Memphis ‘Blowin Up’ In The Rap Game?

Everybody is talking about why Memphis hasn’t ‘blown’ up in the rap game til now. I mean, Memphis, TN has always been a city that has birthed music and artists that were before it’s time. And I put the TN on Memphis because, many don’t know, there’s a Memphis in Texas, a Memphis in Alabama, a Memphis in Michigan, Indiana, and even a Memphis in New York and across seas in Egypt, which is the original Memphis city. But for now I’m reffering to the Memphis in TN. What alot of people don’t know also is that Memphis has been a contribution to a great deal of legendary music and artists dating back way even before songs like “Memphis Blues” published by W.C. Handy in 1912. And I use the word contribution because although the artists or music that the world heard might not have been a Memphis artist or deemed Memphis music, yet still, Memphis contributed a great influence upon many genres including Rock & Roll, Blues, Rhythm & Soul, Jazz, and of course rap. But back to the subject at hand. I mean we (Memphis) have been doing this a long time dating all the way back to the early 80’s. Way before Lil Jon or Crunk music, we were ‘throwing bows’ and ‘gettin’ buck’. Lil Jon has even stated in interviews his influence for Crunk came from Memphis. Even before Texas’ Mike Jones and Paul Wall, Memphis was ‘choppin & screwin’ music back in the early 80’s when DJs would mix together and slow down vinyl albums or even blend in their own basslines over a popular song or phrase such as the famous words “Say hello to my little friend” off the movie Scarface. This concept and Memphis rap were pioneered by early Memphis DJs such as Ray the Jay, Sonny D, Spanish Fly, DJ BK, DJ Paul, and TONS of others not so recognized.

Yet still, even though Memphis was, locally, doing it real BIG in the rap game, Memphis (our artists and original music) was never the city to quote ‘Blow up’ nationwide. Alot of people think they already know the answer to why Memphis hasn’t ‘blown up’. I have heard everything from “Memphis ain’t gone never blow up cause everybody hatin’ on each other” to “Memphis music all sounds the same and that’s why we not going anywhere” to “Memphis talks too country and it just won’t go over nationwide or worldwide”. Well for you people who said these things before and are still saying these things now, I’m here to let you know now, you’re ALL wrong. None of those reasons are why Memphis hasn’t ‘blown up’ yet. It’s not because of hatin’ Memphis hasn’t ‘blown up’, hell haters are everywhere worldwide and they can’t stop the world from liking a certain kind of music or a certain kind of artist, because if the fans like your music and buy your music then what does a hater matter in that, matters none. And, of course, Memphis music sounds the same, because we have our own unique flava just like other cities have their own unique flava. There’s nothing wrong with being unique, hell rap is unique too and that’s why it’s called rap because it was another genre of music that didn’t sound like everything else but if it sounds rap then it’s still called rap. Besides that, if you really have an ear for music, you know too that all Memphis rap does not sound the same and has never sounded the same even since the beginning. Ask youself, does Eightball & MJG sound like Three Six Mafia and have they ever sounded like Three Six Mafia? Does Three Six Mafia really sound like anyone else or does any other Memphis rapper sound like Three Six Mafia. The same goes for Playa Fly, Gangsta Blac, Gangsta Boo, Kingpin Skinny Pimp, Tommy Wright III, Pretty Tony, Gangsta Pat, Indo G and Lil Blunt, Eightball & MJG, and the list goes on and on from the early 80’s til now these artists have never sounded like each other and that’s why we knew and know who they are as soon as we hear their old songs and new songs.

I will tell something else to Memphis artists. Those of you who say “I or we don’t sound nothing like Memphis,” you should really think about why you don’t want to sound Memphis. You feel as though you’re tired of it because, as I mentioned before, we have been hearing it for over 20 years locally and that’s why we could get into that mindframe of being “burnt out” on the sound. However the only reason you are “burnt out” is because it has been 20 years and felt as though the Memphis sound was to blame for it being 20 years before any Memphis artist “blew up”. Let me address this to you. For 20 years yes we locally have been hearing Memphis rap but the world is still new to what we have been hearing for the last 20 years therefore to them they would be hearing it for the first time. Now ask yourself, was Memphis rap bumping 10 years ago? Yes, most definitely! Well imagine if the world heard now what we heard 10 years ago. Simply put, don’t lose your style because the world never got a chance to hear it! Now, as far as Memphis being too country, how can you be too country to sell music, hell country singers been doing multi-platinum sales for decades. Nelly even made a whole album dedicated to it, did his album fail?

All those reasons why Memphis hasn’t blown up are good attempts at the problem but now I will tell you the real reason why Memphis or any city for that matter hasn’t ‘blown up’ til now? Lack of media and talented Music industry people. First, how do we, the people, find out about any new artist or music? We hear it on the radio, we see it on the TV and/or we read it in the magazines and now on the internet. Memphis has never had any nationwide or worldwide media including TV, radio or magazines. Not until the internet and, did Memphis rap music and artists ever have worldwide press. You know of Snoop and Dre and 50 Cent and Ashanti and so forth because of the media. Now why didn’t we have nationwide media 10 to 20 years ago, I don’t know and I can only think that Memphis didn’t have the right people in the Industry promoting rap and the city til now.

Now, to all independent artists, pay close attention to this. If you are planning on ‘blowin up’ yourself or puttin your city ‘on the grid’ then keep in mind, you gotta have nationwide media and press, and many of you may not have heard and many of you may have heard but when you get into the game you’re gonna need serious PR. Don’t try to do everything yourself! Including being a label. Don’t create a label unless you plan on bringing on talented people to operate the major positions of the company such as PR, Marketing, Sales and Distribution. It’s not hard, just get a person that’s willing, loyal and very talented to handle their one job. One PR person, one Marketing person, etc. Keep in mind, starting a label is not thinking of a cool name and calling yourself it and if that’s ‘how you rollin’, yes, you’re not gonna ‘blow up’. It takes work, dedication and a talented staff of loyal people. I stress the word loyal because bringing a person into your label or company that’s not loyal can make your business suffer alot of lost time, money, work and ideas. An un-loyal person will leave with your company ideas, leaving you with the work, and cause you to get behind because now you have to fill that postion again. Time and time again I hear Industry people talk about “Man, they are doing what we doing and they worked for me.” Last but definitely not least, any successful label needs talented songwriters and producers or you have nothing to market.

Well, now that we have pinpointed a major problem of why Memphis hasn’t ‘blown up’, what’s next is to find a solution. Establishing was a major new beginning but it can’t do it all. You have to realize in order for any city to grow as a whole, the serious people in that city’s Industry need to meet with the serious people in that Industry and make serious things happen. No not to steal ideas, or ride each other’s coat tails yet instead to introduce ourselves and our services so that we all come to know who to go to when we need this done or that done. With collaboration and togetherness, you’ll be amazed at what can happen. People will come to find out who’s the best at doing what they do and that’s how growth develops through building business relationships. That’s also how we’ll stay in tune and also come to find out who not to work with as well because we as Industry people that come together will become more of a commnunity working together and not against. will be launching monthly Industry parties produced by myself, M Town Luv. As founder of, the producer of Urban Music Showcase and, I have a vision of bigger and better things for Memphis and our Music Industry and I think it is time to bring together serious Industry people who have similar visions and common goals. The parties will begin as of August 2005. They will be host to many important and influential Industry people in Memphis and out-of-town guests. There will be local artists performances and guests at each event, which will be held monthly, and the whole entire thing will be filmed and aired for

Great minds think alike. Keep your heads up people!

M Town Luv


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