5 under-the-radar rappers from Memphis you should know about

Inlcuding Co Cash, DeeMula, Savages, Kenny Muney, and Finese 2Tymes.

July 09, 2018

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.

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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.

Co Cash

South Memphis’ Co Cash, formerly known as Rico Dinero, is the next man up in Tay Keith’s camp. On his most popular track thus far, "Cash Day," he switches between traditional Memphis flows and a Bankroll Fresh/G Herbo hybrid, which makes sense in terms of regional migration. Interstate 55 — spanning Memphis, St. Louis, and Chicago — is one of the rap’s most unsung stretches in terms of sonic influence and, in the past decade, Atlanta has become a convenient escape from the local scene. Cash’s latest release, the Foolhardy tape, produced entirely by Tay Keith, dropped in mid-May. Just ten tracks with no features, but there is a great Project Pat “Out There” remake.

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DeeMula

DeeMula’s slippery delivery, silly punchlines, and smirking charisma make him another breakout candidate and above all, an apt representation of the city’s personality. After a strong showing on a collab tape with Moneybagg Yo, he dropped his fourth solo mixtape Let Me Get Dat, Vol. 2 in early May. The project’s standout track, “Str8 On Ya” is two minutes packed with smug smart-assery. The audio racked up over a million YouTube views before the song even had a video. Like most Memphis rappers, he has a knack for freestyling. His “Rover Remix” and “Freestyle 8” are solid, but “Can I” and “Third Person” show a budding pen game that’s worth watching.

Savages

Memphis has always had a reputation for being a city of pimps. 901 Savages (or sometimes just Savages) — Swagg Jazz, BBJ, and Shy Glizzy stan, Erica Glizzy — rebut their male counterparts on a bar-for-bar basis. Their July 2016 tape Savage World 2 built a sizable buzz around the area. The lead single, “Break Em,” is at 2 million views and counting, but the group couldn’t fully capitalize as five days after the video hit YouTube, member BBJ was shot in the neck outside a gas station in Southeast Memphis. Months later, BBJ made a full recovery, Glizzy had a son, and the group downsized two members. Amidst all the changes, former group member Tru Dexter remains on good terms with the Savages as she focuses on her own solo career. Women from Memphis code switch between Dolly Parton and La Chat mid-sentence and, as a result, the Savages’s music sounds like shell casings with sweet tea on the side. Savage World 3 is on the way, but in the meantime, check the first two chapters on Spinrilla.

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Kenny Muney

Kenny Muney stands as the city’s rap emissary — he’s worked with almost every other rapper in the city, a notable feat considering the scene’s contentious climate. Unfortunately, this diplomat status doesn’t come with immunity. Two months after dropping his Mud 2 Muney 2 tape, Kenny suffered minor gunshot wounds. He shrugged it off and kept performing on crutches, only to survive another shooting at a show a week later. Kenny may be the most crossover-ready rapper on the list by virtue of being the least callous. With a similarly precise delivery as Moneybagg Yo and Key Glock and a more mature approach to ~songs for the ladies~, the 21-year-old’s Mud 2 Muney 2 tape is a smoother listen than his projects from his peers with just as much thump. For the foreseeable future, he’s locked in with in-house producer Ace Charisma, but plans to drop a tape with Tay Keith soon.

Finese 2Tymes

Finese 2Tymes is like many Southern rappers before him in that, at times, he sounds like he’s preaching as much as he is rapping. The East Memphis native joined Moneybagg Yo’s BreadGang after his release from prison in 2016, but like so many Memphis artists tend to do, they eventually fell out. His biggest single, “Going Straight In,” has over 16 million views, but this seven-minute pre-show freestyle on a teacher's desk is a perfect example of his appeal: bars as humorous as they are harrowing and an uncanny knack for harmony. He’s currently serving an eight-year sentence on weapons charges after two shooting incidents in two weeks — the latter at a club in Little Rock, Arkansas where 28 people were injured. In December, he dropped his first track from behind bars, ”Understanding.”

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5 under-the-radar rappers from Memphis you should know about