Inadequate access to clean drinking water is a dilemma that impacts more than 780 million people globally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And Sub-Saharan Africa is among the areas most affected by water scarcity; 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to clean water, according to the United Nations-Water.
Sahel Revival is a local nonprofit determined to make clean water more accessible in poor Sub-Saharan Africa communities. And they're using Reggae music to help achieve this goal.
This Saturday, the first annual "Live Up Fest" will take place at the Hi-Tone (422-444 N. Cleveland) to help raise awareness and support for Sahel Revival's battle against water scarcity. The event will feature a variety of Reggae artists including Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, Roots of a Rebellion, The LTG, Kween Jasira, Juju Bushman, and more. It will start at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. A portion of the funds raised will go toward constructing a water well in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"I want people to have fun and become aware [of the water crisis]," said Abdoul Ba, founder of Sahel Revival. "In case [attendees] would like to support us, they can go to our website, SahelRevival.org. They can get involved by volunteering, helping us spread the word, or donating. Usually, a gift offered of $20 can give one person water for a long time. If you look at it holistically and globally, a water well can benefit 300 people. Twenty dollars is not much, but it can have a big impact on life in Sub-Saharan Africa."
Ba hails from the Sub-Saharan African country Mauritania, an area largely covered by the Sahara desert. Only around 50 percent of its population has access to clean water and another 30 percent suffers from unemployment, according to Christian humanitarian organization, World Vision.
Ba hopes Sahel Revival can help bring social change and better living conditions to those affected by inadequate access to free clean water in his native country and Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.
“In my city and country everybody is affected by water shortages,” Ba said. “My city suffers from yearly cholera outbreaks that leave many people dead, especially children. It’s impossible to be in my city and country without seeing [and] feeling the water shortage. [There’s also] food shortages. Where there's no water, there will be no food, so malnutrition is also a very present problem.”
Sahel Revival in presenting the event in conjunction with Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and Brister Street Productions.
Decades before Steven “Soulman” Snipes entered the world, legendary label Stax Records was born in Memphis and became responsible for introducing some of soul music’s most impactful artists. Years later, many of those same artists are who Snipes, an up-and-coming rapper, uses as inspiration and incorporates samples of into his music.
Snipes labels the unique fusion "hip-hop soul," a subgenre of hip-hop. And anyone unfamiliar with the sound can check out his latest installment, The Classic Soul Project, to get more in tune. On the six-song EP, he incorporates profanity-free lyrics mixed with vintage soul samples over hard-hitting production provided by Memphis beatsmith Kingpin da’ Composa
Rather than showcase extreme lyricism, Snipes was more determined to fill the project with meaningful songs that conveyed a sense of motivation and encouragement.
“I wanted you to be able to feel good after you listened to every song on this album," said the 28-year-old artist. "If you pop this CD in on your way to work, even if you hate your job, on the way there, at least you can get some piece of mind before you go in. And once you leave out, on your way home, you can pop this in and say, ‘This is some motivation. I can go another day.’ It’ll change your way of thinking if you listen to it long enough.”
The Classic Soul Project wasn’t inspired simply by soul legends or Snipes' will to inspire others. There's another piece to the puzzle: popular nightclub Classic Soulz. Located on Brooks Road in the Whitehaven community (also the area where Snipes grew up), the venue is popular for playing a wide array of music and attracting a variety of people.
“If you know anything about Classic Soulz, you know it’s a very diverse club,” Snipes said. “You can go from Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass in the beginning of the night, and by the end of the night they’re playing Young Dolph and Yo Gotti. I love the feeling and the environment of the club. It’s great memories.”
Classic Soulz holds a special spot in Snipes’ heart. He’s enjoyed countless nights of partying there, holds a friendship with the owner, Larry Williams, and worked as a security guard for the venue in the past. With the EP, he wanted to show his appreciation for the club with hope of attracting new business to Classic Soulz.
The Classic Soul Project will be released exclusively during the third annual “Lyfe Is Dope” event, an outlet for Mid-South artists, musicians, dancers, DJs, and supporters, to congregate and enjoy good music from up-and-coming talent. Participants will be exposed to various independent and major record labels and local radio stations. It will take place Friday, March 28th, from 7 to 11 p.m. at 409 S. Main St.
“Lyfe Is Dope is a very unique opportunity, and it has potential, I believe, to revolutionize the culture at-large,” Snipes said. “How South by Southwest is in Austin, I believe Lyfe Is Dope could be the springboard for a similar type of situation coming out of Memphis.”
Before Snipes tried his hand at music, he was just another kid coming up in Memphis. He's the son of a soft-spoken, candid, Christian mother and wise, alcoholic father, who’s also a former Green Beret. The couple divorced when he was a toddler and didn’t resume communication until several years later. Growing up, he spent time between Whitehaven and South Memphis.
As a kid, he was immersed in soul music rather than hip-hop, and took a strong liking to the genre. He cites some of his favorites as Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Isley Brothers, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Barry White.
His love for the soul music, which meshes elements of R&B, gospel, and jazz, is heavily present in his projects.
“[There is] absolutely no way to get the same feeling that you get from soul music anywhere else. It’s not possible,” Snipes said. “The whole reason I wanted do music is because it made me feel something. There was literally a physical reaction when I heard it. [There is] something about music that can affect your state of mind, that can affect your mood, and soul music does that for me.”
Aside from rap, Snipes is a husband and father to a 4-year-old son. He attended Austin Peay State University for a brief stint before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force where he stayed for six years. He and his family currently resides in Nashville, but still consider Memphis home.
He's released two albums thus far on his label Overwater Entertainment and has traveled throughout the region. His latest project may potentially catapult his career to new heights, due to its originality and marketability. But if nothing else, he’s thankful that people can get an earful of his life and have the opportunity to take something from it.
“Music has given me more than I could ever dream,” Snipes said. “[There have] been times where I literally was depressed, no money in my pocket, didn’t know how I was gonna get none. And I listened to a song that gave me a spark of motivation to say, ‘Okay, I’m [going to] try one more thing,’ and that thing ended up working for me. The only way I’ve been able to pay my bills is because of my music. And it’s not just regular music. Because it does have feeling, because it does have substance, I believe that’s why people are beginning to pay attention and say, ‘Hey, that brother might be talking about something. Let’s give him a shot.’ That’s why I incorporate soul music into what I do."
On August 20th, 2013, Memphian Gloria Deloach succumbed to her battle with cancer, which started in her breast and traveled to her lungs and bones. It happened three days after her 59th birthday.
Gloria’s youngest daughter, Margaret, felt a sense of confusion and hopelessness after her mom's passing. She was the main person Margaret could rely on for compassion, constructive criticism, and advice.
Nearly a year after losing her mom, Margaret has launched the campaign, “We Are Warriors; We Made It,” in her honor as well as others who’ve battled with or are currently fighting cancer. And as part of the campaign, she’s released some special T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Warrior: We Made It” across the front.
“I didn’t want to be an artist putting out a shirt to make money. I wanted to have a bigger cause behind it,” she said. “I want to use everything I can to give back or to show other families that you can make it through whatever fight that you’re going through.”
The slogan is derived from the song "Warrior" that Margaret, also known by her Christian hip-hop moniker “Butta MD,” created during her mom’s battle with cancer. It's the last song Gloria witnessed Margaret perform before she passed.
The “Warrior” t-shirts are available in either white with purple lettering or black with red lettering. Margaret said a portion of the proceeds raised will be donated to The Cancer Foundation. The shirts can be purchased here.
Margaret's campaign ends Wednesday, March 26th, but she’s also releasing her EP Da NU Norm; We Made It, which will be composed of songs that got her through the unimaginable hardship of witnessing her mom fight and succumb to cancer.
“These are songs I was writing, sitting while my mom was getting treatment,” she said. “These are songs I was writing waking up in the middle of the morning, 1 or 2 a.m., hearing my mom. These are the times I would just write. I really couldn’t talk to people, because they didn’t really understand.”
Each year globally, about 14 million people learn they have cancer and eight million people die from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2007, while Margaret was a sophomore at the University of Memphis, her mom began her battle with cancer. Over the years subsequent to her diagnosis, she experienced hair loss and her health began to slowly diminish. Fueled by the desire to care for her mother, Margaret’s motivation to attend school lessened.
“I really wanted to drop out of college, but my mom pushed me to finish,” she reminisced. “I ended up graduating with honors. I had a 4.0 and I owed it all to her. She was there at my graduation.”
The Jones Clinic, the only independent oncology clinic in the region, was an establishment Gloria received assistance from. She attended its monthly cancer support groups. And Margaret traveled along with her faithfully.
Betty Dozier, a nurse at the Clinic, worked closely with Gloria and still remembers her last days there.
“She would come to the treatment room and ask other patients how they were doing,” Dozier said. “The word warrior really describes her, because she fought to the very end.”
With both the campaign and EP, Margaret said she hopes to encourage other families who have or are going through the same thing that she and her family did.
“I just want them to get hope, be encouraged, be inspired,” she said. "As an artist, as a person, being graced and blessed with a voice, I just want to continue to give that hope to people through music, songs, and writing. I believe that’s why I’m here for. I just want to continue to keep going for my mom and for those coming after me."
Da NU Norm;We Made It is slated to drop digitally in mid-May, but there will be a release party in June. To stay updated on the EP's release, visit ButtaMD.com
Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers Executive Director Richard Masten made national headlines for eating a wad of paper containing information from an anonymous tipster during court last week.
On Friday, March 14th, Masten was ordered by Miami Judge Victoria Brennan to provide information that the local division of Crime Stoppers received regarding a cocaine possession case to a defense attorney. The attorney didn’t want to know the tipster’s identity but simply the information the person provided in relation to the case, according to CBS Miami.
Masten, however, refused to turn the paper over and instead chewed it up. He was held in contempt of court, arrested, and fined for the action. He initially faced a maximum penalty of two years in jail for the offense but received a lighter sentence yesterday (March 20th) of probation. He has also been ordered to write a report on anonymous tip laws.
Masten said he did the act to limit the chances of the tipster's identity being publicized. He also sought to protect the integrity of Crime Stoppers, an organization that has divisions across the globe, and guarantees tipsters anonymity when they provide information.
The abnormal occurrence made it on the radar of Buddy Chapman, the executive director for Crime Stoppers of Memphis and Shelby County. Chapman said he doesn’t think Masten’s actions were irrational.
“I think he was trying to make a point,” Chapman said. “I’m assuming that he didn’t have anything on that paper that would have identified the caller. I say that that information on the case. I think it’s ridiculous that we’re asked to provide it. I think it’s a fishing expedition on the part of the defense attorneys. I don’t have any real big heartburn about providing the time and date the call came in, nor I do I think that’s anything that I’d have to eat, but I do think he was probably making a point, and I do applaud him for that.”
Chapman said members of the local Crime Stoppers staff are frequently subpoenaed to court but are only able to divulge the time and date they received a tip and what the tip provider said.
“I understand that defense attorneys have got to mount the best defense for their crime, but if you really think about it, a tip is not proof of anything,” Chapman said. “It’s simply information passed on, which then has to be investigated and verified to be of any use for anything. It really gives police a starting point in most cases.”
Check out my cover story on the local Crime Stoppers division here.
It's been 50 years since iconic musical collective The Bar-Kays debuted as the house band for Stax Records. And in celebration of their 50th anniversary, the group is giving back to the community.
A large group of family, friends, and supporters gathered inside a room in the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (926 E McLemore) on Thursday, March 13th, as the group revealed the launch of their "Fab Five Charities" fund. The initiative will benefit five entities: the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis, United Way of the Mid-South, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Stax Music Academy, and the Allen Jones/Marjorie Barringer/Bar-Kays Scholarship Fund.
“We’ve done a lot of things in our career, but this is probably the most important thing that we’ve ever done," said James Alexander, co-founder and bass guitarist for the Bar-Kays. "A portion of the proceeds of everything that we’re going to be doing will go back to the Fab Five, and that’s really important to us. It’s a blessing for us to be able to live long enough to be able to give back like this. This is so rewarding to us."
The Bar-Kays announced their upcoming show at at Minglewood Hall on April 4th and 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala in December. The gala will take place at both the Cook Convention Center and Canon Center of the Performing Arts. Fab Five recipients will be awarded funding during the event.
The Bar-Kays also debuted their latest single "Up and Down" during the press conference. Their next album is slated to be released this fall.
“We have miles to climb. We’re not through," said Larry Dodson, lead singer of The Bar-Kays. "We’re in phase two. Don’t let 50 be a big word for you all. God has given us some strength, and we have a lot of logs to throw in this fire. We’re smarter, we’re wiser, and we’re closer to the Lord than we’ve ever been. Just watch what we’re going to be doing.”
Chris Travis embraces a new wave of production, incorporates auto-tune, and harmonizes on his latest mixtape, Gotham City. But he still embodies the same style and delivery that puts you in the mind of underground Memphis rap artists from the early '90s with an up-to-date, eccentric twist.
The mixtape's title is influenced by the home of fictional superhero Batman, a gloomy area plagued with crime, corruption, dilapidation, and a deep sense of hopelessness. Chris Travis uses the imaginary location as a metaphor for his native city.
"I ain't really do it on no Batman, shit. I mean, I love Batman, but it's really about Memphis," the Water Boyz Entertainment representative said. "Gotham City was a depressant city. I feel like Memphis is a depressant city. It's just about where I came up at."
Chris Travis has the gift to select solid production for his projects and this doesn't change on Gotham City. For the most part, the project boasts somber sounds filled with lots of bass, slowed-tempos, and eerie chords. And Chris Travis utilizes the same smooth, candid style as on his previous efforts.
This is the third project from Chris Travis since December, but he has more in-store.
"[Gotham City] is the jump off tape for the spring," he said. "I'm going to release some more hard shit before the summer comes up."
Stream and download Gotham City below. And peep an in-depth interview/visual I did with Chris Travis here.
Some of the mixtape's standout tracks are "Night Ryder," "Pure Life," "Let Me In Your World," and "Hotel Room Service."
The Iron Mic Coalition is to Memphis what Goodie Mob is to Atlanta or Wu-Tang Clan is to New York. The collective, comprised of nearly 10 members, has been doing their thing within the city's underground hip-hop circuit for more than a decade.
Often referred to as IMC, they're known for popularizing the term "Memphop," which is a local version of the beloved genre. But for those who need a more in-depth description of what it embodies, IMC group members The Mighty Quinn, Milk, and Duke provide a lyrical lesson on the track "Memphop."
The song, which is produced by MaxPtah, comes from IMC's long-awaited album, The 2nd Edition: Memp-Hop.
Check out the visual to "Memphop" below.
Memphis rap forerunner Yo Gotti was recently featured as a guest on journalist Peter Bailey's "NiteCap" series.
During the interview with Bailey, Gotti opened up about what inspired him to pursue the street life and how it's impacted his career as a rapper. He also shared his thoughts on artists who falsely claim to live crime-filled lifestyles to expand their fan base, how his career has enabled him to provide employment to friends, being family-oriented, and more.
Check out the interview below.
When local emcee Knowledge Nick released his debut album, The Enlightenment, in 2009 he sought to help restore the essence of hip-hop. Five years since the 10-track effort dropped, Nick has decided to re-release the album, which played a significant role in bringing more attention to what the city's underground hip-hop scene has to offer.
"I think that it’s an extreme blessing that people still remember this album, considering we live in a time frame now where after six months, you’re pretty much done or people don’t remember," Nick said. "I think people hear the authenticity in [the album]. They hear the sincerity in it. The genuineness in it."
Nick re-released The Enlightenment on Artists Tree Entertainment, a distribution label ran by rapper/producer MaxPtah. A digital copy of the album can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Nick is also prepping the release of his latest EP, The New Memphis, this June. Over the course of seven songs, Nick seeks to change people’s perception of Memphis with the project. He said the EP would boast a "progressive sound" that he assures won't disappoint listeners.
"The EP looks at Memphis in a lighter way as opposed to, ‘South Memphis! North Memphis! The home of the First 48,’" Nick said. "It’s another sound of Memphis that people need to be exposed to. It’s a balance out here.'"
The New Memphis will feature appearances from the Iron Mic Coalition's Mighty Quinn, C'Beyohn, and Bartholomew Jones. MaxPtah, Paragon, Genesis 7, and EMPEE are among the cats providing production to the project. There will be an official release party for the EP at Newby's on June 14th. The EP's scheduled release date is June 17th.