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8-9 ....................... Devin Steel 10 ................ DJ Houston, DJ Q 12 ............. Rocksteddy, D-Nyce 13 ............. Big Sue, Herschel B 14 .............Howard Q, Boogaloo 16-17 ..............The Memphis 10 18-21 ..... The Memphis DJ Scene 22-23 ....................... The MCs 24 .......................... Young Ro 26-29 ............................. Gyft

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

MEMPHIS! Editor: Cory Sparks Online Editor: Daria Greene Sales: Ricardo Hunter Distribution: Connell Boyland Art Director: Rex2 Publishing Consultant: Bryan Deese

CONCRETE Magazine - Memphis 8001 Centerview Pkwy, Suite 205 Cordova, TN 38018

901.531.6117

concretememphis@gmail.com Š CONCRETE Magazine 2011


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When I was 10 years old, my older brother Colin introduced me to double copies of 12 inches that stick with me to this day: Hasheem Al-Naafysh’s “It’s Time”. Growing up in a musical household, music was the basis for everything. From Chicago and Stevie Wonder to The Isley’s with my mom, on the weekend it was Muddy Waters, Rolling Stones and The Marley’s at my dad’s house. It was only natural for me to gravitate toward my brother’s ingenuity. Four years older, Colin used to cut beats turning the “aux” from right to left, the early makings of a fader. As crazy as it sounds this was the beginning or my first dose of cutting a record. Colin and I used to listen to “Club No Name Hotmix” on the weekend with Sunny D and Ray the J. I was always the kid with the boom box and DJ’ed dances at Snowden, then to Central and C-Crew Parties, Gents and then Kappa League. Those of you should remember that those parties were crazier than the Nupes parties back then, which was a feat within itself. Although I’m still in my 30’s, remember I’ve been at this actively longer than most because I started so young. So much of my life has been molded by music, hip-hop and the turntable to be precise. Thanks to friends like Howard Q, whom I met while he was visiting UT Martin one homecoming while I was tearing down a Que party. RJ Groove, who was probably credited as the first real “Street Jock”, club owner and weekender on WHRK back then. Even before the Groove Train, Thursday Night at 616 and learning the business with politics from Groove and both a 20 something year old Howard Q. There are those of us that still have a room filled with thousands of lifeless pieces of wax that we have too much invested to “chunk” them while in the back of mind hoping that we will need them one day. Probably not. For now we’ve all made the transition; some better than others and using new tools and technology to make DJing easier. No more 10 crates up the stairs, back of the dorm room or messing up the back of the car or suspension. I tore up my wife Keysia’s 280 ZX and her Volvo in college before I even had transportation. Like I mentioned before, these are the stories that mold us guys with “passion” for it. Salute to the DJ who still argues with the promoter or club owner on what he’s worth and what he brings to the table. Promote the culture, don’t rob it, don’t prostitute it, and by all means don’t disrespect it in any way.


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DJing since: 1996 CONCRETE: We did a poll on twitter on Memphis’s favorite DJ and you won by a landslide. Why do the people gravitate towards DJ Houston? Houston: No matter what I’m always me. I do me. I don’t let what everybody else is doing or what everybody thinks is popular determine what I do ... I stay humble and true to myself. I’m just me! Plus I’m one hell of a DJ! CONCRETE: Since you are a popular DJ in all the major clubs in the market, what is your main focus? Houston: Since I’m out in the clubs every weekend to try to keep things fresh and new... And really just make sure that everyone enjoys themselves and get their money’s worth. Especially with the way the economy is going now. People are coming out and spending their hard earned money so I always strive to provide a quality party experience. CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Why? Houston: My pops! He still spins to this day. He taught me a lot about the game at an early age and made me what I am today! DJ Jazzy Jeff (Fresh Prince) is also my favorite. Dude is cold... No explanation is really necessary. I also want to shout out all the DJs I listened to coming up: Howard Q, Devin Steel, DJ 2 Smooth, Superman, Spydermann, DJ Jus Bourne, Boogaloo and Jus T. I salute! CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? Houston: Hopefully within 5 years I’ll be doing something other than DJing. I got a new team called Varsity Squad. We are a one stop shop for DJs, MCs, graphic designers and marketing and promotions. We Are The Starting Lineup! Also I still have my “got sexy?” movement. I plan on doing some very big things with that in the near future so ladies be on the lookout! Web info: twitter - @dj_houston, facebook /memphisbest, website - djhouston.com vsquad.net.

DJing since: 2005 Proudest moment of your career: DJ Q: Right now! It was the day I was hired at Hot 107! CONCRETE: You are the new night jock at Hot 107 after years of grinding. Now that you are there, what is your main focus? DJ Q: MY focus is making myself better at my craft, making sure the local artists get heard and making my station #1. CONCRETE: How has DJing changed in the past 5 years? DJ Q: To be honest the party scene has changed people. People aren’t partying like they used to. CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Why? DJ Q: I would have to go with DJ Houston. His party style isn’t like everyone else’s and he actually makes you want to party! CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? DJ Q: In the next 5 years I want to be the biggest DJ to come out of Memphis and DJ at all the major clubs around the country. CONCRETE: What’s your all time favorite club record? DJ Q: “Lost” Gorilla Zoe Web info: Twitter - @DJQMEMPHIS, Facebook - / DJQofHotOneOhSeven, Website - DJQMemphis.com


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DJing since: 2007 Proudest moment of your career: R. Steddy: My proudest moment so far has been forming Mula Gwala Events with my brother Reggie P. With a team of young and motivated people, we have managed to bring artists, comedy shows, and countless memorable parties in and out of Memphis. CONCRETE: How has the game changed in the past 5 years? R. Steddy: Social Networking has really influenced where people are going when it comes to parties and night clubs. Back in the day, if you wanted to know how a party was you would just drive by. In this day and age people can just send a picture of your party out with a click of a button. Thank God my parties don’t get the bad press lol. CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Why? R. Steddy: Lately I’ve really been inspired by DJ Bonics from Pittsburgh, PA. He’s a mixshow DJ in Pittsburgh and he’s also Wiz Khalifa’s road DJ. He’s been DJing all over the world lately and performing in front of thousands of people. You can’t hate on the guy. CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? R. Steddy: My 5 year plan consists of gaining a position as a permanent mixer at a radio station and to brand myself nationally. I recently joined forces with the Street Execs DJs based in Atlanta, so I’m looking forward to working with independent artist all over and bringing it back home to Memphis. Turn^Time Web info: twitter - @djrocksteddy, facebook - /djrocksteddy

DJing since: 2007 Proudest moment of your career: That’s a hard question. I would have to say getting radio time at K97 but DJing Memphis Grizzlies events and receiving an award in Vegas for making the Top 100 nightclubs is right up there with it. CONCRETE: You have brought your entrepreneur spirit to the business of DJing by doing your own events. What is your main focus? D-Nyce: My main focus is to continue branding my name and bringing fun events to the city but most importantly to never conform to the norm. I threw a couple of parties in 2011, but 2012 I’m going hamsammich! CONCRETE: How has the game changed in the past 5 years? D-Nyce: A lot! Venues are limited, Technic turntables are no longer being made and the group of DJs I started off with are now the “Youngest In Charge”. CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Why? D-Nyce: I would have say Kid Capri because he not only DJs but also MC’s, which is what I do. He heard me spinning, gave me his contact, and I’ve been getting game from him every since. Gotta respect a legend! CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? D-Nyce: As far as my DJ career, I want to continue networking and creating new opportunities for myself. Hopefully get more airtime on the radio and become international. I’m squeezing that 5 into 2 though ya dig! Web info: twitter- @dj_dnyce901, facebook - /iamdnyce


DJing since: 2004 (radio since 2000) Proudest moment of your career: I’m most proud of the moments when I make career advancement because they have all represented very pivotal moments in my life. CONCRETE: You are the Assistant Program Director, Morning Show Producer/Co-Host, Midday personality and you DJ clubs regularly. You are the hardest working DJ in Memphis! How do you do it all? Big Sue: I truly love what I do, and I feel fortunate to be able to rock so many hats. Honestly some days are tough, but I think that you need to challenge yourself in order to progress. I’m also a beast with time management. CONCRETE: How has the game changed in the past 5 years since you’ve been DJing? Big Sue: It seems like literally hundreds of new djs are created everyday, due to either the mass production of dj software or social networking revealing just how many of us are out here. Whichever the case, I think it’s become increasingly more important to set yourself apart by honing your skill set and marketing yourself effectively. CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? Big Sue: My plan is to continue growing my personal brand by meeting the goals I set for myself annually. Web info: www.k97fm.com; my site: http://suzietaughtme. com; Facebook - /Big Sue; Twitter: @_BigSue

DJing Since: As long as I can remember CONCRETE: What are you known for? Herschel B: Working at the #1 Gentlemans Club in the MidSouth, Pure Passion. CONCRETE: What’s your side hustle? Herschel B: I sell cars at my car lot 1 Stop Auto. CONCRETE: What’s your favorite record to drop in the club at 1am? Herschel B: It has to be “Flexin” by Young Jeezy, Yo Gotti and Fabolous. CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Herschel B: My favorite DJ in Memphis is DJ Houston. CONCRETE: What’s your DJ style? Herschel B: My personal DJ style is breaking records for all artists. Twitter - @HerschelB

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DJing Since: 1988 Proudest Moment of your career: Standing on top of the water slide at Wild Water & Wheels looking a 10k people coming to my event via a traffic jam on I-40 that had a 5 mile radius. This was July ‘97. No radio, No TV. Just a street team headed up by Tim “TJ” Jones. CONCRETE: You have been around for a long time. What is the most significant change to the DJ profession in the past 10 years? Howard Q: The technology has enabled industry entry to be much faster than previous generations. Technology also blurs the experience line between expertise and execution. CONCRETE: Who is YOUR favorite DJ? Howard Q: DJ 2 Smooth. He gives the same intensity to spinnin’ whether it’s a card party or arena gig. He’d rock a party down to the ground w/o playing a track twice, w/o a mic, or MC. He’s the 1st DJ, I know, to make animated/classic mix (cassette) tapes. CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? Howard Q: To embrace the future. Form alliances to develop a centralized network to market/experience all things related to nightlife and entertainment culture by seamlessly connecting social media, web technology, communication devices and TV. Web info: twitter - @Howardkew, website - mphsmix.com

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DJing Since: The 80’s Proudest Moment of your career: Without question, appearing in “Hustle & Flow” was the proudest moment of my career. It was an absolute honor for Craig Brewer and John Singleton to have even considered me. Craig said that he grew up listening to me and felt that I was the best fit for the part. CONCRETE: You have been around for a long time. What is the most significant change to the DJ profession in the past 10 years? Boogaloo: Well, of course the transition from vinyl records to Serato has been the biggest change. Back in the day, you had to search, look through your Daddy’s old records and even order records from overseas to have records no one else had in order to compete with the next DJ. The other thing that has significantly changed the DJ game within the last two years is the “Microwave DJs” movement. True DJs know exactly how difficult it is to perfect this craft! Man, it took us at least two years to learn how to blend a record with turntables and a few more just to learn how to scratch. Turntablism, it is a dying art form. CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? Boogaloo: In the next five years, if not sooner, I want to continue producing music. Hopefully, that will include producing a number one song. I am also looking to reopen Boogaloo’s, my restaurant. Whatever happens, I will certainly continue to rock the party scene and promote Memphis’ Hip Hop contributions. Web info: Radio Station - Hot1071.com, Hip-hop news - HipHopNewsDaily.com, Twitter - @djboogaloo


16 From: Memphis, TN Height: 5’8” Measurements: 36-24-37 Photographer: Patrick Covington CONCRETE: What body part of yours attracts the most attention? Shaniece: My lips and legs. CONCRETE: What do you wish people paid attention to? Shaniece: I wish people paid attention to the person I truly am and not the person I’m perceived to be. When people see me they instantly assume I’m stuck up and arrogant. I’m the complete opposite. CONCRETE: If you could sleep with one woman, who would it be and why? Shaniece: Of course it would be myself. No one knows my body better than I do and no one knows what I like more than I do. CONCRETE: What is the most creative thing a guy has said or done to approach you? Shaniece: When I was a bartender a guy asked me how much I had made in tips that day. My response to his question was, “not enough”. He said, “I’ll triple


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the tips you made and whatever you make an hour to have 10 minutes of your time.” CONCRETE: Who is your style icon? Why? Shaniece: Kate Moss is my style icon. She can throw on a pair of skinny leg jeans, a tank, a blazer, and some bad pumps and look like the 9 million dollars she’s worth. Simple yet eye catching. I can relate. CONCRETE: Lights on or off? Shaniece: Lights on. I want to see facial expressions. CONCRETE: What’s your signature (food) dish? Shaniece: My dish is Hawaiian steak and steamed asparagus. CONCRETE: Shoes on or off? Shaniece: I prefer to keep my heels on. I pay too much for them to take them off. CONCRETE: Top or bottom? Shaniece: Top. I like to be in control. CONCRETE: What do you want to be doing in 5 years? Shaniece: In 5 years I will be graduating from grad school, working in the social work field, opening a few salons in the city, on your TV screen and on one of the pages in Forbes Magazine. Twitter - @PieceOfShaniece


DJing Since: 2002 Known for: Weddings, karaoke, providing DJ service all over the city in all capacities. Side hustle: Photography. Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “That Way” Wale Favorite DJ: Jam Master Jay and Kid Capri Twitter: @TIMKARAOKEKING

DJing Since: December 2005 Known for: I DJ at 2 of the Hottest Clubs in the City (Club 152 & Club Push)! I’m Also One the Few Video DJ’s In Memphis Favorite DJ: Devin Steel and DJ Frogie. Twitter: @iamdjswagg

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DJing Since: 1991 Known for: Cutting, scratching and body tricks. Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “P*ssy Ass Rappers“ by Yo Gotti Favorite DJ: DJ Roc Raida (RIP) Twitter: @djjrocc1071

DJing Since: 1989 Known for: Breaking new artists Favorite DJ: ME! But I respect all DJs! Twitter: @IAMKUTTA


#HomeTeamDJs DJing Since: 2004 Known for: Blends and clever mash-ups, aggressive acratches and The Hood Muzik MixTape Series. Side hustle: Ask Cory Sparks and DJ RockSteddy (lmao)! Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: Don Trip “P-O-P” Favorite DJ: DJ Larry Live for his grind, Devin Steel for his knowledge, DJ Houston for his versatility. Twitter: @dj_cpthegreat

pronounced Wee-ge DJing Since: 1998 Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “No Hands” still does the job! Favorite DJ: DJ Z-Trip Twitter: @DJQuiji

DJing Since: Amateur 1985, Professionally 1991 Known for: The Sexual Series and The Crunkest Hour In Radio Side hustle: Hosting events for various promoters. Favorite DJ: DJ Houston, hands down. Twitter: @djspydermann

DJing Since: 1993 Known for: Signing autographs somewhere near you! Side hustle: Graphics Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: Gucci Mane “I Think I Luv Her” Favorite DJ: Jazzy Jeff Facebook: /Rob Storm

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DJing Since: 1999 Known for: Coast 2 Coast Mixtape DJ, President of the Mid-South DJ Coalition, A&R at Select-O-Hits Music Distribution. Side hustle: I don’t really have a side hustle. My degree is in music business I can’t stay away from the business. Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “I’m On One” DJ Khaled with Drake & Lil Wayne & Rick Ross Favorite DJ: DJ Premier, Grandmaster Flash, Kid Capri Funkmaster Flex, Jazzy Jeff, Jermaine Dupri, DJ Boogaloo Boyer, Devin Steele and DJ Houston(Memphis). Twitter info: @DJBay

DJing Since: 1987 Known for: The high school cafeteria, college, clubs and radio. Side hustle: The stock market and upscale high-end events. Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “Magic Remix” with Yo Gotti. DJ style: Old school twist with a new school flare. Twitter info: @ DjSuperman901

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DJing Since: Way back when. Known for: Breaking records. Side hustle: Artist Development Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “Back That Ass Up” by Juvenile. You can never lose with that record. Twitter info: @dj007thegreat

DJing Since: 2001 Known for: Having worked with some of the best talent in Memphis. To name a few: Skewby, Al Kapone, and a band member of FreeSol. Side hustle: Health Enthusiast Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “Juvenile” Back That Ass Up Favorite DJ: DJ A Trak, DJ Z Trip, DJ Crumbz and DJ Q-Bert. DJ style: Using my background of hiphop turntablism with party rocking. I’m in the band FreeSol so I use the turntables as an instrument through our live show. Twitter info: @DJCharlieWhite

DJing Since: 1998 Known for: Production, engineering, and breaking underground records. Side hustle: DJ’ing. Producing is currently my main hustle. Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: Jay-Z “P.S.A.” Favorite DJ: DJ Babu of The World Famous Beat Junkies. DJ style: Mixes and blends mixed with turntablism. There’s an art to it. DJ’ing. The turntables can be just as much of an instrument as say a piano or guitar. Twitter info: @IMAKEMADBEATS


DJing Since: Spinnin records since 1991’ Side hustle: Marketing, Promotions and Street Team Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: “You The Boss” with Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj Favorite DJ: My brotha from a different mother DJ Jusborne. DJ style: Play to the people. They dictate the outcome of the party. Twitter info: NO twitter but you can reach me on Facebook Carebeazzy Stewart. DJing Since: 1999 Known for: Rocking any crowd type. Side hustle: Corporate America. Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: Black Eye Peas “I Got a Feeling”. Your favorite DJ: DJ Jazzy Jeff Twitter info: @Djkaysmoove

DJing Since: 2004 Known for: “DanceOnYaFriend” and “LIGHTAAAA!!!” Side hustle: DJing is my Hustle! Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: Anything by my nigga Young Dolph. Your favorite DJ: My big brotha DJ Larry Live DJ style: My style is “StupidLoud” lol get it! Twitter info: @WersMyLighta

DJ Name: DJ Lil Larry aka Larry Live DJing Since: Over 10 years Known for: Always keeping the party supa live! Side hustle: Gettin $$$$$$. Favorite record to drop in the club at 1am: Don Trip “This Is the Life”. Your favorite DJ: My lil brother DJ Lighta. Twitter info: @901LarryLive

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MCing since: 2002 Proudest moment of your career: I have many proud moments in my career, but one of my greatest achievements is being Yo Gotti’s official DJ! CONCRETE: What made you want to MC? Tiny: The first time I went to Denim & Diamond In Memphis and heard “HYPO ON DA MIC”. CONCRETE: What separates you from other MCs? Tiny: I feel that I have a natural God given ability to control a crowd. CONCRETE: What is your main focus throughout the night? Tiny: Keeping people entertained. CONCRETE: What makes an effective MC? A great MC enhances the DJ. CONCRETE: How has the game changed in the past 5 years since you’ve been MCing? Tiny: There are no MC’s, just people that scream on the mic. CONCRETE: What is your all time favorite record in the club? Tiny: I have so many favorite records. I can’t pinpoint one! CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Why? Tiny: Any DJ that can control the night. However I have a lot of respect for DJ Mic Tee and DJ Rock Steddy. We’ve been grinding in Memphis clubs together for a while now and we just getting started on this legacy. CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? Tiny: Whatever God has planned for me. twitter - @iambigtiny

MCing since: 2005 Proudest moment of your career: A club fired me and the numbers dropped significantly and the week they called me back, in the middle of the night, the DJ stopped the music and the crowd just started clapping and screaming in the ‘We are glad you’re back’ manner. CONCRETE: What made you want to MC? N. Boogie: I never wanted to, the opportunity presented itself and I ran with it. CONCRETE: What separates you from other MCs? N. Boogie: I actually interact with the crowd. I don’t scream over every song. I’m not scared to have the DJ stop the music and just tell the patrons that we appreciate them. CONCRETE: What makes an effective MC? N. Boogie: Not talking over every song. Great interaction with the DJ. Crowd participation and more important than anything, having fun with it. What is your all time favorite record in the club? Kanye West “Flashing Lights” CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Why? N. Boogie: DJ Houston hands down! The phrase we lived by. (He doesn’t tell me what to say, I don’t tell him what to play ... most of the time, LOL) CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? N. Boogie: Honestly, I’ll be a millionaire in four years and retired in nine. twitter - @nateboogie facebook - /iamnateboogie web - boogie300.com


MCing since: 1999 Proudest moment of your career: I have 2. One is rocking many cities with GYFT, and helping him getting his music out to the world. The other would be recently when I was able to MC a charity basketball game sponsered by Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies with stars like Lebron James and Kevin Durant. CONCRETE: What made you want to MC? C- Diddy: I got into MCing by accident. Back home in Montgomery, AL at a club called The Rose, a DJ I used to work with named Jack Abbot was spinning. The MC for the night DJ T-Live out of ATL got hung up and couldn’t make it so I stepped in and been rocking ever since. CONCRETE: What is your main focus throughout the night? C- Diddy: My main focus is to entertain. Make sure the audience is having the best time possible. And also to be the eyes of security, normally when you MC you have a panoramic view of the entire venue and can see if any unnecessary events are going on. CONCRETE: Who is your favorite DJ? Why? C- Diddy: I would have to say DJ Houston here in Memphis and Dj Infamous in Atlanta. DJ Houston knowledge of records new and old, and his mixing and play selection are excellent. CONCRETE: What’s your 5 year plan? C- Diddy: In 5 years, I definitely see TV hosting in my future, movies and definitely still working with artists and talents. I’ve got a lil talent myself so you never know what I may do. Album maybe? twitter - @cdiddy14ltl facebook - Chris Harris & C.Diddy tumblr - /timesofmine

a.k.a. Baby Reggie MCing since: Started my senior year of high school which was 5 years ago. Proudest moment of your career: I realized that I have accomplished everything I said would. CONCRETE: What made you want to MC? Reggie: Power! I started working at Skateland Raleigh. I was the new guy in North Memphis fresh from Long Beach, CA. They had an Annual Weekday party they threw every summer. Big Tiny, who I would later meet, was the MC that night. Everything he told the crowd to do, they did! It was control and it was amazing. CONCRETE: What separates you from other MCs? Reggie: What separates me from other MC’s is that I had a Master plan. I wanted to learn how to MC but I also wanted to throw events and make myself more of a brand. I now throw my own events under my Entertainment company and I MC them. CONCRETE: What makes an effective MC? Reggie: Confidence, personality, and being yourself. The crowd feeds off you. CONCRETE: What is your all time favorite record in the club? Reggie: It would have to be “Public Service Announcement” by Jay-Z. The record never gets old. twitter - @Reggiepfine facebook - /Reggiepfine web - CurrencyCulture.com

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CONCRETE: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Yung Ro: I’m a 2x Billboard rap entertainer hailing from St. Louis, MO, the World Series Champs. Currently I am on my independent grind, strengthening my foundation and taking it viral. CONCRETE: How did you get into music? Yung Ro: My pops owns a known tattoo parlor in the St. Louis area. Being there I saw everybody from Nelly to Spice 1 getting tatted. I had to be no more than 8 years old choppin it up with Nelly. That, right there sparked my interest in the rap game. CONCRETE: Nowadays everyone wants to be a musician. As an independent artist what sets you apart from the rest? What makes you special? Yung Ro: Being heir to a 16 year company I’m forced to have my game face on. I’m 19 years old and own my own label, recording studio and youth organization called Runway2Empowerment. I never limit my fan base. That’s what helped me chart Billboard 2x in four different categories. CONCRETE: We are in the age of multimedia and nontraditional ways of promoting entertainment. How do you plan on promoting your craft? Yung Ro: True indeed. Computers and the internet have changed the game. I want to go viral and invaded every female’s computer, iPod, and every cell phone. CONCRETE: What or who inspires your work? Yung Ro: Me, myself and I. I like others artists music very much. But my music has to reflect me. CONCRETE: What do you think of the state of music today? Yung Ro: Music constantly evolves. I think lyrical content is starting to come back. With the economy so jacked up like it is, I think people want to hear feel good music again. Not too much regarding shit you can’t even pronounce or forward. I’m just trying to keep it real and my music reflects me. CONCRETE: Finally how can people get a hold of you and your music? Yung Ro: Well www.itsmyurls.com/yungro is my hub with all my social websites. You can always reach me direct on twitter @yungrobp or my office 314-621-1020. Email - pearlgallerystudio@gmail.com.

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CONCRETE: That’s respectable. A lot of people look at the drug game and only see the flashy cars, the women, and the money. Gyft: Right. Most people are going to get caught. There are only a handful of people out here doing what these rappers are claiming. The majority of them get caught. 50 Cent said it perfectly. “By the time you finish fighting your case and paying off your lawyer and spending time in jail, it’s minimum wage.” There are times when business is slow. There are times when there’s a lot of work out there. There are a lot of factors to consider. To glamorize it to that kid and have him thinking he’s gonna just get in and get rich is wrong. More than likely you’re going to jail. Or you’re going to get robbed. One more thing, I’m not going to call out names or try to shade any artist. But, if someone has truly lived that life, they aren’t going to glamorize it. There’s nothing glamorous about it. Riding down the street next to a police car scared because you’ve got stuff on you... staying up all hours of the night working... It’s not glamorous. It’s grimy. But, if that same rapper watched someone else living that life and only got to see bits and pieces, the way they’d tell the story as someone not involved might be a little different. Some of these rappers are telling other people’s biographies. CONCRETE: What made you decide to tell your story now? Gyft: I had to get it out. Some people may not like me for it. Some people are going to question my motives. That’s cool. I can respect that. I didn’t do this album for other people. I did it for me and me alone. I sat in my condo away from everybody and just released all of these thoughts and decided it was time. I considered waiting until I was with a major, but Drumma reminded me that this will be the only time that

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I have complete control of my entire project. I don’t have any records that were made for radio. This is just a documentary of my life, my story. CONCRETE: Would you go back to that lifestyle? Gyft: [long pause] Yes. I actually have a lyric in a song on this album that goes, “I’d rather do anything than be broke.” I don’t want to be poor. If I have to take the risk, then so be it. But I’m in a place where I have a kid now. On one hand, I don’t ever want to be taken away from him. On the other hand, I don’t ever want him to want for anything. CONCRETE: If it ever came to that point, why not just get a job? Isn’t that selfish? Gyft: Once you’ve experienced the lifestyle, you can’t get away from it. Is it selfish? Yes. But that’s one of the things that make us human. Gyft will be holding a private screening of his extended documentary this month. Look for his new album to drop in late January. Follow him on Twitter @IAmGyft for updates. -Danielle Inez


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Fraud. That’s the first word likely to enter your mind when you read the personal account of one of the Mid-south’s biggest breakout artists in recent history. Gyft, the artist behind the 2009 summer classic “Just Don’t Know,” left the limelight quietly after winning over fans across the nation and overseas. “People see me but they just don’t know...” was heard all over the radio, on television, and even at NBA games. The youth fell in love with him. Parents cosigned his lyrics. Even one of the city’s most influential pastors welcomed him to perform at his church. Gyft seemed to have accomplished the impossible – he’d become a successful Memphis rapper without promoting drugs or violence. But who was he, really? Gyft sat down with Concrete Magazine for an exclusive account of what happened after “Just Don’t Know,” why he’s back now, and where he’s headed. Some of his answers may surprise you.


CONCRETE: Let’s start with what you’ve been up to. Catch up our readers... Gyft: I’ve still been doing some music. I’ve released stuff here and there since “Just Don’t Know” – mostly virally. People assumed that since I had so much success with that one record that I’d just be on after that. It doesn’t work like that. For one, the thing that I didn’t want to happen was the first thing that I had to face: I did not want to have a record that was bigger than me, the artist. People knew the record but didn’t know me... they didn’t care about my story... they just wanted me to push out more records like “Just Don’t Know.” There wasn’t a major label backing me – contrary to popular belief, I was never signed to a label. I had to make stuff happen for myself and build just like everyone else. I have a condo in Atlanta now. That’s where I’ve been working on my current album. CONCRETE: What do you mean when you say the record was bigger than the artist? Gyft: Exactly that. People knew the song, but who was Gyft? Don’t get me wrong – I loved “Just Don’t Know,” but the box that record put me in wasn’t me. I wasn’t some positive influence for the kids to look up to. I knew the truth. I felt like I was working to be who the fans wanted me to be and not being true to myself. That’s not the type of person I am. CONCRETE: You were a positive influence because of more than the song though. You’re well spoken, clean cut... Gyft: Yeah. I came from a two-parent home. I went to college. I consider myself to be well-educated. But I’m a hustler. There’s something in me that has always been a go-getter, and I’ve never been a 9-to-5 type of person. And I’m a private person. The things that I was involved in aren’t the types of things that I wanted to broadcast. CONCRETE: What exactly were you involved in? Gyft: Drugs. I was heavily involved, long before this music thing. When you’re in that line of business – really in it, you don’t want a whole bunch of people knowing what you’re doing. So for a while, it was cool that people had profiled me as this certain kind of positive rapper. That allowed me to do what I needed to do without a lot of eyes on me. CONCRETE: Wow... nothing about you suggests that type of lifestyle. Gyft: Right. The funny thing is that in “Just Don’t Know,” the first lyric of the first verse was “I’m fresh off the block... the hustla’ just returned...”

CONCRETE: Ha! Right there in front of everybody... Gyft: Yeah, first lyric. And music was cool, but if I could make three or four times what I was making on a show [selling drugs], I wasn’t gonna give that up. There were times when I’d be walking into a club with stuff on me. Or I may be walking to the stage talking on my phone setting something up. The amount I was making from a show... you wouldn’t even call me with that amount of money... not until you could put something else with it. When you’ve become that successful, it’s hard to walk away from the lifestyle unless you find something else that can completely take you away from it. CONCRETE: Well, you’re here talking to me now, so what changed? Gyft: Like a lot of people already know, I had a son – my first born. I’ve been blessed so far, but I want to be sure that I can be around to raise him. That was, by far, the most important reason I walked away. I also see this as my opportunity to be able to share my story. I have family and close friends who still don’t know this part of my life. CONCRETE: Speaking of family – how did you go from your lifestyle growing up in a two-parent, stable home to selling drugs? Gyft: I said it before – I’ve always hustled. By hustle, I mean the same way you are told to hustle in sports. Work hard for what you want. I spent a little while living in New York. While I was there, I learned to get things – legal things, clothes, shoes, whatever – for a low price and sell it in Memphis at a markup. I did that very well. I was good at buying product low and flipping it - or getting other people to flip it - for a profit. I ended up buying a brand new truck in Memphis and driving it back to New York. I’ll never forget a friend of mine saying “You can make a lot of money driving.” I knew exactly what he was talking about instantly. That wasn’t me though, so I kept it moving. A month later, he said it again. This time, I got more details. After my very first time making a run, I was addicted. It was too easy. CONCRETE: So you couldn’t walk away? Gyft: I couldn’t. I ended up moving to Houston where I knew a few people who had been established for years. They showed me the ropes. They showed me that it was more to this life than the glamour that other rappers try to sell to these kids. Once I saw that side of it – the real side of it – there was no way that I could rap about the lifestyle and glamorize it. 29


CONCRETE Memphis - 21  

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