|Emcee gains a following, and a track in an iPad game|
As one of Baton Rouge's top emcees, 22-year-old Luke St. John is an unorthodox image of today's hip hop scene. His lyrical ingenuity matches that of early hip hop pioneers, and his fashion style is more reminiscent of a poet than a rapper.
He's always jotting down notes for new songs, carrying a weathered notebook and pen in the pocket of his high-water Dockers.
The young phenom, whose stage name is his first and middle name (McKnight is his last name), has performed at Roux House, Gallery Bohemia and other venues locally, as well as in Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans. He got interested in music at an early age in church, where he found himself listening to the melodic rhythm of the pastor's voice, noticing the musicality and lyricism in his delivery. And he's still searching out inspiration.
“I leave my house as many times as possible just so I can stay in tune with what's going on in my city,” he says. “I usually create words or the beginning of verses because of the melodies that come in my head while I'm doing certain regular tasks. So it's observation, intuition and taking my time every day to listen—it's like more uploading than downloading.
St. John is a member of a collective of young hip hop artists called “The Scribe Tribe,” headed by Mike Collins, owner of the Tall Tale apparel line. His contribution to the crew is “Vivid Vibes”—what has become his catchphrase, based on a revelatory trip to Jamaica.
“I experienced firsthand that you can live the life that you want to live, openly and genuinely, and share it with others. I didn't think it would become a slogan or anything; I just said it,” St. John says.
It's helped him develop a sound he describes as hip hop/world/meditative. He sees his typical audience as a group of free thinkers, but he believes there is still a skewed view of hip hop in Baton Rouge.
“There are subgenres of Baton Rouge hip hop, and all of them are good. Aside from that, you'll have people who like the idea, the image of the rappers, and they'll call themselves one and don't take the time to pursue that craft, and it creates a negative stigma because they don't take it seriously,” St. John says.
Among those doing it right, he cites D-Lain, who St. John worked with on a recent track, Mars the Superior, James Jackson, A.R. and Marcel P. Black as talented emcees leading the local hip hop scene.
He recently collaborated with AF the Naysayer on “The A.M.,” a track recently included on an iPhone and iPad game app, Tap Tap Revenge. The game challenges players to tap along to songs from the likes of Katy Perry and Linkin Park.
St. John's first EP, Vivid Vibes: Intellectual Property, was released in September with a series of performances. He is also set to perform at the BR HOPS Festival in January.
For more information, go to reverbnation.com/LukeStJohn.
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