It's Friday afternoon, and rapper Tom Skeemask says that he's "just chillin', back in the Mound." The California-born, Memphis-bred artist is busy updating his Web page and corresponding with artists like Mr. Sche and Esinco on a new solo album and a mix-tape project.
You can listen to -- or download -- Skeemask's new tracks, including "Memphis Shit," "Jump Like U Want Sum," and "Who U Runnin' Wit" via his MySpace site, MySpace.com/TomSkeemask.
"Everybody has stolen our sound, but this is where it originated, and it can't be duplicated," he says today. "I'm not gonna sugarcoat it, man. Memphis has been overlooked for years. All we can do is keep our heads up and keep moving."
In a city where respect is the name of the game, Skeemask sees himself as the Rodney Dangerfield of the local scene. "I'm one of the hardest-working cats in the business, and I don't get recognized," he laments. "I've got one of the hardest voices in the game, and I can't get a deal."
Nevertheless, Skeemask has longevity in a scene where would-be rappers come and go on a daily basis. He's released dozens of mix tapes and five full-length albums, collaborating with heavy hitters such as Al Kapone, DJ Squeeky, Khujo Goodie, and Project Playaz, as well as rising stars in the local game such as Criminal Manne, Chopper Girl, and DJ Zirk.
"I know everybody, and I work with everybody," Skeemask says. "Ask anybody. If you call me and want me to do a song with you, I'll do it. I've got love for the music, regardless if they've got a name or not. The song could be wack as hell, and I'd probably still do it."
If only Yo Gotti were as humble.
The "Gangsta Party" rapper, whose Back 2 Da Basics album is finally slated to drop next Tuesday, reportedly popped WMPW Power 99 DJ Freddy Hydro in the head last Friday during an altercation at Midtown recording studio Young Avenue Sound.
According to an eyewitness, Yo Gotti hit Hydro (who had earlier insulted the rapper on the air), followed by Gotti's entourage attacking the radio personality.
Neither Yo Gotti nor Freddy Hydro were available for comment, although "Gangsta Party" and Gotti's "Full Time" remained in rotation throughout the weekend.
At press time, Yo Gotti is still scheduled for an in-store appearance at Cat's Music on Austin Peay Highway Tuesday, May 23rd, from 4 to 6 p.m. Hopefully, he'll stick to signing autographs.
The 5th annual Ponderosa Stomp, held at the Gibson Guitar Factory last week, was a major success. The event, moved to Memphis from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, lured hundreds of rockabilly, soul, and roots-music fans downtown for three marathon concerts that ran from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m.
More than 50 performers, including Houston wildman Roy Head, New Orleans fave Clarence "Frogman" Henry, and rockabilly star Sleepy LaBeef dazzled an appreciative audience that included such luminaries as musicians Taj Mahal, Steve Cropper, and Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, wrestler Jerry Lawler, and author Peter Guralnick.
Next year, the Ponderosa Stomp will be back in New Orleans, but, says festival organizer Ira "Dr. Ike" Padnos, Memphis might host another event this fall. For more information, go to PonderosaStomp.com.
This Thursday night, Drew Holcomb is returning to the Hi-Tone Café with a full band and a fantastic opening act, Nashville songwriter David Mead.
With the help of Ardent Studios engineer Curry Weber, the Washed in Blue artist will be recording his performance for an as-yet-untitled live album, which he plans to release this fall.
Show your support for this homegrown star by showing up at the Hi-Tone and screaming, swooning, or stomping your feet between numbers. A few months from now, you'll be able to listen to the set and proudly say, "Yep, that's me requesting 'Eastbound Wind.'"
Showtime is 9 p.m. sharp. Learn more by going to DrewHolcomb.com.
Perry Welch's Old Millington Winery will provide the perfect setting for a performance by the Last Chance Jug Band (led by University of Memphis musicologist Dr. David Evans), this Sunday afternoon. The concert is part of the winery's annual free music series, which will include appearances by Chip Graves, bluegrass group Critical Pass, and blues guitarist Corey Osborne. For details, go to OldMillingtonWinery.com.
We know we can be a bit harsh at times, poking fun at public officials and bible-beating daily newspaper columnists. But in the long run, were still all in this together. So we have to ask: whats up with Russell Shaw, a Huffington Post blogger who blasts the decision for Graceland to be named a National Historic Landmark?
Why this house? Sure, Elvis lived there, but by all accounts if those walls could talk, they would speak of hell-raising, wild parties, debauchery, adultery, wild women, guns, pill-poppin' and who knows what else. And it was a pill-poppin' Elvis who died in that very Graceland of a presumed overdose- the ultimate nightcap for his overpartying ways. He died in 1977, a victim of his own excesses.
Back off, Russ. Graceland may have been a place of unholy sin, but its our sin palace, so leave it and us alone.