Hip-hop artist Cedric Redmon thought getting out and explaining his message might give him a chance of being elected alderman in the Sixth Ward.
The 32-year-old Fox Park neighborhood resident learned it wasn’t that easy when he came in third in the March 5 primary, behind incumbent Christine Ingrassia and Debra Carnahan, wife of former Congressman Russ Carnahan. The disappointments he had helped him move toward some bigger goals for his life.
Other challengers learned the same thing. All the incumbents won, from Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed to the 11 aldermen who ran for re-election.
But that didn’t help Redmon, who garnered only 19.5 percent of the vote.
“The part that bothered me most was the expectations. I really don’t think people gave me the opportunity to tell them what I know,” said Redmon, wearing his ever-present St. Louis Cardinals cap. “I sit back and think about what I would have done, day one.”
Then he had a conversation with his pastor, Stephen Vasser, of Compton Hill Baptist Church, 3141 Lasalle St. “He told me there was nothing wrong with being a carpenter.”
Redmon has been learning lessons like that since his life was jarred by his parents’ divorce when he was about 10.
“Dealing with my parents splitting up, I took to writing,” said Redmon, whose father was in the Army. “Writing was just a way for me to get out what I wanted to say without being interrupted.”
Redmon performed for such groups as church or school choirs starting around the age of 12. The writing led him to compose original songs. He kept going after he graduated from Hazelwood East high school.
Since then, he’s been honing his skills.
“When I got started with my music career, I was coming in a decade when St. Louis was really thriving in a hip hop realm. I decided to try to grow the identity of St. Louis,” Redmon said. “As I grow older, I fell in love with the history, and I fell in love with the architecture.”
About five years ago, Redmon was on the road a lot. Now he’s staying closer to home. The way he performs also changed.
“I had to grow up and get out of the secular style of rap. I converted it more to a conscious positive rap,” Redmon said. “This had more insight for youth to hold onto. More of a message.”
He took that message to a mix of parks, churches, night clubs and sports events, any place that would have him.
Today, the list of titles he holds includes father, musician, performer, on-air personality for Mix 99.5 and youth ambassador for the City of St. Louis.
As youth ambassador, “I have a unique opportunity of having a voice with policy makers and legislators,” he said.
He also helped to find high school students locally who should receive free tablets and internet access through Sprint’s One Million Project. The project’s goal is to provide free high-speed internet access and mobile devices to one million high school students who don’t have good home internet access.
He’s also the father of a 12-year-old. “He’s actually a lot smarter than I am. He wants to be an architect,” Redmon said.
All of this wasn’t enough to make him a politician. But in terms of affecting people, he may have more influence than those elected to office.