Hashtag holidays typically evade me.
Unfortunately, I don't love donuts or pizza enough to jump in on those social media celebrations. I don't have a collage of pictures of with my siblings to post for #NationalSiblingsDay. And, sadly, I'd have to borrow a friend's dog to join in on #NationalDogDay.
But, waking up on September 1, realizing it is the only day I can get away guilt-free with hometown pride, has been a refreshing treat in the past three years that #901Day has become en vogue.
Celebrating from nearly 400 miles away is a little bittersweet. But, it actually makes the memories of home a lot more special. I couldn't imagine being able to survive anywhere else without the litany of lessons I learned while living in the Bluff City. And, although I'm sure most people are proud of the place they were born and bred, Memphis is unique in that it is particularly unapologetic, misunderstood and frankly unbothered with what you think. Nothing compares to that, even if outsiders might see trace elements of the vibes that make New Orleans, Atlanta and Nashville special in our fabric.
If you do happen to be in or near Memphis on Friday, there's a host of events worth checking to get in the spirit of our fairly new city-wide holiday. Thankfully, this year's #901Day falls on a three-day weekend. So, you have no excuse but to step out and share the best of what the town has to offer. Choose 901 has compiled a list of Friday night activities for all tastes.
Whether near or far, there's a ton of ways to let the spirit of the city sweep over you. Memphis and music go hand-in-hand. So, of course that's not a bad place to start getting in the mood.
We're right at a week from the late August release of Memphis rapper Daz Rinko's debut EP on EMPIRE Records, "Black Boy Joy". Rinko, who is managed by one of my childhood friends, has made sure to keep me up to speed with his flirtatious hip-house bops. A preview here and there via Twitter DM has keep me interested in what he has in store for the public. But, I'm curious to watch his growth as national media begins to receive his talent. NPR hip-hop guru Rodney Carmichael describes Rinko's recent project as "the total antithesis of his hometown's trademark gangsta walk," stating that his sound "bears little resemblance to the pimp-and-hustler prototypes and Tear Da Club Up Thugs that put his city on rap's map in the '90s." Don't let that deter you from turning him up high, though. Rinko, while defiant to convention, is also right on time as big, melodic, optimistic rap stars are high demand in the current marketplace, regardless of their regional affiliations. With Chance the Rapper taking his Chicago smile across the globe, it's only right that the South get a turn at the warm and fuzzy feelings going around.
Noisey also sat down with Rinko to speak more directly to about his life and work. For more info on the kid, check that interview, and keep your ears open for what hopefully will be a full-length follow up to his EP.
Fans of the pimpin', hustlin', club tearin' persuasion of Memphis rappers, customary to locals-only radio programs and nightclubs, might look elsewhere in last month's catalog of Memphis rap releases for a fix. Two projects that fit that mold came from Cup$ and Carlito da Don.
Cup$' long-awaited "1995: An Album" and Carlito's "Club Tales" are so kindred that its a wonder the two EPs weren't conjoined to make one proper LP. Evidence of the chemistry between the two comes in the form of three separate songs that actually appear on both projects: "Drunk Anthem" and "Foot in Her" feature both rappers, while Cup$ delivers solo song "Champagne Rain" with J Fetti on the hook.
Both rappers approach the mic with the kind of carefree swagger that only two guys who never really feel 100% committed could. I don't mean that in a derogatory way. In fact, I say it from the perspective of someone who has known both artist before they ever became...well, artists. Having spent nearly all of my single digit life knowing Cup$ and his brother Vincent, and meeting Carlito in high school, I'm a first-hand testament to tales of the duo's larger than life personas in a city where most black, middle class millennials are connected, at least informally. The transition into rap stardom will hopefully be second nature to two gentlemen who would likely be standing on couches, clasping bottles of Bombay gin, no matter which professions they ultimately choose. That exuberance for the party is the vein that runs at the heart of both of their short-plays on record. With Cup$ taking a slight edge in seniority in the rap game, he fittingly leads the way, with a controlled, dexterous meter that fills in the negative space on booming beats. Carlito, who almost Beyoncé'd his way into a surprise release, having only released his first song in July, snatches attention with his deep, warbling monotone. His legato is on full display on his finale track, "Chillin'". On the song, he finds a way to breathe a little bit of life into the "take your girl" narrative, even as it is old enough to trace back to "Ho-tel, Mo-tel, Holiday Inn".
"1995: An Album" is available on all digital distribution services, including iTunes, Apple Music and Tidal. "Club Tales", which is hosted by DJ A-Wall is available for stream on Spinrilla.
Of course, there's tons of tried and true Memphis legends worth listening to, in order to get hype or chill out while you're out and about putting on for the 901. Below are two playlists I compiled from Memphis rap's greatest to accommodate your mood, if you're amped-up for the party or cooled down for the kickback.