Gus Carrington

Reporter Gus Carrington won in the arts and entertainment category. Carrington wrote a tribute to B.B. King, who died last year. His story gets to how the blues legend changed music, and why he still matters.

While students have been sharing excitement about the student activity council’s tweet announcing that Tory Lanez and Rae Sremmurd are the headliners for the April 23 Spring Fling, it’s important to note this year’s festival is lacking something previous U of M Spring Flings have happily provided: local artists opening the show.

In the past, excellent Memphian performers like The Star Killers (now Forrister), Bluff City Soul Collective, Space Face and The Passport (now AIRSIDE) have shared the bill with headliners like Big Sean, The Weeks, ILOVEMAKONNEN and Ty Dolla $ign.

Do the indie stylings of Forrister sound anything like the inspirational boasts of Big Sean Don? Probably not, but genre-diversity definitely made past Spring Flings feel like a full-package music festival and opening up for chart-topping artists is always something local bands can put on their resumes.

Let us not forget Forrister front woman Julien Baker’s recent solo success and how her New York Times-reviewed album “Sprained Ankle” is bringing Memphis attention.

Despite any initial fears I had with the U of M Spring Fling lineup, it seems this change may actually be for the best. Delta Vibe, the student music planning committee, is hosting a separate music festival on April 16 called Ascendence Fest: The First Installment.

It features all local acts including IMAKEMADBEATS, Rudy Rhymer, Zuster, The Band Camino and Matt Lucas.

If you don’t recognize any of those names, and you consider yourself a fan of music, I urge you to attend this event, particularly for the hip-hop front.

While I myself wouldn’t mind bobbin’ my head to Rae Sremmurd’s “Throw Sum Mo” and seeing what Tory Lanez has to offer, I can particularly attest that Rudy Rhymer and Matt Lucas are both inspiringly capable emcees who reside right here in the Bluff City.

I’m not saying it won’t feel nice to yell “I AIN’T GOT NO TYPE” in unison with a huge crowd in front of the UC. I’m saying you could do that, but the week before, catch our very own U of M history major Rudolph Swansey spit “Come and stay for a second, minute, hour.

This ain’t nothing but a challenge, This ain’t nothing but a color, we could add to the pallet of the portrait that we paint.

We could put it in our palace. So let’s go get active, and let’s stop all this malice.” The guy has flow. So does Matt Lucas, whose appearances at separate campus events have on occasion featured him wearing a straw hat and overalls. He’s a character and a very capable lyricist.

IMAKEMADBEAT’s set is sure to feature some danceable instrumentals, and if you haven’t seen his various stickers around campus, you must not have your eyes open.

I’m curious about Ascendence on April 16, and I feel more U of M students should be curious about it, too.

Sure, it’s exciting Tory Lanez and Rae Sremmurd will be playing their respective hits for Spring Fling, but when it comes to impressive festival performances, I think it is of dire importance that students support Memphian artists too.

These performers have the chops to entertain a festival crowd, and it would be a shame to overlook this event simply because it isn’t attached to a couple big names.

Rappers like Rudy Rhymer could easily be Tory Lanez and then some. Memphis music has soul.

These local artists deserve a good turnout, and in the event they don’t get one, I’d like to point at awesome music festivals, turn to Memphis students and proceed to quote Rae Sremmurd... “This could be us but you playin.”

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