Memphispedia: A Memphis Encyclopedia

By: Ivy K. Arnold

There’s no place like Memphis, Tennessee.  To natives, it’s not only a city, but it’s a unique: state, culture, experience, and so much more!  To our neighbors and other outsiders, here’s the 1st edition of Memphispedia: The M from A to Z!


Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway
One of Memphis’ favorite native sons, how could we not love Penny? From ballin at Trezevant, to then Memphis State, to the NBA, and now back home coaching our Memphis Tigers Men’s Basketball team! And let’s not forget the catchy King Cotton commercials.
Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival
For the past 34 years, Africans and African Americans have celebrated and honored the culture and heritage of our homeland. Hosted annually at Robert R. Church Park and Beale St., you’ll see a plethora of cultural performances, food vendors, merchants, and more! Talk about a beautiful melanin overload!


Beale Street
I’m sure we’ve all seen some interesting things go down on Beale Street, whether you was out kicking it with friends or having a wild night before a wedding.  Significant to the history of blues music, it’s also a historic site for several civil rights events.
Barbeque (BBQ)
Memphians could care less about the makeshift barbeque other cities claim to have.  If it ain’t Memphis barbeque, we don’t want it! Why? Because who has better ribs, chopped shoulder, and brisket than US?! I mean why else would the International BBQ Fest be stationed here


Crystal Palace
#LongLiveCP !  The real Memphis vets will always stay ten toes down for the premier skating rink that taught us unlimited life lessons and brought the best of adolescence memories.  Still standing down on Third St, was once the place where you could hear the music blasting from the street, especially on the nights when there were performances made by our favorite rap stars.  And let’s not forget the infamous smell of Crystal Palace, if you know you know.
Circle B
Memphis is the home of the famous Circle B Sausage Company.  Most of our up north and west coast cousins and aunties always come down to visit with a cooler cause where else can you get the best damn smoked sausages, hot links, and more? Nowhere but in Memphis baby!  Where else would one consider breakfast to be a slightly burnt smoked sausage with white rice and a biscuit on the side?


Dixie Queen
Whether it’s two in the morning or two in the afternoon, you can always count on Dixie Queen to be open and ready to serve you breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack.  Most Memphians can’t tell you where a Waffle House is at, mainly because of #1 Dixie Queen is better, #2 we don’t own many, & #3: see reason #1. Now if you wait to go late at night, be patient with all the FedEx folks in line and be careful to not get the grease on ya clothes.


Easy Way
Long live Easy Way, one our favorite Memphis grocery/produce stores.  Known for its bright orange buildings and name painted in bold black letters, it was hard to miss.  This was the real deal Whole Foods and Wild Oats before those retailers even touched down in the city.


Fye is simply a verb and adjective.  In the use of a verb it’s mainly quoted as, “They finna fye on his ass!” or “ I’ma fye yo ass up!”.  In the case of an adjective it is most used in relation to music or food. “This junt too fye!” or “Damn, this hoe fye! Who this?”


Gilbert Earl Patterson was a minister that served as the second youngest international Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle of the Church of God In Christ (COGIC).  GE Patterson Avenue and Patterson Flats are named after him.
Memphis is home to several historic and famous mansions, with one of them being the internationally-known Graceland.  Home to Elvis Presely, located in the middle of Whitehaven is a white mansion, planes, a graffiti covered brick wall, and more that you truly can’t miss at all.


Hernando de Soto Bridge
Technically we refer to this bridge as “The M Bridge” due to it’s shape and huge play in our skyline.  However our elders call it “The New Bridge”.  Either way, it’s a relief to see when traveling back from the west, and the new light display has amped up our admiration for it.


Interstate 240 (I-240)
Anywhere you wanna go in Memphis, just hop on I-240 and within 20 minutes (without traffic delays) you’ll be at your destination.  Shoot even if you want to take a trip out the city, it’ll connect you to I-55 (Chicago/St. Louis) or even I-40 (Nashville/Little Rock).


Junt is a noun.  It is practically anything you can imagine.  It’s food, a house, a car, work, your crush, clothes, LITERALLY ANYTHING!  In some cases, junt is also a synonym for another favorite Memphis term, hoe.
Jack Pirtle’s
You ain’t had gravy till you’ve had Jack Pirtile’s gravy.  Chileeee it’s good enough to drank, but it’s definitely recommended to sop practically anything in it.  Don’t forget an order of gizzards and chicken too.  You can pass any location, especially the one on Bellevue and smell it all through the air and even through your car air filter.


Growing up in Memphis, we’ve all called K97 at least five times trying to win tickets to Summer Jam or Yo Gotti’s Birthday Bash, and more.  When it came time for prom we made sure to vote our school for the Platinum Prom, or we called in just to give a shoutout to our boo.  DJ Devin Steel (THE Highschool’s very own), Big Sue, & more always kept us laughing and lit especially for the five’o’clock traffic jam!


LeMoyne-Owen College
The only HBCU in Memphis, TN is LeMoyne-Owen College.  Residing in South Memphis, many notable African Americans such as civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks obtained their degree here.


We’re not sure how many times we have to tell y’all that WE NEVER PUT A “Y” IN MANE!  Mane is a pronoun that is used in several ways.  It can be used in a greeting, a term of endearment, and much more. E.g. “Wassup mane! What it do mane? Aye mane say mane. Mane fresh as hell ain’t it?”
Memphis City Schools
Memphis vets ages 23+ remember good ole MCS.  From the curriculum all the way down to the legendary sugar cookies, we’ll never forget the institution that educated us and made us valuable products of public schools.  This educational era will never be recreated, and it is quite an honor to own a high school diploma that reads “Memphis City Schools” in bold.


Mane look, in Memphilations 100:1, written by Playa Fly, he said “Nobody needs nobody” and that’s just that on that.  This motivational scripture basically tells us that shit gets real out here, but at the end of the day you got it. Hold your head up mane!


Orpheum Theatre
Who needs Broadway when we have the Orpheum?  This historic beauty is always providing us top notch theatrical entertainment unlike any other.  We’ve adored watching Cats the musical, India Arie, The Lion King, and more!


Talk about a major flex.  Outside of Memphis, Egypt, who do you know has a giant pyramid in their front yard? I’ll wait. On top of that, it’s silver and reflects in the sun.  Then, it can be transformed into practically anything, from NBA games to graduations, to a museum, and shoot you see we turned it into a world within its own with flipping it to a Bass Pro.
Paper Chase
“UH I’M STILL DOING THISSSS!”  Please move out the way if you ever hear this song come on, cause you will get Paper Chased out the way.  Made by EP, this song is a must on your playlist especially if you trynna turn up an athletic game.


Queen Steamboat
Iconic to the South, but definitely to Memphis is the Queen Steamboats.  Sitting in between Mud Island and the City, you can take a trip up and down the Mississippi.


Robert R. Church
Robert Reed Church Sr. was THE first African American millionaire in the South.  A prominent entrepreneur, businessman, and landowner that rose during the American Civil War, made a lasting impression on the city that’s still noticeable till this day.  He funded for African Americans in Memphis to be able to enjoy the same luxuries as White Memphians, by developing a public park, concert hall, and more.
Ruby Wilson
“Miss Ruby sings the blues so you don’t have to!”


Southern Heritage Classic
Memphis’ premier fall weekend is the one and only Southern Heritage Classic!  Shoutout to Fred Jones for this gem, as it’s a true Memphian tradition.  Having Tennessee State University and Jackson State University play at the Liberty Bowl, along with the long list of events during the weekend has provided several ways to engage with and encourage the youth of Memphis to attend historically black colleges and universities.
Statue of Liberation Through Christ
One of the many ways that you know you’re in Hickory Hill (East Memphis) is when you see the Statue of Liberty at the intersection of Winchester and Kirby.  Yea I know you probably thought it was only in New York, but that’s obviously just a replica that they have up north LOL!


Three 6 Mafia
The name really speaks for itself.  Standing the test of time is Memphis’ forever favorite rap group, Three 6 Mafia.  DJ Paul, Juicy J, Gangsta Boo, Crunchy Black, Lord Infamous, and Koopsta Knicca. Also, of course we HAVE to mention Prophet Posse/Hypnotize Camp Posse (La Chat, Project Pat, Frayser Boy, Kingpin Skinny Pimp, and more).
That’s What’s Up
THE ULTIMATE MEMPHIS ANTHEM!  Made by Yo Gotti, this anthem is bound to be in every Memphian’s playlist, even your pastor’s that wasn’t always saved and sanctified.  Warning, this song will cause Memphians to go crazy and sway their hands around with their pointed index finger due to the authentic lyrics.


In most cases this term is used as “ Getcho’ Uglass…” followed by a mouthful of adjectives as to why you’re ugly.


Voodoo Village
Also known as St. Peter’s Spiritual Temple, this compound was started by Wash “Doc” Harris.  Due to it sitting on a dead end street, and all of the masonic art, many Memphians coined the compound as Voodoo Village.


WDIA was the first radio station in America that was programmed entirely for African Americans.  We all remember riding to school listening to Bobby O’Jay on WDIA or Tom Joyner Morning Show on WLOK.
“Wassup Mane”
Now if you hear this phrase directed at you, there’s a few things to keep in mind.  Either you’re about to be verbally or physically embarrassed like never before or folks just playing with you.  Now if you can hold your own, then do what you need to do, but if you can’t then just gone mentally prepare yourself to take a big L in checkin and fighting.


XFL Memphis Mania
The XFL’s Memphis Mania was a professional football team that was also known as The Ax.  At slightly over 20,000 fans per game, they played at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in the western division.


Young Dolph
Castalia’s very own, bringing us Memphis classics such as Preach, Get Paid, as well as the Rich Slave and King of Memphis albums.  This South Memphis rapper always keeps it 100, not only with his lyrics but also when it comes to giving back to the city.


Zippin Pippin
Also known as Elvis’ favorite roller coaster, the Zippin Pippin once stood as an all wood ride at our beloved Liberty Land Amusement Park.  Riding it was yet another right of passage for Memphians, and outsiders as well.

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