The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Music Review: ‘90s rap album does not hold back whatsoever

Photo courtesy of T.W. Productions “Memphis Massacre” was released in 1992. The album has not been released on streaming services like Spotify, but it can be found on YouTube.

Michael Foster-Sanders
senior producer

Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D unknowingly laid the seeds for gangster rap with his reverb-heavy, abrasive song “P.S.K. What Does It Mean” in 1985, changing music forever.

The sprouts from P.S.K. reached L.A. and found future “Law & Order” actor Ice-T, who made his rendition of the song called “6 in the morning.” From there, Gangster Rap was nationwide.

Memphis, Tennessee is one of the places where the genre’s influence was heavily felt due to poverty, crime and drugs sweeping the city. Memphis already had a rich musical history because of Stax Records alumni such as Otis Redding, Issac Hayes and The Bar-Kays, but due to the hopelessness that was going on throughout the youth, a new sound was born.

Crunk, or Buck music, was being crafted by taking horror movie music samples, combining them with the reality of gangster rap and soul music. That was dubbed “The Pimpin.”

Artists like the future Academy Award-winning DJ Paul and Juicy J of Three 6 Mafia decided to dance with the devil and get Bible thumpers of the Bible belt Old Testament wrath with their lyrics of satanic worship, and all-out anarchy.

On the other side of the spectrum, you had Tommy Wright III, a teenager who was a product of foster care by the age of five and took to the streets to survive and decided to drop his debut album “Memphis Massacre” at the age of 16. The eight-track album is an assault on the listener’s auditory senses with its lyrics conjuring up visceral imagery of mayhem, drugs, sex and violence.

The album starts with Wright giving a shout-out to his friends and family who are dead, locked up or on the run over a simple snare drum striking every three bar of the measure, setting a spooky tone for the listener. Listening to Wright call out those names is haunting because of the pain in his voice toward his loved ones.

With police sirens going off, “Shoot 2 Kill” blasts through the listener’s speakers for the next track, and Wright is letting anyone against him, law enforcement or criminals know that he’s about gunplay. With a sample saying “shoot ‘em up” throughout the chorus, it paints Wright as one-man against the world.

The day in the life of a drug dealer is painted on the track “Caught You Slippin” with the warning of not being on your Ps and Qs will cost you dearly. While the song “Street Type N—-” is letting anyone who deals with his demeanor know not to expect him to change to make anybody feel comfortable.

The stand-out track “Don’t F— With Me” has a Tony Montana sample blaring the name of the track as the hi-hats blast and the bass blows the trunk off a box Chevy with the thunderous 808 drums pounding throughout the song.

The charm with Wright’s music is that, unlike his fellow city rappers, music production sounds somewhat professional and mixed. His music sounds like random one-takes with basic equipment and raw energy that harkens to punk rock music.

The bad thing about his album is that it’s not available on streaming platforms due to numerous samples that would most likely cause the legendary Memphis rapper financial issues, but his loyal fanbase has posted his discography to YouTube for those to listen.

Wright might not have reached the levels of stardom that other rappers reached in his city, but this album shows why he deserves a brass note on Beale Street.

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