It’s been more than a decade since North Memphis-bred lyricist Yo Gotti dropped his underground debut album From Da Dope Game to The Rap Game. And the artistic growth that he’s managed to acquire over the years following its release manifests significantly on his sixth album, I Am.
Gotti refrains from switching up the formula that’s gained him popularity in the past on the album; the tales of street life, being one of the most authentic spitters in the rap game, and enjoying the spoils of hard labor are all present on I Am. But there is a sense of growth in Gotti's perspective on life as well as his ear for production.
On the album’s opening track and namesake, “I Am,” Gotti reminisces on his rags to riches story of going from dope-peddling in Memphis to generating millions from his words. “I used to save pennies, now I stay next door to Penny Hardaway,” Gotti spits on the song. He also uses the track to reveal the meaning behind the album's moniker: “I am the struggle. I am the hustle. I am the city. I’m the pot in the kitchen."
“Don’t Come Around” is a well-crafted song that features singer Kendall Morgan. On the song’s first verse, Gotti drops bars about both the respect and disloyalty that comes with being a prosperous street hustler. However, he takes a different approach on the song’s second verse, requesting the attention of young women wrapped up in social media. “Half-naked pictures but you’re looking for a gentleman," Gotti says, alluding to how the image that ladies portray online can potentially have a detrimental effect.
Elements of The Luniz’ “I Got 5 On It” are incorporated in the beat of the Rich Homie Quan-featured “I Know.” And “Sorry” finds Gotti sending a sarcastic apology to those he's offended or hurt with his candid, nonchalant attitude.
One of the album’s best records is the Meek Mill-assisted “F-U.” Over a bass-filled beat perfect for any set of subwoofers, the two artists deliver hard-hitting flows in an I-don't-give-a-damn fashion.
Gotti opens up about the complicated relationship he shares with his child’s mother on “Pride To The Side.” He also addresses a childhood friend that he hustled with who resorted to using the product they were selling on the song.
I Am is Gotti’s first release under Epic Records, which is also home to his CMG imprint. The project's cover art displays Gotti standing in front of a group of men wielding signs that state things like “I Am Memphis,” “I Am The Struggle,” “I Am The Streets,” and “I Am Real.” The cover art pays homage to the Memphis Sanitation workers who went on strike in 1968; many of the workers held signs that stated “I Am a Man” while they protested.
Another highlight on I Am is “Cold Blood,” which features a verse from thriving lyricist J. Cole and a heartfelt chorus from Canei Finch. Gotti and Cole both spit stories about underprivileged youth who fall victim to crime-filled lifestyles over a soulful track that samples The 24-Carat Black's "Poverty's Paradise.”
Other solid records include the Ne-Yo and Wale-assisted song, “Respect That You Earn,” which questions ladies who demand respect but carry themselves in an unclassy manner; the bass-ridden record “Die A Real Nigga”; and the Bay Area-influenced “Act Right,” which features Jeezy and Y.G.
Gotti’s transition from dominating the underground rap circuit to enjoying mainstream success with hits like “5 Star” and “Men Lie, Women Lie” convey that hard work pays off. And he continues to utilize the very same work ethic that's brought him to this point in his career on his latest project. Although Gotti doesn't sway too far from his usual topics on the album, he doesn't display any signs of decline creatively either. After more than 10 years in the game, Gotti still has the ability to provide listeners with quality music and this is evident with I Am.
Show information: On Thursday, November 28th, Yo Gotti will be performing at Minglewood Hall (1555 Madison). The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information, contact 901-312-6058 or visit minglewoodhall.com
Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the biggest holidays of the year.
Countless people anticipate the arrival of these holiday seasons every year, so they can travel out of town to enjoy the days with family and friends. And those arriving at the Memphis International Airport for either of the two holidays can look forward to enjoying a memorable experience.
The Memphis - Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) has partnered with the Memphis Music Foundation (MMF) to welcome visitors to the Bluff City with some live musical entertainment.
“The airport is the first impression many people get of our city, whether as a final destination or changing planes,” MMF President Dean Deyo said in a press release. “We join other music cities that showcase their musicians in their airport. We are excited that the Airport Authority sees the value in this program too. We have also worked with the airport to provide recorded Memphis music 24 hours a day in the new parking facility."
Live music performances will take place in Concourse B Rotunda, Concourse A (Southwest Airlines), and Concourse C (American Airlines, US Airways and United Airlines).
Here’s the performance schedule for the Thanksgiving holiday:
Friday, November 22
• Singa B (Soul) 11:30 am -1:00pm
• Faith Evans Ruch (Americana) 2:30-5:00pm
Tuesday, November 26
• Kate Bond Middle School Choir (Holiday music) 11:30 am -1:00pm
• Paul Taylor (roots rock) 2:30-5:00pm
Wednesday, November 27
• Cordova High School Chamber Singers (holiday music) 11:30 am -1:00pm
• Jason Freeman (rockabilly injected blues) 2:30-5:00pm
The performance schedule for the Christmas holiday hasn’t been announced yet.
According to a recent statewide study conducted by consumer advocacy website NerdWallet, Bartlett is the best place in Tennessee to seek employment.
NerdWallet analyzed communities across the state with a working-age population (ages 16 and older) greater than 20,000 for the study, which was titled "The Best Places in Tennessee for Job Seekers." The study was based on a city’s growth in the working-age population, median household income, monthly homeowner costs, and unemployment rates from 2009 to 2011.
The list of communities were narrowed down to the top 10 locations in Tennessee that attracted workers and exhibited a trend of upward population growth over the two-year period. The study revealed that there was a 13.9 percent increase in the working-age population in Bartlett. Furthermore, Bartlett households earned a median income of $75,988 from 2009 to 2011.
Another Shelby County town highlighted in the study was Collierville. The town was labeled the third best place to obtain employment in Tennessee. According to the study, Collierville saw a 9.1 percent increase in the working-age population, and households earned a median income of $102,298.
To check out "The Best Places in Tennessee for Job Seekers," click here.
The original members of Three 6 Mafia, excluding Juicy J, have reincarnated themselves as "Da Mafia 6ix" and released one of the best mixtapes I've heard this year thus far: 6ix Commandments.
The mixtape begins with the bass-filled, DJ Paul-produced “Go Hard,” which features Shady Records signee Yelawolf. It’s a perfect way to start the project off. Over the hard-hitting track, the group delivers solid verses in a style that's reminiscent to the way they did in the 90s.
But that appears to only be the beginning of a well put-together installment.
The track is followed by the dope boy-satisfying “Beacon N Blender” and the trunk rattling “Been Had Hard,” which is one of my favorite cuts on the mixtape.
The group also revisits their classic track "Break Da Law" on 6ix Commandments. The initial track was released nearly two decades ago, and since then there’s been several versions created but this is hands down one of the best I’ve heard. The transitions in the beat, samples, and turntable scratches are a perfect match for the group's dark, horrorcore-esque verses.
Another highlight on the mixtape is “Murder On My Mind.” The track features underground Florida sensation SpaceGhostPurrp, Hypnotize Minds affiliate JGrxxn, and legendary, tongue-twisters Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone. Similar to other tracks on the mixtape, it incorporates samples of sounds that were used on Triple 6 records during their heyday. But there's a refreshing feel to it that brings it up to speed, perfect for 2013.
The group reconnects with past Hypnotize Minds comrade Lil’ Wyte on the mixtape as well with the tracks “Betta Pray” and “Remember.” And Memphis rap legends 8 ball and M.J.G. make appearances on “Yean High.” Around the 3:40 mark of the song, it breaks down and transitions into a totally different beat that is doper than the original track it started with. It gives off that vintage, 90s feel that Hypnotize Minds is so popular for.
The project culminates with "Body Parts," a multi-featured, nine-minute long track similar to the HCP posse cuts that fans could look forward to on every album released by Hypnotize Minds. Juicy J, who's been pursuing his solo career through Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang imprint lately, unexpectedly starts the track off with a savage verse in a style that's relatively-similar to his Juice Man days. Past HCP members Kingpin Skinny Pimp and La Chat also appear on "Body Parts," along with Project Pat, Lil Wyte, Houston underground legend Point Blank, JGrxxn, and Kokane and Locodunit—who are both artists on DJ Paul's Scale-A-Ton label.
All in all, 6ix Commandments, to me, is more than a solid effort from the group that had everybody screaming "Tear Da Club Up!" and sippin' on sizzurp back in the day. It's a reminder of who is responsible for that crunk, dark, and 808-ridden sound that's been embraced by so many up-and-coming rap artists and producers these days. Gangsta Boo, Koopsta Knicca, Lord Infamous, Crunchy Black, and DJ Paul all contribute some of the best verses I've heard from them in recent years. And the mixtape's production, primarily provided by DJ Paul, is pretty much flawless in comparison to the bulk of mixtapes that have entered my eardrums lately.
The only thing that doesn't sit well with me is the promotion of satanism on the project. As a youngster, I was more impressionable and idolized the group, so the countless references of "666" and other satanic remarks were overlooked easily. Now an adult and more in-tune with my mind and spirit, it's hard for me to act oblivious to things like that. But what do you expect from members once a part of a Platinum-selling group known as Three 6 Mafia?
Aside from disliking some of the content on 6ix Commandments, I think the mixtape is jammin'. And although your opinion may differ from mine, I think one thing that all listeners can agree to is that this is a solid release from the bulk of one of rap music's most prolific, trendsetting, and prosperous groups. The mixtape is unquestionably worth checking out and serves as an awesome reestablishment for
Three 6 Mafia Da Mafia 6ix.
Check out the video for Da Mafia 6ix's "Go Hard" below.
On November 8th, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most devastating storms in history, claimed the lives of at least 2,000 people in the Philippines.
Nearly 2,000 bodies have been counted by officials thus far, but there are potentially thousands more who haven't been found due to the heavy debris scattered throughout the island. According to the Philippine government, more than two million people need food aid — nearly 300,000 of them are estimated to be pregnant women or new mothers.
Touched by the catastrophe, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will be raising money to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. On Wednesday, November 13th, UTHSC will have two on-campus fund drives. The first fund drive will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. in the lobby of the General Education Building (8 South Dunlap). The second one will occur from noon to 3 p.m. in the lobby of the 930 Madison Plaza Building.
All of the money raised will go to the American Red Cross for Typhoon Haiyan relief. All checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross with "Pacific Typhoon Relief" written in the subject line.
"These two fundraisers are being held in two different campus locations in Memphis to give our faculty, staff and students the opportunity to more easily donate to this important relief," said Ken Brown, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC. "Our institution held exactly the same type of relief efforts in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti and the flooding in Pakistan. People who are committed to health care have a strong desire to serve others, especially when the suffering is so great. It doesn't matter that the typhoon victims are a world away. We want to reach out to support them in whatever ways we can as quickly as we can."
Aside from UTHSC students, faculty, and staff, the institution encourages the community to participate in either of the two fund drives (or both) to contribute funds that will help countless lives affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
For additional information on how to participate or contribute, contact (901) 448-1164 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For nearly a century, November 11th has been recognized nationwide as the day to honor those who have served in the military to preserve our country's freedom.
However, for some, Veterans Day is also a solemn reminder that many of these same individuals who invested their time and sacrificed their lives for the United States are plagued with the hardship of being homeless, suffering from substance abuse, mental illnesses, unemployment, and other challenges.
Veterans make up only seven percent of the nation’s population but nearly 13 percent of the homeless adult population, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
In Memphis, 30 percent of all homeless people are veterans, according to Alpha Omega Veteran Services (AOVS). Since 1987, AOVS has provided resources, housing, and services to 8,000 veterans.
“We try to get every single one of [the city's homeless veterans] some form of housing, and we try to get them the tools they need to get back in society," said combat veteran and AOVS member Jerome Hardaway. "We help guys with [post-traumatic stress disorder] and physical disabilities."
AOVS provides readjustment counseling to veterans so they can socially re-integrate back into society. This involves helping veterans learn how to cope with negative events of their military history, overcome their battle with substance abuse, and obtain employment or housing.
The veterans that AOVS services range from those who participated in World War 2 to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hardaway said the only requirement to receive assistance from AOVS is to be a veteran that didn't have a dishonorable discharge.
"We cover the whole stake, from the 1940s to now. We don’t ignore anybody," Hardaway said. "We don’t turn anyone away, because they’re not a combat vet or from a particular era of war. Everybody gets help. The youngest veteran learning the tools to cope with PTSD is 23 years old, having served two tours in Afghanistan. The oldest veteran is 81, suffering mental and physical disabilities due to the Vietnam War."
Hardaway is an Afghanistan and Iraq veteran. He served six years as a Phoenix raven, which is a component of the U.S. Air Force Security Forces.
He said AOVS assists more than 120 veterans (75 to 90 of them are combat veterans) a year and boasts a 98 percent success rate. Hardaway said it’s disheartening to know that there are so many veterans suffering from homelessness, substance abuse, and other burdens in Memphis and across the country.
"You don’t come back home the same as you left just due to the fact that you’re dealing with the ideology from going from just a normal person to having taken lives," Hardaway said. "And then you’re trying to cope with that. It’s not as easy as it seems on a video game. You can't just press reset. It’s life-changing. And one of the things that pushes me is that it’s hard watching someone having to learn how to deal with that."
The organization’s primary headquarters is located at 1183 Madison Ave. For more information on AOVS, how to donate to the organization, or volunteer for it, visit www.aovs.org
This Saturday, Heal the Hood Foundation of Memphis is holding its second annual celebrity basketball game. The organization will use the event to highlight the city's youth gun violence issue and raise funds to help combat it.
The "Hoops For A Cause Celebrity Basketball Game" will take place November 9th in Ridgeway High School's gymnasium. It will feature the likes of rap artists Master P. and Romeo, teen actress and singer Cymphonique Miller, Atlantic Records R&B crooner and Disney star Trevor Jackson, former University of Memphis basketball players, and many more. It's scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
Prior to the basketball game, around 400 kids between the ages of eight and 16 years old will participate in the "Let the Kids Grow Basketball Camp." The camp will last from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Representatives from Memphis Gun Down and the Gang Reduction Assistance for Saving Society's Youth (G.R.A.S.S.Y) program will be in attendance to speak with youth about gang and gun violence, and encourage them to keep their life on the right track.
In a report released by 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news and commentary website, Memphis was named the fifth most dangerous city in America. The information was compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation data.
“The thing that keeps getting overlooked and doesn’t get the funding, is the violence in the city of Memphis,” said LaDell Beamon, founder of Heal the Hood. “With 'Hoops for a Cause,' we’re raising money to deal with the situations that constantly keep plaguing these young people. We look at that as a cancer in itself. It’s kind of like a social cancer, because that’s the reason why so many kids are killing each other, bringing guns to school, and it’s so much violence.”
Around 2:30 p.m., there will be a pre-show featuring R&B artist Iyse Gibson and rapper Lil Kaotik. This will be followed by the celebrity basketball. T-Magic the magician will also be on hand to entertain kids during the event. A half-time performance will be provided by Jackson.
Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $25 at the door. Anyone who brings three or more canned goods will receive a $2 discount on their admission. The canned goods will be donated to the Memphis Food Bank.
Beamon said Heal the Hood will utilize funds raised from the event to launch a community hub for youth, which will offer them a variety of resources and extracurricular activities to access. The hub will be located inside of Lanier Middle School and be open to youth ages 10 to 15 years old.
Beamon thinks by providing inner-city youth with more positive outlets, the presence of gun violence will be reduced.
“Kids from the Whitehaven Community, and surrounding schools, [will] actually [be able to] come inside the school on after-school hours and take up classes anywhere from comic book design to learning audio engineering, recording, dance, martial arts, the whole nine yards," Beamon said. "We’re recruiting for it now. The grand opening will be after Thanksgiving.”
Beamon said Heal the Hood aspires to open up a store inside of the community hub, which will sell reasonably-priced shoes and clothing. Older-aged teens will be provided employment at the store.
For more information on Heal the Hood or the "Hoops For A Cause" event, visit hthmemphis.org.
More than 130,000 adults in Memphis and Shelby County suffer from a mental illness, according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
The Memphis chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is working to change this statistic by providing resources and support to those suffering from psychiatric disorders. But the organization, with only one full-time employee, one part-time employee, and a handful of volunteers can only do so much.
In support of NAMI Memphis, nearly a dozen bands will jam out this Saturday at a free concert to raise funds for the organization. The event, "Memphians In Support of the Mentally Ill" (MISOMI), will take place November 9th at Newby’s (539 S Highland St). The event will last from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.
MISOMI's band lineup includes Clay Otis, Devil Train, Ghost Town Blues Band, Jack Oblivian, Mojo Possum, The Sheiks, and several others.
Local drummer, Graham Winchester, is the brainchild of MISOMI. He thought it was important to promote awareness about mental illness and show support from the local community.
“It seems like mental illness is a facet of human life that’s so misunderstood,” Winchester said. “I’ve known people who have struggled with all different types of mental illnesses, and a lot of people do misunderstand what they’re going through. I wanted to get a bunch of bands together and come up with the ultimate band lineup to try to steer some awareness and do something good for the community and specifically the mentally ill. I didn’t feel like enough was being done for the mentally ill in Memphis. You don’t see a lot of events or fundraisers for mentally ill support groups. [And] it’s heartwarming that so many great musicians said that they would do this for free.”
Admission for the event is $10, but any additional donations are appreciated. All funds raised will go to NAMI Memphis. Representatives of NAMI Memphis are also expected to be at the event passing out brochures, fliers, and educating people about mental illness.
“Just the fact that they’re trying to raise awareness surrounding mental health, I am so grateful for,” said NAMI Memphis’ Veronique Black.
According to NAMI, one in four adults will experience a mental health problem in any given year. And one in five young people ages 13 through 18 will also experience a mental illness. Furthermore, 16 percent of the country’s prison population suffer from severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder, according to NAMI.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders are other types of mental illnesses.
“Mental illness deserves the same respect that any other illness gets; the same amount of empathy,” Black said. “People didn’t ask for mental illness any more than they asked for cancer.”
Winchester is collaborating with Brister Street Productions for MISOMI. He plans to make MISOMI a semi-annual or annual event.
The Tennessee Department of Education recently released its first-ever “Bullying and Harassment Compliance Report.” The report centered on the 2012-13 school year.
According to the report, 7,555 cases of bullying were reported during the 2012-13 school year. Approximately 73 percent of those cases, or 5,478, were confirmed as bullying cases after investigation.
Memphis and Shelby County school districts (before the merger) accounted for more than 2,000 of the state’s reported cases, according to Dr. Randy McPherson of Shelby County Schools (SCS).
Manager of behavior and student leadership for SCS, McPherson said 2,247 of the state's reported incidents took place in the Bluff City. Memphis City Schools (MCS) reported 1,982 bullying incidents. However, SCS only reported 265 bullying incidents over the 2012-13 school year.
McPherson said the number of reported incidents only represent about 1.5 percent of the system’s combined student enrollment. He said the reported incidents were classified as either bullying, cyber-bullying, intimidation, or harassment.
“Support services are available for victims of harassment, bullying, intimidation, and cyber-bullying, as well as interventions and targeted counseling and discipline for alleged bullies," McPherson said. "There is a progressive tiered system of delivering counseling and referrals depending on severity of the offense and progress in addressing the problem.
“There is also a heavy emphasis on professional development for staff, prevention programming for students throughout the year, and systems development in schools to help recognize and react to any behavior issue, including bullying. Awareness and prevention is the main focus with quick, effective response systems in place to protect students.”
According to the "Shelby County Student Code of Conduct," harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying are viewed as acts that substantially interfere with a student's educational benefits, educational opportunities, or educational performance. Anything that causes emotional distress to a student, creates a hostile educational environment, physically harms a student or damages a student's property, or knowingly placing a student in reasonable fear of the aforementioned actions falls under the bullying category as well, If the acts takes place on school grounds.
Teenage author Katherine Arandez documents the rise and fall of notorious drug kingpin Craig Petties in her book "BMF Smuggler: The World is Ours."
The book, which is co-written by Tracy Lavell Matthews, focuses on how Petties transitioned from being a small-time dealer to a major figure in the country's drug trade.
Craig Petties, a native of South Memphis, spearheaded an organization that was both significantly prosperous and violent. He recently received nine life sentences to serve concurrently in federal prison stemming from various drug and murder charges.
Here's an excerpt from the book's press release:
"Not your typical gangster story, BMF Smuggler: The World is Ours goes into the mind of a murderer and tells the story of how the charismatic teenage Craig Petties was shaped into the man who would become one of America's most notorious criminals. This is a cautionary tale of the dangers of entourages and misguided ambition. Without being preachy or overly philosophical, author Katherine Arandez shows how Petties' petty crime snowballed into massive drug shipments, murder, and glory that ultimately ended in isolation and self-destruction."
To read more about Arandez (15 years old) and her book "BMF Smuggler: The World is Ours," check out the Memphis Flyer next Wednesday. You can purchase the book here.
The Memphis chapter of Sisters Network, a national organization composed of African-American breast cancer survivors, is hosting its third annual "1st Ladies Prayer Brunch" this Saturday.
The prayer brunch will take place at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn (3700 Central Ave.) Saturday, November 2nd. It will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Well-known pastor Rev. Percy McCray, director of Pastoral Care for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), will be the keynote speaker at the brunch. McCray will share an inspirational message on the importance of patients and their families utilizing faith and spirituality when battling something as challenging as breast cancer.
The event will also feature a networking session, panel discussion, and an opportunity for attendees to participate in a question and answer session with medical experts. The overall objective of the prayer brunch is to encourage women to take their health more seriously and also embrace their relationship with God to help fight obstacles such as breast cancer.
In the U.S., more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In 2013, more than 27,000 African-American women are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer and over 6,000 of these women will succumb to it.
Although white women are diagnosed with breast cancer twice as much as African-American women, black women are 41 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, according to ACS. This is largely attributed to them being more susceptible to "triple negative breast cancer" (breast cancer not caused by the three usual receptors known to fuel most breast cancers: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2). Black women are also statistically more likely to lack insurance coverage and less likely to undergo normal visits to the doctor for health screenings.
For more information on the prayer brunch, contact Sisters Network Memphis president Carolyn Whitney at (901) 789-7239 or visit sistersnetworkmemphis.org