Last Thursday night, the dance floor at the Gibson Music Showcase became a holding pen for the best and brightest stars of Southern rap: Mac E, Yung D, Miscellaneous, Nitty Gritty, and Jackson, Mississippi's Kamikaze (with David Banner, a founding member of Crooked Lettaz) huddled around, waiting for the DJ to get the sound system popping while industry folks such as artist rep Nam Moses, producer Joe Da CEO, Divalicious TV host Choosey, and PR specialist Alesia Fair hovered nearby. Upstairs, Memphis rap veteran Terry "Freak Master" Turner (of "Gimme What You Got [For A Pork Chop]" fame) watched with a critical eye, scouting talent for his Internet radio show,www.UGRadio.com, while an amused Darnell "Crunchy Black" Carlton held court from a booth near the stage.
It was all part of the Creative Edge Artist Showcase -- a fashion show and rap concert put together by local hip-hop publicist Theodore Palmer -- which drew a capacity crowd at the Gibson.
Crunchy Black, the biggest star of the night, was more than happy to talk about his recent split from Three 6 Mafia and his future in the music biz.
"I've got a new mix tape, Crunchtime, out this week, and I'm starting a label called The Real Hardhitters with my little clique," explained the dapperly dressed Crunchy Black, who was sporting a diamond-and-gold encrusted watch that perfectly matched his upper and lower grills. His "clique" includes up-and-comers Pharoh, Boogeyman, and Explosive; producer Swizzo provides most of the beats.
"Paul and Juicy are cool as a fool," Crunchy Black said of his former Three 6 Mafia mates, "but while they wanted to keep me fed, they didn't want to keep my family fed. What happened was a money situation."
Gesturing toward the watch, a gift from DJ Paul and Juicy J after the group's Oscar win for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," he added, "I still love and appreciate them. They taught me so much. Now I'm just doing my own thing. I just want to keep going forward." Crunchy Black said that he's currently in joint-venture discussions with industry giants Sony, Universal, and Def Jam.
Eighty-two year old Fat Possum bluesman T-Model Ford has a new bandmate 52 years his younger: Steve "Lightnin'" Malcolm. "We've known each other for 10 or 15 years, and we've been playing together for the last 12 months or so," says Malcolm of his relationship with the garrulous guitar player, famous for his ability to play without interruption for hours on end.
This Friday, November 10th, the duo will roll into the Buccaneer for their second appearance in a month. "We try to play Memphis whenever we're passing through," says Malcolm, who, when he's not on the road, plays guitar with Cedric Burnside every Saturday night at the Marshall County Disco, located just west of Holly Springs, Mississippi. "We start at about 8 p.m., and we play hard-rocking hill-country blues for hours. A lot of the Burnsides drop in." For more information, go to www.LightninMalcolm.com.
Meanwhile, blues fans, take note: The Hi-Tone Café will be transformed into a chitlin'-circuit juke joint this Tuesday, November 14th, when soul star Bobby Rush takes the stage. Also on the bill: Burnside, singer-songwriter Cary Hudson, and Kenny Brown.
While recent releases on Fat Possum have switched genres from hill-country blues to indie rock, last month the label released eight volumes of rare vinyl from the vaults of Georgia-based folklorist George Mitchell. Pick up 45s by the likes of esoteric bluesmen John Lee Ziegler, Cecil Barfield, and Lonzie Thomas at local stores such as Goner Records and Shangri-La or via the label's Web site, FatPossum.com.
As if fronting Angry Angles and playing drums with Final Solutions isn't enough, Jay Lindsey is now pounding the skins for Chopper Girl's Memphis Babylon and playing bass with Midtown group The Oscars. "Jay has always been in the band, doing different stuff with us," explains Oscars guitarist/vocalist Chuck Vicious. "Since Scott [Patterson, the band's regular bassist] has been in Brazil, he's been filling in."
While, in recent months, Oscars shows have been few and far between (Vicious claims that they've been woodshedding, "secretly writing all this new material"), they are slated to perform a free show with Evil Wizard Eyes and The Boston Chinks at the Buccaneer this Thursday, November 9th. For more info, go to MySpace.com/OscarsIndustries or visit Vicious' Web site, DataDrums.com.