These Three Memphis Women Are Ready to Take Over the World of Hip-Hop

By Zachary Corsa

The passing of Memphis horrorcore legend Gangsta Boo over the New Year’s holiday was a cruel and unexpected blow. The legendary MC of Three 6 Mafia fame was not some reclusive
former great who had fallen on hard times to languish in obscurity, but a still-vital and visible member of the Memphis music community, a trailblazer who clearly still had potent and
important work to do. But even while the shockwaves of such a tragic loss ripple through the local scene, several thrilling new female voices in Memphis hip-hop are poised to respectfully
carry Boo’s mantle. Let’s meet three of them.

Staysie Atoms

Whitehaven-raised Staysie Atoms is just twenty-two, but her work carries a mirthful swagger that rappers twice her age would kill to possess. It’s a brash young confidence that lends a
surreal energy to her proudly lo-fi tracks, which float like poisoned air on shimmering beds of ethereal reverb and pitch-shifting. There’s an eerie ‘liminal space’ feel to her beats, as if they
were sourced from a crumbling cassette tape found buried deep in the earth, and this makes Takyla Burnett’s teasing, slightly-menacing coo all the more ghostly, a specter haunting a feast
of melted, ambient cloud-rap. Atoms’ youthful exuberance finds her frequently name-checking her dog Benji and impulsively titling tracks like “THT 1 TIME I MADE A JOKE ABT SPACING OUT N SEEING U ON THE MOON ND U THOUGHT I WAS CORNY” with stream-of- consciousness directness, but there’s still a sinister sense of unease lurking in these tracks.

Ultimately, this music feels like it couldn’t have come into existence anywhere but Three 6’s Memphis. It’s Mystic Stylez filtered through the perpetual hall of mirrors of internet culture, of
memes and short attention spans and all-consuming ‘vibes’ and ‘moods’. Though Atoms cops to being forever in search of an ‘identity’, she’s already stumbled onto a compelling take on her
city’s hip-hop heritage that’s both a testament to the eternal power of that legacy and a means of pushing it excitingly forward.

Glorilla


Gloria Hallelujah Woods, aka GloRilla, is in many ways an intriguing North Memphis counterpart to Staysie Atoms’s drifting, chilling kinetics. She began dropping mixtapes at just nineteen, and before long had a viral hit on her hands with TikTok favorite “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)”. Grammy and BET Award nominations have duly follow, along with a hit Cardi B. collaboration (“Tomorrow”) and a spot alongside labelmate and fellow Memphian Moneybagg Yo with “On Wat U On”. Woods was even featured alongside Boo herself on Latto’s addictive 2022 single “FTCU”, making the latter’s influence on the former thrillingly clear. Woods is more of a traditionalist flow-
wise than a rapper like Atoms, her guttural churn of a voice calling to mind some unholy union of peak Lil’ Kim and one of her biggest admitted influences, Chicago drill pioneer Chief Keef. That gravelly growl rides hard-hitting beats and brutally honest verses that hold nothing back in vivid detail or visceral power. “F.N.F” boasts of unapologetically hedonistic moments spent with “ratchet-ass friends”, with feet gleefully planted on necks and cake consumed while “wishing a bitch would”. But despite the ‘slices of hood life’ narratives, Woods’ rhymes are less gritty documentary reportage than shrewd storytelling insight, cocky and proud but delivered with enough of a sly wink to keep everything good-natured. And as her most recent single “Internet
Trolls” shows, she’s also a fine chronicler of the wider culture at large. Having described her music as “crunk and dominant”, its clear Woods is ready to both define and transcend Memphis
hip-hop.

 

Gloss Up


In a local scene that’s witnessed the unfortunate end results of some bitter inter-personal rivalries, Gloss Up remains one of GloRilla’s closest confidantes, as heard on recent shared
single “BestFrenn”. But where her bestie Woods’ voice is as savage as a buzz saw, Gloss’s approach is more conversational, a highly-relatable drawl that comes across street-wise, funny,
and uncannily insightful. A fruitful affiliation with hotshot producer HitKidd and a hop onto Woods’ label, the eminent Atlanta powerhouse Quality Control, has resulted in a strong debut
mixtape, Before The Gloss Up, promising even more electrifying work to come. If Woods is out to burn down your entire life with her verses, Gloss seems amused that you even thought for a
moment you could challenge her supremacy. “I don’t need a lighter, like a Bic, yeah I stay lit,” she insists on the killer posse cut “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe” (which features three more promising Memphian female MCs – K Carbon, Aleza, and Slimeroni, all of whom possess their own singular voice and flow and are also well-worth your attention). Recently, when Gloss was asked by Vibe what separated Memphis artists like her and her crew from the rest of the pack, that insight mentioned above was in full effect: “I think we raw, aggressive, like we say whatever. I think we just don’t got no filter and everybody else just want to be Hollywood and act like they a perfect person. Memphis tell you what it is.” Whatever the afterlife holds for a champion of empowered female hip-hop like Gangsta Boo, if she hears or reads those words somewhere, one can imagine her smiling and nodding with appreciation. This is how the game continues to move forward.

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