As the 1990s drew to a close, St. Louis, Missouri was the center of a strong, albeit short-lived, hip-hop renaissance. Suburban-raised Cornell “Nelly” Haynes and his group The St. Lunatics, introduced their southern take on flashy jewelry and big cars to the rap community. Of course, since then they have moved on to millionaire posturing just like the rest, abandoning their Midwest roots, but their success opened the St. Louis area up for new stars to step to the foreground.
One such group is Scripts N Screwz (SnS). Hailing from just over the Mississippi river, in East St. Louis, IL, SnS have been making a strong name for themselves in the local hip-hop scene. The duo is made up of Koby, aka Scripts, and Damon Davis, aka Loose Screwz. Their most recent full-length album, The New Noise, was released in April of ’08 (they released a mix-tape called Sound Cinema in 2009), and the songs are a mish-mash of genres that completely live up to the album’s title.
The duo has said in many interviews that their influences range from hip-hopers Outkast and Common to classic psychedelics Pink Floyd to Parliament to the modern art rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Man Man (which Screwz describes as “some circus music”). This amalgamation of influences shows as you listen to their music. From the laid-back joking parody of modern rap stars (Nelly perhaps?) in “Big City Lights”, to the gritty, political lyrics of “War Outside”, SnS combines punk drums, metal guitars, ’80s Daft Punk synths and keyboards, and Parliament bass to create their own “new noise.”
In an interview last year with STLSound Magazine, SnS said their goal is to be the ones who start a new sound that becomes mainstream, “kind of like how Nirvana is to grunge or Parliament is to funk.” They want to step out of the shadow Nelly has left over St. Louis hip-hop. A video posted on the SnS blog, another STL artist and collaborator with SnS, Kold, echoes their sentiment:
You don’t know St. Louis for real, what we got here. It’s a city full of people down on themselves, and non-believers, but people like us we’re gonna make them believe in something new…mad respect to them [Nelly and Murphy Lee] but it’s time for a new sound.
With their smart and innovative lyrics, eclectic music, and die-hard work ethic, Scripts N Screwz will make people believe. A change is coming and Scripts N Screwz may very well be leading the wave of new Midwest and mainstream hip-hop.