Fresh Fall Sounds: Five Memphis Albums We Love Right Now

By: Ezra Wheeler

Blueboys “Something Wicked”

For their debut album “Something Wicked,” the hip-hop trio Blueboys nod at Ray Bradbury’s classic horror novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” which tells the story of a mysterious and ghastly traveling carnival. From the opening track “In the End,” it becomes immediately clear why they chose this title as the album is filled with music that is simultaneously spooky yet playful. While Memphis rappers are dominating the national charts with street-savvy trap hits, it’s refreshing to hear a group come out of left field with a sound that is a strange but exhilarating mixture of classic Memphis horrorcore, Travis Scott’s signature haziness, and Outkast’s fearless experimentation.

 

Memphissippi Sounds “Welcome to the Land”

Although Memphis will always be known as “The Home of the Blues,” the genre has taken a backseat in recent years, especially among younger musicians of the so-called “hip-hop generation.” Enter the duo of Damion “Yella P” Pearson and Cameron Kimbrough, two talented musicians steeped in the blues tradition who serendipitously met on Beale Street in 2017. After realizing the hypnotic power that came from combining Kimbrough’s stripped-down drum style with Pearson’s virtuosic harmonica playing, the two formed the group Memphissippi Sounds, which presents a contemporary twist on the hill country blues. Having already won over fans throughout the region with their live performances, the duo have released their excellent debut “Welcome to the Land,” a promising sign that the Memphis blues is alive and well.

 

Lukah “Why Look Up, God’s in the Mirror”

If we were to name a Memphis “Artist of the Year” for 2021, it would be hard to bet against South Memphis rapper Lukah, who has released two excellent albums in the span of just a few months. While he gained well-deserved national praise and recognition for his gritty and lyrically-dense album “When the Black Hand Touches You,” he somehow upped the ante just a few months later with “Why Look Up, God’s in the Mirror,” an album that is even more grim and introspective than its predecessor. While Lukah’s music is far from what is generally considered “radio friendly,” it’s hard to imagine him not breaking into the mainstream in the near future.

 

So Gung Ho “So Gung Ho”

For the first release on their new indie label Blast Habit Records, label owners Jared McStay and Graham Winchester went with a band that they knew would represent their brand well. That’s because So Gung Ho is a collaborative project between McStay and Winshester, along

with longtime collaborator Seth Moody. On their self-titled debut, the trio display a raucous and raw take on power pop and punk that is a far cry from the overproduced shlock that too often represents rock ‘n’ roll these days. If So Gung Ho’s debut is any indication, then Blast Habit is well positioned to be Memphis’ newest indie rock powerhouse.

 

Don Lifted “325i”

Few artists, local or otherwise, are as adept at presenting their emotional vulnerability in a more visceral way than Don Lifted, the indie rap darling who has become one of Memphis’ most celebrated artists over the past several years. With his Fat Possum debut “325i,” he continues his unbelievable winning streak with yet another gorgeous album that owes as much sonically to Radiohead and Bon Iver than any fellow hip-hop artist. In a city blessed with a treasure trove of top-tier talent, Don Lifted continues to stand apart as a singular talent who perpetually exceeds expectations.

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