” Da Album” and starred in Eminem's “Shake That” music video.
In 2005, Tiffany Foxx formed a rap trio with Brook Holladay and Scar Ladon. They called their group “June 5” to commemorate the day they met. She also released several singles, like “War Zone,” in the late 2010s.
Born Marcus Tyrone Gray, better known as Flame, is an American Christian hip-hop rapper under the Clear Sight Music agency. He's received several Grammy, Stellar, and Dove nominations.
This St. Louis native made his debut in 2004 by releasing his first studio album, which received over 98,000 sales. He released several more albums, many of which landed on the Billboard charts.
In 2010 he introduced his label, Clear Sight Music, and released his fifth studio album, “Captured,” which topped the Billboard Gospel chart.
Jovan Campbell, or Jibbs, is an American rapper born in St. Louis, Missouri. He was introduced to the rap scene by his brother, DJ Beatz, who was somewhat known in the area due to his collaborations with other St. Louis natives, Nelly and Chingy.
Wanting to impress his older brother, Jibbs tirelessly wrote raps. His tenacity worked, and his brother invited Jibbs to the studio to record some tracks. He had some local success during this time.
Jibbs is most well-known for his debut single, “Chain Hang Low,” in 2006. This song was a huge hit and was the most popular rap download that year.
Stevie Stone, born Stephen Lewis Williams, is an American rapper from Colombia, Missouri, about an hour and a half outside St. Louis. His mother was a choir director and singer who introduced him to the soul, gospel, and blues at a young age.
Growing up, he had plenty of sports and music-related hobbies. He was a talented basketball player who got an offer to play for a college in Iowa. Despite this, he chose to pursue music once he performed a show.
After joining and leaving Ruthless Records, he joined Tech N9ne's Strang Music, which launched him into success. His second album landed within the top hundred on the Billboard 200 and had numerous famous features, including Tech N9ne, Yelawolf, Krizz Kaliko, and others.
Born Travis Tremayne Tyler, Thi'sl is an American Christian hip-hop songwriter and producer born in Greenwood, Mississippi. When he was a baby, he and his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri.
Thi'sl began wrapping under the stage name Uncle Y in 2014. At this time, he rapped about his gang activity and street life. His home was a hostile environment, keeping him from having a traditional childhood.
He later transformed his life and started promoting positivity through his raps. His 2014 album, Fallen King, featured guest appearances from Json, Laquan Green, and Flame. It debuted at number 115 on the US Billboard Hot 200.
Jackie Hill Perry
Jackie Hill Perry is an American writer, poet, and hip-hop artist from St. Louis, Missouri. Sadly, she was sexually assaulted as a child, which contributed to her confusion about her gender identity.
Once she was 17, she discovered she was a lesbian. As she grew up, she was sexually promiscuous and struggled with pornography and drug addictions. She converted to Christianity in 2008 and referred to herself as a former lesbian, sparking controversy with gay rights activists.
Jackie Hill Perry has been a guest musician on numerous Christian hip-hop songs, like Swoopes's “Because You Asked” and Beautiful Eulogy's “Instruments of Mercy.”
Ebony Eyez, born Ebony Williams, is the first female rapper out of St. Louis. She began rapping at only nine years old. Later in life, she enrolled in college before dropping out to form a rap duo with another female artist.
Her career in a rap duo didn’t last long, though her efforts would shortly pay off. In the early 2000s, she’d impressed the TrackBoyz Production team.
In 2004, she released her commercial recording debut, “Show Your Ass,” by J-Kwon, who was under the same management. Her album, “7 Day Cycle,” was a modest success, reaching 137 on the Billboard albums chart.
Top St Louis Rappers, Final Thoughts
Whether you’re a Missouri native and want a playlist of the best Missouri rappers or are curious about music artists in the Lou, this list is sure to inspire.
Many St. Louis rappers share their STL love, though you may be surprised that some of those on the list are from the area. However, these artists are worth checking out, no matter where you're from.