When you think of Memphis hip-hop, especially in the 2010s, a very particular picture comes to mind. Rappers who were rich by hustling turned to the studio and became the narrators of gang violence in the Bluff City. It is highly comparable to the explosion of the drill scene in Chicago. Many stories were being told, and kids who weren’t previously given an outlet to discuss the horror and struggle of their everyday lives suddenly had art to relate to, but through this much of the artistry built by Memphis icons such as the Three Six Mafia was lost to seemingly identical trap beats and lyrical patterns.
This emerged as the dominant Memphis sound until Xavier Wulf and Chris Travis blew onto the scene, but quickly made the move to Los Angeles full time to better support their careers. This left a large vacuum in the city of Memphis, and it has not been filled by a major artist since, but much like Nashville, there is an abundance of hidden gems just waiting to be given a chance.
Before I talk about another artist, the influence of the SESHOLLOWWATERBOYZ must be acknowledged. They provided the platform and blueprint for all of the underground music we have the privilege of enjoying today, and offered an outlet to thousands of kids who felt depressed, or just misunderstood, and gave them the chance to enjoy a whole different genre of rap in it of itself. Their impact is visible all over the Memphis underground that I have been exposed to thus far.
Grizzz falls directly into that category. He perfectly blends his melodic, slightly auto-tuned verses over top a beautifully postmodern blend of guitar playing and trap drums and hi-hats. This instrumental style is a perfect representation of today’s music, as various styles are meshed together into a more modern style, to form something completely different than any other product out there. Grizzz’s music is post-everything.
His dark lyrics give an insight into the sadness and anxiety riddled youth all over this country, and serves as an almost drowsy modern punk form. You can hear the pain in his voice, but this is not incredibly soulful music. The pain seems to exude as a jadedness and melancholy, that when combined with the heart-wrenching beat, puts you in a particularly depressed state of mind that has gained popularity sheerly off of its relatableness. These same feelings gave birth to the Team SESH movement, which was obviously a huge inspiration to Grizzz.
I recently read a quote that claimed, “this generation doesn’t listen to music with their ears, but rather with their eyes,” and this rings true in the visuals of Grizzz. His aesthetics are retro and at times startling, as his most recent video showed him throwing a Molotov cocktail, then dancing in the fire on the ground. The visuals are expertly paired, as they add even further to the chronic melancholy Grizzz is attempting to have his listeners understand. Rap is a form of expression in all forms, and this is the latest bastardization of this wave.
Depression and “cloud” rap are beginning to flow hand in hand, and Grizzz expertly creates moods of sorrow that perfectly encapsulate his feelings at the time of the song.
I a very impressed at the vocal patterns and melodies Grizzz is able to create, and sooner or later the world will take notice. I’m sure of it.
MCU: Your music is fairly depressing or grim at times. How do your feelings spill over into your music?
😦 I put everything I go through with myself and my friends into my music. Music nowadays lacks soul and I want to bring that back into the picture.
MCU: The Memphis underground scene is still largely unknown. How has your music been received by your city?
😦 Memphis only accepts the cookie cutter trap shit which is cool , until people like us try to do something different.
MCU: The SESH and “Cloud Rap” waves are clear influences in your music. Which particular artists do you draw the most inspiration from?
😦 I was never really a big sash fan until this year , Bones is a very good artist , and the production team is beautiful. I just did a song w Jouska & Smitty the bg from sesh and will be dropping a visual for it soon.
MCU: How did you guys put out the Molotov cocktail in the video? That was one of the cooler images I have seen in a music video of late?
😦 Jouska had a fire extinguisher luckily , but right before that Percy lit the gas can on fire.
MCU: When can we plan on seeing a full length Grizzz project?
😦 I’m currently working on an album w Jouska and hopefully a few more sesh prod. placements. I am also currently working on an EP w Hotel.
MCU: What’s next for you?
😦 Me and my friends are going to LA at the end of this month to play a show and meet up w some of our friends on the internet. I plan on dropping 2 more visuals and 2 more singles before dropping a body of work. Shoutout to Jouska, Hotel, Sonpacey, hollowsol, and Jonasty.
Check out Grizzz’s visual for “Talk 2 Me,” here.