Through Nashville, to the World.
My name is Jack Gregory, and I am Music City Underground.
I have loved a few things my entire life. Basketball was my first love, and that indirectly introduced me to my true passion. I was at an AAU practice when I was about eleven, and one of my coaches was managing a young TSU student and rapper named Openmic at the time. Pre-pubescent me spent most of his time watching basketball documentaries and downloading obscure mixtapes my parents would have never approved of off of Hulkshare and Datpiff. I distinctly remember sitting up on my dad’s Dell computer downloading Taylor Allerdice and Openmic’s For the Rebels onto my iPod nano, and immediately falling in love with Nashville rap music.
Openmic (who is now Mike Floss for those unaware) was my first taste of Nashville rap, and from there I learned about Antioch MC Dee Goodz, who was featured on this project, and began to follow him on an unknown website called Soundcloud. My AAU teammate and point guard’s father was a Nashville street legend, and through him I found out about Tha City Paper, Young Buck, Pistol, and many more OGs that dominated my middle school playlists.
Mind you, I went to St. Paul, a conservative, Christian school in Green Hills, and listening to these records was, well, a little unorthodox. I was an outcast for this, and never really found any kids I went to school with who liked the music and culture I did. This always stuck with me, and began to take a huge toll as I hid my love for music all the way through high school.
I desperately wanted to interact with the culture and find like-minded people that would actually appreciate my love for rap and streetwear. Last summer, going into my junior year, I began re-selling Vlone, sneakers, Supreme, and a variety of other things on eBay and around town to other kids that appreciated the fineries of expensive streetwear. I quickly amassed three or four thousand dollars, and wanted to reinvest it in a way that I could continue to contribute to the culture.
I had two ideas. One was to start a clothing brand. This seemed really cool, mainly because I had been binge watching Tyler Grosso and Zac FTP interviews at the time. I was going to name it “Reboot the System,” and trust me, it was gonna be fire as fuck. The other was to start a sort of “Nashville No Jumper,” which was the much simpler idea, and seemed to fit my skillset more. I made a twitter account and I started posting music video snippets from any Nashville rappers I could find and watched the account slowly but surely rack up followers. I bought a camera and a few hundred dollars of recording equipment and set up shop in my garage.
The first two artists I connected with were Scotty Rockwell and bukuSteez, so naturally I reached out to them first about doing a podcast. Scotty promptly agreed, and a few days later he and his friend showed up in my garage to talk music.
I was sweating like a pig in that humid garage with no air-conditioning. The night prior I ran to Plato’s Closet to grab some stickers to cover the table with, in a feeble attempt to mirror the aesthetics of No Jumper. I waited for a couple hours, as I was exposed to my first taste of the chronic tardiness that all rappers seem to share. We talked for forty eight minutes and thirty six seconds, and to this day, that was one of the best chunks of time in my life.
After the initial interview dozens of other artists approached wanting to talk. Next came Agent Paco, then bukuSteez, then The Slovaks, and then Bad Cop. At this point I had started a rinky-dink WordPress blog where I began to cover a few of the artists I thought were cool at the time. I saw little growth, and almost gave it up. That was until I spoke to my AP English teacher about it. I showed him some of the articles and wanted some pointers, as he was a freelance writer himself. He was the first person to encourage me to write and pursue my interests, and that resulted in my favorite article I have ever written.
My beef with Lightning 100:
I want to preface this by saying that I like Lightning 100. Whenever my phone dies that’s the first station I turn to, and they have done a ton to expand Nashville’s music scene beyond the typical country horse shit.
One of the things Scotty and I discussed was how crazy Live on the Green would be if they shared the stages with Nashville rappers. I watched hundreds of kids my age wild out and crowd-surf to Sheryl Crowe, and it was painfully obvious that Nashville’s youth were fiending for a more relevant touch to the festival.
To this day I fantasize about seeing Walt Flames or Jdoughblay turn that crowd of millennials into a riot, but those dickheads still won’t answer my emails.
After an unforeseen stroke of inspiration I hopped on my computer and started to type my thoughts about Lightning 100 and why its imperative to the future of Nashville and their fanbase that they begin to cover rap.
They actually DM’d me a few weeks ago asking for me to send them some local rap I was a fan of.
As you could probably guess, they still haven’t played any.
This was my first hit as an article, as it took off in a previously not seen flutter of retweets. I felt so accomplished as dozens of artists I followed religiously began to hop in my DM’s and tell me how much they appreciated and enjoyed the article. This was the kick in the pants I needed to keep fucking writing.
I had seen Cole Bennett change his bio from “Chicago Now, Global Soon” to “Global Now, Chicago Forever” and knew I needed something catchy like that to encapsulate my feelings towards this city. My parents dragged me to church that weekend, and all I absorbed from the sermon was one phrase, “Through Nashville, to the World.” I immediately whipped out my phone to write that down because I knew from that moment that this phrase was the perfect description of what I hope to accomplish with this blog.
I started digging as deep into Soundcloud as possible, and new artists began to pop up everyday. Great music flooded my playlists and I knew at that moment that Nashville had some serious star power. I covered artists like Fxnesse, Terrence615, Rocky Block, Jung Youth, and Eddy Niz, and I found others like Walt Flames, Jdoughblay, Lil Bruh Davis, Vann, and Park Mobb. The more I wrote, the more people listened. I had finally found my purpose, and finally found people who actually gave a shit about what I had to say. So many connections formed and business was booming, even though I haven’t made any money off of this monstrosity to this day.
I was about to throw a show with a certain rapper who has a lot of drugs for lonely days and several Nashville artists, but my parents hit me with an ultimatum.
Give up football, my girlfriend, or the blog. My grades had started to slip, and junior year is kind of the make or break point of high school academics, especially involving football recruiting.
It was a frustrating no brainer. Music City Underground had to be put on hold until the summer, and there was not going to be a concert anytime soon.
The next day my girlfriend and I went to 12 South for lunch and my typical rage directed towards the “I Believe in Nashville” cunts and hipsters alike manifested itself in a stroke of genius.
God I hate those people so much.
I actually never intended for the gentrification article to appear on the site. I wrote it as an essay for my English class, and the same teacher who told me to actually pursue MCU responded to the piece with open arms.
I knew what I had to do.
I took that academic paper and edited it into something that I knew would turn heads and get my point across at the same time, and did it ever. After publishing, I sat at my phone, refreshing twitter for an hour or so, seeing new people loving the article. My heart swelled with pride, but simultaneously filled with anger as I pictured bridesmaids wearing those ugly ass “615” hats.
Hiatus number two.
This backed straight into recruiting season, as I had to kiss the ass of every single college coach coming to visit school or hopping in my DM’s, no matter how obsolete the school was.
I didn’t publish an article for months, but after a talk with my dad I knew what I wanted my next words as Music City Underground to be.
That’s where “This is Nashville,” was born. It was received even better than the gentrification piece, and to this day it is my pinned tweet.
Music City Underground is booming. Fredo Ruthless’s article shot me into another stratosphere and now, thanks to you, I get over one thousand clicks per week, but my dumb ass still doesn’t know how to sell ads, so I remain broke and happy.
I have turned down several people asking to write for the site and even people wanting to buy it because I love it way too much. I have put my blood, sweat, and tears into Nashville, and I have seen so much positive come from this blog.
I’ve listened to hours of amazing music and met hundreds of amazing people in Nashville and beyond.
Today, I accepted a position as an A&R and staff writer with Elevator, so Music City Underground may go dormant for a while again. Next year I will be at Belmont though, and I promise to make sure Nashville finally gets the respect it deserves.
All of my articles from here on out will only be with my favorite Nashvillians and will be meticulously crafted and edited.
I want to thank every single one of you for respecting me and helping Music City Underground grow into what it is today.
PS: I feel some shoutouts are in order.
Without these people, none of this would be possible.
bukuSteez and Moriah
Gee of Park Mobb
Conyers and Can We Smoke in Here?
My mom and dad
and so many more…