The Home of the Blues, Soulsville USA, and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The musical city of Memphis, Tennessee, goes by many names and still no one coined a fitting one yet for the indelible mark it has left on the landscape of hip-hop – even though the characteristic sound of M-Town has influenced everyone from the Migos, Drake, Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion to Lil Yachty and countless other artists from outside of Memphis’ city borders.
Dubbed the ‘triplet flow’, which divides one beat into *three notes, the distinctive rap pattern – either very slow or very fast – was made popular by Memphis rappers in the early 90s, and remains to be just as omnipresent in today’s music as the haunting melodies and heavy basslines that Memphis hip-hop pioneers like DJ Squeeky, DJ Zirk and the *Three 6 Mafia’s Hypnotize Minds camp used along on their boundary-pushing mixtapes.
Thought of as an isolated local phenomenon for the longest, the Memphis sound experienced a resurgence in the 2010s thanks to the likes of A$AP Rocky and the Migos. And it doesn’t seem to go anywhere: The new documentary “Kulturgut Memphis Rap – Tapemania” now pays homage to the city’s sound by tracing back its roots to the early days of flipping tapes straight out the trunk, all the way to present times where a rapper and tape collector from Germany (!) helps to keep Memphis’ tape culture alive from this site of the pond.