Memphis rap

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Memphis rap, also known as Memphis hip hop or Memphis horrorcore,[1] is a regional subgenre of hip hop music that originated in Memphis, Tennessee in the early 1990s. It has been characterized by its often low budget, repetitive production and its occasional lo-fi sound[1] that utilizes the Roland TR-808 drum machine[2] and minimal synth melodies.[3] The genre commonly features double time flows and samples ranging from soul and funk to horror film scores and classical music, as well as hooks from songs by related rappers in the same genre, although DIY production without sampling is common as well.[4]

Memphis artists released recordings on independent labels. The dominance of New York and Los Angeles’s hip hop scenes forced southern artists to form an underground style and sound to compete with the other regions. Artists used a grassroots approach through word-of-mouth in the club scene and mixtapes to promote their music.[5]

DJ Spanish Fly is commonly cited as one of the pioneers of the genre,[6] being the bridge between 1980s electro-funk and the heavier gangster rap of the following decade.[7]

Other early artists and groups associated with Memphis rap include T-Rock, C-Rock, Gangsta Pat, La Chat, Skimask Troopaz, Gimisum Family, Project Pat, Tommy Wright III, Princess Loko, Baby OG, II Tone, DJ Squeeky, DJ Zirk, DJ Sound, Blackout, Playa Fly, Gangsta Boo, Al Kapone, Mental Ward Click,MC Mack, Lil Noid,[8] 8Ball & MJG and Three 6 Mafia, with the latter two achieving relative commercial success.[9][10][11] Three 6 Mafia's Mystic Stylez and other releases by members of the group such as Come with Me 2 Hell by DJ Paul and Lord Infamous,[12] and Lil Noid's Paranoid Funk,[8] as well as DJ Spanish Fly's early mixtapes were particularly influential in the genre's development.

Influence and modern sound[edit]

Despite largely staying underground, it has attained a cult following from MP3 blogs, influencing rappers such as Lil Ugly Mane, Denzel Curry, and SpaceGhostPurrp, as well as the rise of crunk, trap music, and phonk.[1][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Meara, Paul (February 7, 2014). "Come Back To Hell: The Resurgence of Memphis Horrorcore". HipHopDX. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  2. ^ Setaro, Shawn (March 14, 2016). "Are the Sounds of Regional Hip-Hop Going Extinct?". New York Observer. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  3. ^ Chan, Nin (October 12, 2004). "Eightball & MJG :: Memphis Underworld". Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  4. ^ Nosnitsky, Andrew (September 19, 2012). "Revival Tactics". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  5. ^ Dempsey, Brian. "Memphis Hip Hop". Tennessee Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  6. ^ Hebblethwaite, Phil (January 25, 2011). "808 State Of Mind: Proto-Crunk Originator DJ Spanish Fly". The Quietus. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  7. ^ "Underground & Infamous: Early Memphis Hip-Hop". 24 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b Reid, Mark (May 22, 2015). "Lil NoiD's uncooked, influential Memphis rap cassette Paranoid Funk to receive vinyl reissue". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  9. ^ Baker, Soren (August 30, 2008). "East Coast? West Coast? No, Try the Mississippi". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  10. ^ Grem, Darren E. "The South Got Something to Say": Atlanta's Dirty South and the Southernization of Hip-Hop America." Southern Cultures 12.4 (2006): 55-73. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Sep 14, 2011.
  11. ^ Westhoff, Ben. "Finger-Lickin' Rap." Utne Reader 166 (2011): 80-83. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Sep 14, 2011
  12. ^ Ivey, Justin (May 23, 2015). "Three 6 Mafia's 'Mystic Stylez' Is Still a Southern Hip-Hop Essential 20 Years Later". Complex. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  13. ^ Haynes, Gavin (2017-01-27). "What the phonk? The genre that's gripping Generation Z". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-04-14.

External links[edit]