by Ashley Kane

How The Midwest Was Won: Part II

Remember, as we travel back to 2004, the record “Tipsy” had just peeked to grab the #2 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100. J-Kwon and Trackboyz had already logged hundreds of hours in the studio with the production of J-Kwon’s album Hood Hop. Throughout my interview with Tarboy he refers to these three sets of artist/producer relationships, which include J-Kwon & Trackboyz, Nelly & Basement Beats and Chingy & Trackstarz.


The three entities influenced the hip hop explosion in St. Louis in their own way. Williams says, “all three sets of people had a true love for music, it was never, in the beginning, about money”. Tarboy goes on to say that the three groups were never, in his eyes, out to sound like each other. But through similar upbringing, producers and artists had some of the same creative influences. Another factor that helped create that “St. Louis Sound” was music labels gave the Trackboyz, and others creative control to evolve their own product. At that time, St. Louis was controlled by major record labels who funded the projects. “Everybody was hungry and everybody was after success, but in my opinion all three, at a certain time in their music career, hit a problem”, says Williams. The key factor to all of this is timing he says,”it damn near hit all three of us at the same time”.


Naturally with success, things change. People grow, relationships change, financial stress and creative differences all affected success. “Without the money, it’s simple, everyone has a dream. Once the money comes into play, it becomes complicated”, said Williams. Tarboy stressed that there was a true misconception about music at that time. “Everyone thought that artists and producers single handedly controlled the music business in St. Louis but it was really the labels”, he said. Music executives seemed to be out of sync with the direction of technology. Labels attempted to stop illegal downloads instead of evolving with how music is now distributed. Williams says, “back then a region’s’ survival depended solely on profitability”.


How can we revive St. Louis’s musical pulse? There’s a wealth of musical talent, independent artists and producers, but no music business. We can all agree music and entertainment industries have changed and how we consume our music has definitely changed. So how do we get our spotlight back?

………………………To be continued

See what Tarboy is up to now! Follow him on Instagram @TarboyWilliams