Tommy Wright III on “Devil’s Night” at Black Lodge

By: Ezra Wheeler

Beginning in the early 1990s, Memphis has been at the epicenter of a subgenre now commonly known as “horrorcore,” a downright terrifying brand of hip-hop that is marked by its lo-fi sound, wickedly profane lyrics, triple time flows, and samples pulled directly from horror movie scores. From that crop of early horrorcore pioneers, few were as masterful and influential as Tommy Wright III and Gangsta Boo, both of whom will be performing on Saturday night at Black Lodge’s “Devil Night” alongside rising rap star Lukah, death metal band Terminal Nation, and raucous rockers Lavendear.

“The Trap Godfather” Tommy Wright III took some time out to speak with us about Saturday’s show, the enduring legacy of Memphis horrorcore, and what he’s got planned next.

“First off, let me introduce myself to folks who may not know me. I’ve been called a major contributor to crunk music, an innovator of trap music, and a pioneer of the Memphis sound. I’m somebody that did a whole lot with nothing, and eventually took it from the streets of Memphis to all over the world. Along with a lot of other people, I helped to create a sound that is really influencing some of the most popular music going today. People may not know this, but a lot of the big artists today are reaching out to us O.G.s and asking us to contribute verses, production, or samples. It’s crazy.

I’ll be honest…I still kinda feel like I’m on this pandemic vacation, but I’m looking at this Halloween show coming up at Black Lodge like a bootcamp to help me get back in the swing of things. The last show I played was in February of 2020 in Baltimore. It really looked like that was going to be an action packed year for me- I had plans to tour with Post Malone, there was a show booked in Barcelona, and then boom. You know the rest.

That said, I’m looking forward to getting things going again starting with Saturday night. I see this show as a continuation of a Halloween tradition that me and the guys at Black Lodge started a couple of years ago when I played one of their first shows at the new location on Halloween night. The difference between then and this year is that we’ve added some more fire power by bringing in another Memphis legend in Gangsta Boo. We’ll also be rocking with one of the hottest new lyricists on the scene, Big Lukah, along with a couple of hot new bands in Terminal Nation and Lavendear. I really think this could kick off something special that we can run back every year.

This will actually be Tommy and Gangsta Boo part two. We got paired up for a Pabst Blue Ribbon party in Atlanta several years ago, which was huge. It gave us a chance to really connect, because before that we had really only kicked it once or twice. Our histories obviously overlap a lot and I think we both were pioneers in the Memphis rap game, so I can’t wait to rock with her again. I think we make a good combination and we’ve discussed touring and working together more after this show, so fingers crossed.

In terms of what’s next, I just made a booking for L.A. for a project with Adidas. Adidas is basically about to start a new campaign focused on the Memphis influence we’ve been talking about. They’ve got gangster walkers, DJ Spanish Fly, and several others on board. I think that shows how heavy that influence still is. Our sound just stands the test of time.”

“Bad Timing Presents: Devil’s Night at Black Lodge” kicks off at 8 PM on Saturday October 30th. Tickets are available for $25–click here.

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