On Friday July 18 at the new Hi-Tone in Memphis, a group of Memphis rap artists came together to celebrate the city and its rap legacy in a concert entitled “Memphis As F@#k”, based on the popular local T-shirts of the same name. Like the “Grit and Grind” slogan of the Memphis Grizzlies organization, this saying is a defiant expression of pride in a rough, predominantly-Black, working-class city. DJ Witnesse got things off to a good start with plenty of classic soul and rap on the ones and twos, and then a local artist named Trackman started things off, followed by the female artist Tori Whodat, who has been getting some attention here this year. Knowledge Nick, who came on after her, is arguably Memphis’ best exponent of classic hip-hop, as opposed to street rap, and performed a number of anthemic songs over smooth, mellowed-out backing. But the headliner of the evening was Memphis legend Al Kapone, who was inspired enough by the Memphis As F@#k shirts to compose a song of the same name, and who was joined on stage by his homeboy Tune C, and then by a cast of Memphis legends, including Mr. Sche, DJ Zirk, Frayser Boy and Skinny Pimp. Like a pep rally for those of us who love Memphis, the night ended in nothing but good vibes and good fun.
The 15th annual On Location Memphis Film and Music Festival got underway in earnest on Friday April 25 with the awards luncheon at Lost Pizza Company on Poplar Avenue. Folk acoustic duo Sunburnt Moon providing the really cool music for the occasion. Registration then opened at Studio on the Square in Overton Square around 1 PM, with films occurring all afternoon. At 7 PM, music showcases got underway at Le Chardonnay, The Blue Monkey, Otherlands, Java Cabana and Newbys, and these ran until midnight. Highlights of the evening included performances by Mike Mosby and the Hard Hitters Band featuring vocalist Cameron Bethany at Le Chardonnay, Cowboy Bob Sawyer and Low Society at Otherlands, and an all-star hip-hop line-up at Newby’s that included Marco Pave, 5th Child, Truth Universal, Marcel P. Black, Lyriqs Da Lyraciss, Lukah Luciano, A. C. Dutch and the Iron Mouth Battle League and Knowledge Nick, who was also the MC for the evening.
For his final songs, Knowledge Nick (@kdotnick) was joined on stage by the Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, a Memphis-based reggae/dub outfit that has been making noise around town all year. Despite the heat and crowded conditions, the release party was a lot of fun for everyone.
After the intermission, Knowledge Nick was joined by other luminaries from Memphis’ growing hip-hop scene, including Jason Da Hater and Royal T, Memphis TN, 12/08/12
Memphis hip-hop artist Knowledge Nick performs at the release party for his album “Memphis: The Soul of Hip Hop.” The album can be purchased at http://knowledgenick.bandcamp.com/.
Tom Skeemask performing live at the Knowledge Nick album release party at Newby’s in Memphis, 12/08/12
One of the more interesting things about the new Memphis hip-hop scene is that it sees itself as an outgrowth of the classic Memphis era, so Knowledge Nick, for example, has been closely associated with traditional Memphis rap artists like Tom Skeemask and DJ Zirk, despite the obvious difference in Nick’s style. Tom Skeemask was the second act of the night at Nick’s release party at Newby’s, and Tom is still a much-beloved figure of the Memphis rap scene, with a new album scheduled to appear in February.
The opening act for Knowledge Nick was a local hip-hop artist named C’ Beyond that I wasn’t familiar with. He is lyrically gifted, and quite the showman, as he changed into a number of different costumes during the course of his performance