Young Dolph inspires independent artists in Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tennessee – “Everyone in Memphis has music in their blood. You can’t escape music in Memphis,” Lukah said.

The independent rap artist started music young, influenced by his family. His mother, grandmother and grandfather were all musicians, his father a DJ. Lukah took after his rapper uncle, Fathom Nine.

“He’s actually a hip hop, a legend from Memphis, that is part of this band called Iron Mic Coalition and he was part of a band called Genesis Experiment that did a lot of underground stuff. And he got me strongly. influenced, ”Lukah said.

The South Memphis rapper, outside of Dogg Deep Enterprize, saw his music widely recognized in 2021. He was mentioned in the New York Times, NPR and Pitchfork since June. The year was marked by growth.

“I’m growing constantly. I mean I just see growth as a continuous thing. People overseas hear about me, all over the country they hear about me,” Lukah said.

Inside the 4U recording studio on Union Avenue works independent producer Kingpin Da Composer. Kingpin is part of a team of producers by the name of Steaksawse, but his personal baby is the beat battle league he started in 2017, Let’s Get Loud.

“I feel like Memphis didn’t really have a home for producers, especially rap producers, so to speak,” Kingpin said. “So I just saw a void. And for years, I just waited to see what someone else was going to do and creatively, but I’m like, ‘I’m sick of it. wait. “”

Beat battles typically include eight producers competing against each other in a battle rap style competition, but Kingpin said wins and losses are not the goal.

“It’s never about winners or losers, it’s just about us coming together and sharpening our swords,” Kingpin said.

The two artists have worked independently for several years, as has the young Dolph of Memphis who was shot and killed in November. The two said the music scene is not the same.

“At first I thought someone was joking, but I saw other reports confirming me and I was like, ‘are you serious?’,” Kingpin said.

“It was like a change in the city had happened that day. I mean it was dark that day. And the next day actually still dark if you ask my opinion,” said Lukah.

The pair still mourn the loss of Young Dolph like many across town, but recognize that there are lessons to be learned from the careers of the Memphis icons.

Young Dolph ran his independent label Paper Route Empire, taking other artists under his wing. The rappers grit and grind embodied the city where he was from.

“Dolph had this fuss about him, like all Memphis artists,” Lukah said. “I just have to use this hustle and bustle, this grind, this Memphis grain that we have to make succeed because we’re looked down upon all the time.”

“It was just phenomenal like seeing his work ethic and seeing his job to do, that one idea, and not only nurture himself but also nurture others around him where the people around him have careers. successful is the ultimate goal as a creative like, it’s good for you to eat. When you have a team of people who eat like you – mission accomplished, “Kingpin said.

Like Young Dolph, the couple also give back to their community. Lukah taught and volunteered as a basketball coach. Kingpin is a member of the Memphis Music Initiative, which teaches children how to produce their own music.

They also recognize that in order to achieve their goals, they must continue to work hard. Although resources and support are sometimes scarce, trust in yourself cannot. And when they get up, so do those around them.

“To do what Young Dolph did. To have a team around us where we can all eat together. That’s the ultimate goal for me and it’s Steaksawse’s ultimate goal to get us all together.” Kingpin said.


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