Aight, here we go. Listen up, fam. When you talk about the heart and soul of Southern hip-hop, you can’t ignore Memphis.
This city, steeped in blues and soul, flipped the script, took the mic, and spewed forth some of the hardest, realest rhymes the game has ever known.
Memphis isn’t about the glitz and glamour; nah, it’s about that raw, gritty sound that slaps you in the face and makes you feel the heartache, struggle, and triumph.
These are the cats who didn’t just put Memphis on the map; they exploded onto the scene and changed the face of hip-hop forever.
Let’s pay homage to the top 10 Memphis rappers who molded the city’s sound and impacted the rap game like no others!
10. Moneybagg Yo
Demario White Jr., better known by his stage name Moneybagg Yo, is a recent sensation whose rise to fame has been meteoric.
Born in 1991, he represents the new wave of Memphis hip-hop.
Bursting onto the scene with his mixtapes such as “Federal” and “2 Federal” with Yo Gotti, Moneybagg Yo quickly made a name for himself with his hard-hitting lyrics and uncompromising Memphis sound.
His album “Time Served”, released in 2020, debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200, proving that his brand of street realism and southern swagger had truly hit the mainstream.
His tales of street life are both captivating and revealing, providing a window into the Memphis that shaped him.
9. Don Trip
Christopher Don Wallace, known professionally as Don Trip, emerged from Memphis as a compelling, lyrically adept artist with a flair for narrative.
His 2011 mixtape “The Life” demonstrated his skill for crafting compelling, introspective tracks.
His breakthrough came with the song “Letter to My Son”, a heartfelt, emotional narrative about his struggles with parental rights.
Don Trip’s versatility allows him to deliver both aggressive street anthems and introspective tunes about life and hardship.
His “Step Brothers” series with fellow rapper Starlito received critical acclaim, further cementing his status as a force in the Memphis scene.
8. Gangsta Pat
One of the originators of Memphis’s hip-hop scene, Patrick Hall, aka Gangsta Pat, is a bona fide legend.
He broke onto the scene as a teenager in the late 1980s and is often credited as one of the pioneers who put Memphis on the hip-hop map.
His 1991 album, “#1 Suspect”, was his breakthrough, featuring the track “I’m tha Gangsta,” a classic of early Memphis rap.
Gangsta Pat’s sound evolved with the times, incorporating elements of G-funk and gangsta rap into his style, but he always stayed true to his Memphis roots.
His impact on the city’s scene can’t be understated.
7. DJ Paul
As one half of the founding members of the influential Memphis group Three 6 Mafia, DJ Paul (Paul Duane Beauregard) has left an indelible mark on the city’s music scene.
Known for his crunk sound that fused southern hip-hop with horror elements, DJ Paul was instrumental in defining the Memphis sound.
With a career that spans over three decades, DJ Paul’s contribution goes beyond his music, as he has mentored and produced a number of artists from Memphis.
His legacy is solidified not only by his impressive discography, but also by his influence on the next generation of Memphis hip-hop.
6. Yo Gotti
Yo Gotti (Mario Sentell Giden Mims) is a Memphis heavyweight whose career has been marked by a strong work ethic and an uncompromising street-oriented sound.
He started his journey in the late ’90s but truly broke into the mainstream with his 2013 album “I Am”.
Yo Gotti’s sound is defined by his trap beats and gritty lyrics, often drawing on his experiences growing up in the Ridge Crest housing projects.
Known for hits like “Rake It Up” and “Down in the DM,” Yo Gotti’s impact extends beyond his music, as he’s also a record executive, mentoring younger Memphis artists like Moneybagg Yo.
5. Juicy J
Jordan Michael Houston, better known by his stage name Juicy J, is a hip-hop giant hailing from Memphis.
His career took off as a member of Three 6 Mafia, an influential group whose horrorcore style would go on to inspire countless others.
Juicy J’s outlandish personality and catchy hooks have made him a memorable presence in the rap world.
He isn’t just a rapper, though. His work as a producer has significantly impacted the industry, shaping the sound of southern rap in the 2000s.
In 2021, his solo career got a significant boost with hits like “Bandz a Make Her Dance”, proving his longevity and adaptability in the ever-changing music industry.
4. 8Ball & MJG
Considered southern rap pioneers, 8Ball & MJG (Premro Smith and Marlon Jermaine Goodwin) significantly contributed to the establishment of the Memphis hip-hop scene.
Their style blends storytelling with gritty reality, painting a vivid picture of life in Orange Mound, Memphis.
The duo’s 1993 debut album, “Comin’ Out Hard”, was among the first southern rap albums to achieve widespread success and still stands as a classic.
Their suave delivery and soulful beats have solidified their standing in the annals of southern hip-hop. With their longevity and consistent output, they’ve truly become Memphis legends.
3. Project Pat
A staple in the Memphis hip-hop scene, Project Pat (Patrick Earl Houston) has a distinctive, laid-back flow and charismatic storytelling ability.
As the older brother of Juicy J, he was a regular collaborator with Three 6 Mafia. His 2001 album “Mista Don’t Play: Everythangs Workin” is considered a Memphis classic, with tracks like “Chickenhead” still being played today.
Project Pat’s authenticity and unique approach to storytelling set him apart in the Memphis scene.
His legacy is intertwined with the history of Memphis hip-hop, and he remains an influential figure in the city’s music culture.
2. Isaiah Rashad
One of the more recent acts on this list, Isaiah Rashad McClain, known professionally as Isaiah Rashad, has made significant waves in the hip-hop scene since his debut.
As a member of Top Dawg Entertainment, he’s part of a roster that includes Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q.
His 2016 album “The Sun’s Tirade” received widespread critical acclaim, with his introspective lyrics and soulful production resonating with listeners.
Isaiah Rashad’s blend of southern rap elements with introspective lyrics marks him as one of the most exciting voices to come out of Memphis in recent years.
1. Three 6 Mafia
It’s hard to talk about Memphis hip-hop without mentioning Three 6 Mafia.
Formed by DJ Paul, Juicy J, and Lord Infamous, the group was a major force in the ’90s and 2000s, pioneering the crunk and horrorcore subgenres.
Their gritty lyrics and dark, atmospheric beats laid the foundation for the Memphis sound.
With their 2005 hit “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” winning an Academy Award, they marked a historic moment for hip-hop.
Their influence can still be felt today, with their style heavily impacting modern trap music.
Three 6 Mafia isn’t just a part of Memphis’s rap scene – they’ve etched their names into hip-hop history!
Now you’ve been schooled on the who’s who of Memphis hip-hop.
These rappers ain’t just repping the 901; they’re carving out their own corner in the annals of hip-hop history.
They’ve set the bar high, pushing out those raw, pulsating beats and lyrics that hit harder than a sledgehammer.
This list is about more than talent; it’s about vision, influence, and legacy.
From the raw, hypnotic beats of Three 6 Mafia to the introspective bars of Isaiah Rashad, these artists embody the spirit and soul of Memphis, and their impact continues to resonate throughout the hip-hop world.
Remember, it ain’t about where you’re from; it’s about where you’re at. And these Memphis rappers, they’re at the top.
So when you think of hip-hop, don’t forget about Memphis – where the beat hits hard, and the rhymes hit even harder!