Memphis rap is a regional subgenre of hip-hop music that originated in Memphis, Tennessee in the early 1990s. As you can see, the Memphis hip-hop scene is relatively new. It is also known as Memphis horrorcore. Memphis rappers have released many recordings on independent labels. Because of the dominance of the New York and Los Angeles hip-hop scene, southern artists had to form an underground style and sound to compete with the regions.
The Memphis rap genre commonly featured double-time flows and samples ranging from soul and funk to horror film scores and classical music. You can also notice hooks from songs by rappers in the same genre. The DIY Production without sampling is common in the Memphis hip-hop scene.
DJ Spanish Fly is cited as one of the pioneers of the genre in Memphis. He was the bridge between the 1980s funk and electro music and the heavier gangster rap of the 1990s. There are other popular Memphis rappers, and we will try to take a look at most of them.
Despite largely staying underground, the Memphis rap scene has attained a cult following from mp3 blogs to the rise of trap music and influential rappers.
Born Adolph Robert Thornton Jr in July 1985, Young Dolph was an American rapper. He passed away in November 2021.
Young Dolph released his debut album King of Memphis in 2016, peaking at Number 49 on the Billboard Hot 200 Chart.
He was actually born in Chicago. But his family moved to Memphis when he was only 2 years old. Adolph has two sisters and two brothers. He is a second cousin to rapper Juice Wrld.
Like many of his peers in South Memphis, he was raised by his grandmother. His parents experienced crack cocaine addiction. During his childhood, he would see his parents every few weeks.
He was fatally shot in Memphis while picking up cookies for his mother on November 17, 2021.
Born as Mario Sentell Giden Mims in May 1981, Yo Gotti is an American rapper and record executive. He released his debut album in 1996 under the alias Lil Yo. He followed it up with several albums in the 2000s and 2010s.
As a record executive, he founded the record label Collective Music Group. His record label has signed artists like Moneybagg Yo, 42 Dugg, Blac Youngsta, and EST Gee.
In September 2021, he announced that he had become a co-owner of the Major League Soccer franchise, D.C. United. His eleventh studio album, CM10: Free Game was released in February 2022.
Born Bryson Lashum Potts in November 2002, NLE Choppa is among the younger Memphis rappers. He was previously known as YNR Choppa. The American rapper rose to fame with his 2019 single, Shotta Flow. It was certified platinum by the RIAA and peaked in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
NLE Choppa released his debut EP, called Cottonwood, in 2019. His debut studio album came out in 2020 and peaked in the Top 10 of the US Billboard 200 chart. Some of the hit singles included Camelot and Walk em Down.
His mother, Angela Potts, serves as his manager. She helps him manage his career since NLE started expressing interest in rap music.
Many critics and fans praise him for his animated vocals and energetic raping. Those are noticeable in his breakout single, Shotta Flow. Some critics also describe his vocals as melodic, but heavy-hitting.
You can say the gangster Al Capone had no connections with Memphis. But Alphonzo Bailey wanted to use a stage name similar to the famous MOB boss. Al Kapone is an American rapper known principally for his underground success in the Memphis hip-hop scene in the 1990s.
Following a decade of enjoying a cult status in the underground scene, he began to enjoy some mainstream success after his song appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Hustle & Flow.
Famous by his stage name, Paul Duane Beauregard is an American DJ and record producer. He is also a Memphis rapper and founding member of the hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia. He was also the brother of the late rapper Lord Infamous.
DJ Paul started his career in the late 1980s as a DJ and released a couple of solo tapes. He also has three collaboration albums with Lord Infamous as The Serial Killaz. They later introduced Juicy J to the mix and the three founded the group Three 6 Mafia.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the group helped them achieve national success.
DJ Spanish Fly
Many people will tell you that Memphis hip-hop was so ahead of its time that the world is only ready for it now, some 30 years later. As we said in the beginning, many critics consider DJ Spanish Fly as the person who invented Memphis rap. He is the Godfather of Memphis hip hop.
Fly got into music in the 1980s and became an electro DJ. Local clubs were packed, but they were not playing hip-hop songs.
The musical veteran and pioneer started out DJing and rapping on the block in his South Memphis neighborhood of Clementine.
Born Jordan Michael Houston III in April 1975, he is an American rapper and record producer. Juicy J is another founding member of the Southern hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia, established in 1991. With that group, he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the single It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp.
Juicy released his solo debut album, Chronicles of the Juice Man, in 2002. In 2011, he announced that he was a part-owner of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang Records.
The next year, he signed a solo deal with Columbia Records. For his feature on the hit single Dark Horse by Katty Perry, he received a Grammy Award nomination.
Juicy is the younger brother of fellow rapper Project Pat.
Born in December 1999 as Rodney Lamont Wright Jr, he is better known by his stage name Big30. It is stylized as BIG30. The American rapper is famous for his feature on his childhood friend Pooh Shiesty’s single, Neighbors.
The single peaked at Number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He released his debut mixtape King of Killbranch in September 2021.
In June 2020, fellow rapper Gucci Mane called out Big30 because he allegedly posted him on his Instagram account multiple times. Gucci Mane claimed they met only once. Wright didn’t respond, but the beef ended with Big30 appearing on Gucci Mane’s single, Shit Crazy.
Born as Cedric Coleman, he is better known as Frayser Boy. The famous rapper was formerly signed to Hypnotize Minds, a record label run by Three 6 Mafia founders, DJ Paul, and Juicy J.
In 2014, he released his fourth solo album, titled Not No Moe through Phixieous Entertainment. The same year, he was featured in the documentary film Take Me to the River alongside Terrence Howard, Snoop Dogg, Yo Gotti, and more.
We mentioned this guy before. Born in February 1973, he is an American rapper and the older brother of Juicy J. He was formerly a member of the hip-hop group The Kaze, joining it in 1998.
He started his career with an appearance on the early releases of his brother’s group in the 1990s. He served several years in prison for robbery charges and then got back to the music scene with his 1999 solo album, Ghetty Green.
His latest collaboration is with Drake. He appears on the single Knife Talk on Drake’s album Certified Lover Boy, released in 2021.
Born as Chastity Daniels, La Chat is one of the few female rappers in the Memphis hip-hop scene. The American female rapper is famous for her association with the Hypnotize Minds record label.
She was one of the few female members of the hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia alongside Gangsta Boo.
In 2001, she made a guest appearance on the song Chickenhead by Project Pat. The song received Gold record status.
She left Hypnotize Minds after the release of her debut album, Murder She Spoke in 2001. La Chat won Female Rap Artist of the Year at the SCM Awards in 2010.
Born as Lola Chantrelle Mitchell in 1979, Gangsta Boo is an American rapper and the first female member of the Three 6 Mafia. It was there she rose to prominence.
But she left the group and label in 2002, months after the release of her second album, Both Worlds *69 due to money disputes and issues about the promotion of her album.
Since then, she has released mixtapes alongside fellow artists La Chat and Yelawolf. In 2013, she joined the Three 6 Mafia spin-off group, Da Mafia 6ix. But she departed from the group in 2014.
OG Boo Dirty
The American rapper from Memphis, Tennessee has released several mixtapes in the 2010s. His debut album Billionaire Dream came out in 2016.
As for his mixtapes, they are Already Famous, Born a Soulja, Die a Vet, Definition of a G, The story of OG, Definition of a G 2, and Street Certified.
He was born Lance Taylor, but fans recognize him as OG Boo Dirty.
Let’s finish off the list of Memphis rappers with Playa Fly. Born as IBN Young in September 1977, the American rapper was also a member of the Three 6 Mafia. At the time, he was known as Lil Fly.
But he stopped collaborating with the group in 1995 due to monetary disputes and philosophical differences.
As Playa Fly, he released one independent album before signing a three-album contract with Super Sigg Records. During that period, he released many underground hits. His most famous single is Nobody Needs Nobody.
But fans also remember his Triple Bitch Mafia, a song in which he lashed out against his former group.
After leaving Super Sigg, he created his own label named after his grandmother, Minnie Mae Muzik.