South Memphis is Memphis

“You don’t look like you belong here.”         

New Isaac Hayes mural by Jamond Bullock, @alivepaint

New Isaac Hayes mural by Jamond Bullock, @alivepaint

          This was the first thing I heard as I got out my car to take a photo with a new mural installation. The funny thing is, I felt completely at ease and like I belonged. I know you’re a bit confused. Let’s start from the beginning.  

            Murals have become so cool and trendy now that most don’t remember when they were frowned upon. They were the trademarks of urban neighborhoods and suggested crime and danger. Boy have things changed. What was once bad has been flipped into something cool. Kinda like how the old housing projects have been replaced with  triple level luxury apartments. Go figure.  

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               One of the best artists in the city and a good friend of mine, Jamond Bullock @alivepaint, recently finished a new mural of Isaac Hayes, Ike as the hood calls him, at 745 McLemore. I think the location is perfect and will keep the trendy Instagrammers away and bring the real fans of art that also feel comfortable in the “inner city”. Why? Well this mural is on the side of a corner store. If you’re from any urban area, you know all about the corner store and you know exactly what I’m getting at. 

          As I was getting ready to snap a few pics of the mural, local fly guy Rick, who was standing in the parking lot of the store, approached me. “You don’t look like you belong around here”. I get this often and I kinda understand. I sort of stand out with my fitted jeans, sweater over my buttoned down shirt and oxfords. I definitely don’t look the part and the hood knows it. 

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“Nah my dad grew up around the corner in Lemoyne Gardens.” I said.  

Rick responded, “It ain’t about yo daddy. Where are you from?”  

          The one thing about Memphis is that where you’re from really means something. It’s like a gang of sorts. If you’re from South Memphis, you don’t go to North Memphis just because. You gotta have a pass from the members of that neighborhood. Rick was checking my hood credentials. 

“I grew up in Pussy Valley and Westwood.”  

“Oh you good young blood!”  

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          I passed the test. The insertion of PV probably validated my claims. Not many know that area of Memphis. Rick and I spoke about the mural. He wanted to know who painted it. He had a funny story about how he met Isaac Hayes and I told him my mom was his next door neighbor when she was a little girl. He asked if I could snap a pic of him and I agreed.

Fly Guy Rick

Fly Guy Rick

           That’s the real Memphis right there! Memphians will welcome you in if you come correct. Even if my hood credentials didn’t check out, as long as I was respectful and cool, they would extend that same courtesy. Memphians are tough in the outside but are full of Southern hospitality on the inside dying to get out. So don’t be afraid to visit the real hood to see one fo the coolest new murals in the city. If you see Rick, tell him Mike said what’s up.

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Life is for Living,

Michael B.

Beale Street Music Fest Gets it Right!

Finally, Beale Street Music Fest gets it right! This year’s lineup is amazing! The lineup is pictured below. If you can’t see it, here’s a LINK. For years, the lineups have either been kinda blah or didn’t really reflect the demographics of the city. This year, I think there’s something for just about everyone. I’m actually excited for more than 1 act. I was so geeked that 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa were here last year. They were literally the only reason I attended. 

This year I’m so excited about Erykah Badu, Logic, Tyler the Creator, Jack White, DRAM, Action Bronson, Juicy J, Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, Alanis Morissette, Ludacris, and Young Dolph. That’s a truly awesome list of artists! I’m definitely buying a 3 day pass this year! 

Who are you excited to see this year? How do you feel about this years lineup?  

Life is for Living, 

Michael B. 

 

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Don Lifted, High ISO & Mood

          I was recently invited out to a performance of Memphis artist Don Lifted for his upcoming Alero album. I really just wanted to enjoy some good music but something told me to bring my camera along, as Don Lifted is also a visual artist.

           I decided to only go with one lens, because changing lenses at a musical performance is a sure way to miss your shot. I decided to go with my trusty Sony FE 28mm f2. I love this little prime lens and I very rarely use zoom lenses.   

           When I arrived at the Dizzy Bird Music Hall, located at 656 Marshall Ave, I found the place completely black with a spot light on the artist. Even at f2, I was having issues with the lights. Then I decided I wanted to shoot this completely different. I wanted to create a moody them as well as have high ISO for a grunge look. I cranked the ISO of my Sony a7ii up to 8000 and let the lens to the rest. 

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          I think they turned out great! I added some pop to the colors and some fade to complete the moody look and they create a totally different vibe of the performance. I think these images really captured Don Lifted's visual art.  

           So what do you think? Are you feeling the high ISO, moody look?  

            Here's a little snippet of Don Lifted performing that I captured with my iPhone. Nothing how dark it was!!  

Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

Playa Fly- The Mad King

    If I were to compile a Top 5 list of my favorite rappers, Playa Fly would definitely make that list. I was introduced to his music way way back in middle school and I have been a huge fan ever since. 

A fitting title

A fitting title

    The deep southern accent laced lyrics over bass heavy beats had me instantly hooked. I bought every album I could find at the Hickory Ridge Mall. I told you this was way way back in the day. I even wanted a silk Versace shirt because he wore one on the Movin' On album cover. He made me proud that a guy from a not so great part of Memphis actually was doing something big. That really resonated with me. 

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    Fast forward to 2017 and I hear about Playa Fly performing at Hard Rock on New Years Day as part of their Day One Live series. There was no way I was going to miss out on seeing Playa Fly perform in concert in Memphis. 

The Set Up

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The king needs a throne  

The king needs a throne  

Mic check  

Mic check  

The Show

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     The show was everything I expected and more. Playa Fly performed all the classics as well as some awesome freestyles. The crowd was electric and the vibe was everything! I was pleasantly surprised to see fellow Memphis hip hop legends Gangsta Black and Tommy Wright III in attendance as well.  

Gangsta Blac

Gangsta Blac

Tommy Wright III

Tommy Wright III

       The live band made the show even better. Very Roots-esque. Hip hop with a band just sounds so much better to me. 

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        Here's a little video recap of the performance. That vibe was everything!!  

Playa Fly

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       This was one of the more energetic concerts I've ever attended and the crowd participation was amazing. This was truly a great experience. If you're a Playa Fly fan, what's your favorite track? Nobody Needs Nobody will go down as my favorite.  

Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

A Sit Down with KING Heartbreaker

     I recently got a chance to sit down with King Heartbreaker, an up and coming artist originally from Memphis, and got to pick his mind a little. A little background on King Heartbreaker; he grew up in the South Memphis area  and has recently moved to Atlanta to further his music ambitions. His first single "Do To You" sold more than 120,000 copies on iTunes and his first mixtape reached over 100,000 downloads, so he's firmly established himself as an artist to pay attention to. 

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    I met up with King Heartbreaker at Memphis Slim Collaboratory at his new album's listening party. It was a fitting location due to the rich musical history of not only Memphis Slim House, but also because of it's close proximity to Stax. Doing an interview at a recording studio was also something I've always wanted to do, So I thank King and his management team for this opportunity. 


How did you come to have the name King Heartbreaker? Is it an admission of breaking hearts?

"Growing up my family would always say I would grow to be a little heartbreaker. That meaning has evolved into more. I was always counted out so now King Heartbreaker is more like being an upset and proving naysayers wrong. It has nothing to do with breaking ladies hearts Haha."

So you're from South Memphis? Tell me a bit about growing up in Memphis and why you went the route of R&B instead of hip hop.

"Growing up in South Memphis was hard. Lots of killings and drugs around, but I had love for music and that kept me out of trouble. I had confidence in myself and I didn't want to be a product of my environment." 

"I went to a concert with my mom and aunt to see Usher and the Pyramid. He had just released the 8701 album and I saw how the ladies loved him and screamed for him and I wanted to be like him. Even church women were screaming for him!"

Did you have any positive role models growing up?

"My dad wasn't always around, so i never got the chance to learn a lot from him. My older friends and family members helped raise me. My mom allowed positive men around that could help teach me how to grow and survive. "

There's been a mass exodus from Memphis to Atlanta or Houston. Do you feel that move helped your career and did it effect your approach to music?

"I believed it helped me grow as a person and an artist to see something different from what you know. I wanted to know if I had what it took to go all the way and moving to Atlanta, where there's talent everywhere, was me challenging myself to be great. I got to see the ins and outs of the music industry."

Do you feel there's not enough support amongst Memphis artists?

"Definitely. I feel that it's getting better. It's a tough city and it's hard for some Memphis artists to trust someone they don't know. It's mainly on a who you know basis. In Atlanta, all the artists all help each other and are willing to reach out to help. It was completely different from what I was used to. You'll see T.I., 2 Chains and other artists working together. I want Memphis to be like that. Everyone helping each other and less out for only themselves. Personally, if you're from Memphis and doing something positive, I will never charge them for doing a song." 

I hear you've been working with Drumma Boy. How did that relationship come about?

"He saw one of my videos and later he gave me a call to come to the studio. We recorded a few songs and played 2K! Haha. He taught me a lot about the industry. He's let me turn down beats that went on to sell millions of copies, but he also taught me how to be more humble. He's a brother to me"

Ok, let's let's switch it up. Tell me about the song Big Daddy. 

"It's a song about the man a woman goes to see that will make her life easy and pleasurable. She can depend on him to fulfill her hearts desires. Make her feel better than she's ever felt before regardless of whatever situation she might be in. 

So describe your ideal woman

"A woman that know who she is and what she wants. A woman that's true to herself and her has her own goals and dreams."

Do you feel artists have a responsibility to use their platforms to create social change? Would you be comfortable with the younger generation looking at you as a role model? 

"Most definitely. With the amount of people that watch and follow you, you have a platform and a voice to say and do what others can't do. These people are buying your music and you have to be willing to accept the responsibility that comes along with that.  I also see where the artists come fro that don't want that responsibility. We are all humans and we all make mistakes. Some people think that because you have a certain platform and you can no longer make mistakes." 

"I don't mind being seen as a role model, but I'm still human. I've made mistakes and I'm going to make more. I prefer to be called a real model instead because I don't play a role. I'm just who I am and that's trying to be as real as I can possibly be." 

When you touchdown in the city, what's something you have to eat while in Memphis?

"Honestly, I gotta go to Dixie Queen! I have to have a 10 piece hot with a suicide slush! It's 24 hours so I can get it anytime I get back to Memphis. Also the BBQ. I've been to a lot of places and there's nothing like Memphis BBQ anywhere."

So the last and hardest question, Tigers or Grizzlies?

"Wow that is a hard question. Do I have to pick one? I have real love for both the Tigers and Grizzlies. If one has to go......I would say the Grizzlies, but I don't really want to pick one. The Grizzlies moved here and could move again. The Tigers were all we had for a while, so I will say keep the Tigers. Man, this is a really hard question!" 


Check out King Heartbreaker's newest single Oxygen! His new mixtape King Sh*t will be released on Dec 29th. Be on the lookout for that. 

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Bilal at Hi Tone

Bilal at the Hi Tone!! I couldn't believe it when I saw it. His song "Sometimes" really hit home with me about an exgirlfriend I had, so I had to go and see him live. I really enjoyed the show and the overall vibe. 

Ju Ju Bushman

The opening act was local musician Ju Ju and he really set the tone. This mans music is that right vibe to get you in the groove.  

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Marco Pave

Next up was hip hop artist Marco Pave. I really like this guy a lot and his lyrical content and flow are bananas! Yes, that's a good thing! He really got Hi Tone hyped! He even jumped on top of a speaker and went shirtless for a majority of his set!  

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Bilal

Bilal was even better in person than I've seen in any videos or in TV. He was so energetic and had great stage presence. His band was also equally amazing!! It definitely was a show that goes down as one of my favorites. 

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Fin

Life is for Living,  

Michael B.  

Artistik Lounge!!

Every third Sunday something happens in Midtown Memphis that all music lovers should take a look at. At 1555 Madison Ave, inside Minglewood Hall, there's Artistik Lounge. "It's a Lounge Mane" is the slogan and it definitely fits the venue. There are couches and oversized pillows throughout along with some really dope overhead lamps. The vibe of the place is definitely ultra chill and cool.  

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The event is hosted by Eso Tolsen while Siphne Aaye mixes up some of the flyest tracks in hip hop and R&B. Oh, they also have a bar! I mean you can't proclaim a lounge environment without some libations. 

Eso and Siphne freestyling  

Eso and Siphne freestyling  

So last night the Artistik Lounge featured one of my favorite Memphis MCs, Gangsta Blac! His album 74 Minutes of Bump got me through high school. When he was rocking the mic with fellow Memphis rapper Playa Fly, they were the best thing going! Nobody Needs Nobody is arguably the best song to come out of Memphis to this day.  

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Gangsta Blac came through and delivered exactly what I experienced when I was a youngin beating on my desk with a pen making beats; that raw underground Memphis hip hop! The crowd was loving it! It really took me back to a great time for Memphis hip hop. You know Memphis rappers created not only jooking, but crunk music as well, right? 

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So mark your calendars for the next Artistik Lounge! I don't have the date in front of me, but I will definitely update you guys via my IG (@_one901) and also via Facebook (one901).  

The cover is $10 so it won't break your pockets and it's a great event to network or bring a date. There were some local movers and shakers in attendance, along with local musicians like Marco Pave. 

Hip Hop artist Marco Pave

Hip Hop artist Marco Pave

So there you have it Memphis! Here's another great event that the city showcases that's not only fun but positive. I would like to thank all the people that help with Artistik Lounge each month. You guys are awesome and very gracious. 

I can't wait for the next set and I hope to see more of the city participate as well. So come on out and enjoy but remember, It's a Lounge Mane!  

 

Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

 

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Privilege Music Fest

While food is normally my first love, Music is a close second. How can it not be? I was born and raised in Memphis, so music is engrained into my soul. Now, I can't technically hold a note or hit a high note, at least not outside of my shower, but I do know good music when I hear it. It's easy to hear good music in Memphis because it's literally everywhere! 

When my good friend, Jamal Whitlow, who's the president and CEO of Privileged Memphis, hit me up about a music fest he had coming up featuring local talent, I was instantly hooked. I knew this event would be good, because I've been to a Privileged event and it was really nice and well organized. 


Jamal Whitlow

The Privileged Music Fest was held at historic Handy Park on Beale Street. The perfect setting for a first run at a Memphis festival, which has housed some of the best talent over the years. The festival was hosted by radio personality, Ena Esco, and Bruno Mars band member, Kameron Whalum.

Esa Esco and Kameron Whalum

I really enjoyed the festival and loved that it featured diverse talent. Memphis is a city that's still held back at times by the past racial tensions, so it's good to see the diversity of Memphis talent on display. Also, regardless of your race, people know good music. as long as it's good, nothing else even matters. 

Life is for Living,

Michael B.