The FADER's monthly column Rap Road Trip showcases five emerging artists who may be relatively unknown outside their hometowns but deserve your attention nonetheless.
The Memphis rap scene moves in ebbs and flows, but a few thematic threads will never wane: resentment towards its erasure from cultural canon, a penchant for abrasiveness, and constant annoyance with worrisome (pronounced “worsome”) members of the opposite sex. These factors converge to give the city’s rap a morbidly crude ethos; one that keeps the its scene competitive, but also fuels constant infighting. In the years following Three Six Mafia and Yo Gotti’s ascents, nearly each significant artist has been involved in some public dispute with another. The lucky few to make it out quickly relocate to Atlanta or Los Angeles. Artists and listeners alike cite the tension within the scene.
The sound that currently epitomizes the region is simultaneously homage to its sonic predecessors and modern adaptations to that early style’s descendants. The double-time flows that made their way from Hypnotize Camp Posse members, and became synonymous with Migos’s mimicry, are still present, as are the haunting productions that mutated while being passed around Atlanta and Chicago’s trap and drill scenes. Tay Keith is currently serving as the city’s latest virtuoso, handling the bulk of the city’s production for budding stars like Moneybagg Yo, Blac Youngsta, and Blocboy JB. The ill will amongst the city’s emcees is concerning, but the newfound exposure makes it a great time to be a rap fan in Memphis. Here’s five rappers keeping the sound alive at the moment.