Many say the City of Memphis has always been a hotbed for young musical artists.
A large group of students gathered outside the Communications and Fine Arts building Tuesday night to see one of these artists, Academy Award-winning emcee and Memphis native Frayser Boy, as he rehearsed with student musicians in preparation for the upcoming This is Memphis music festival.
This is Memphis will be held Oct. 2 at the Levitt Shell amphitheater in Overton Park at 7 p.m. and will be free to the public. The Levitt Shell has hosted many Memphis artists over the years, including Elvis Presley. Sunday’s official lineup includes Kyndle McMahan, Drew Erwin, Aaron James and The Band CAMINO, who recently reached 100,000 plays on Spotify and also made the Viral Top 50 list. Rapper Frayser Boy had high praise for these local artists.
“They’re the future,” he said. “I been around in the game for a minute, and it’s cool to see these guys and a lot of other talent from the city try and make a name for themselves.”
Cedric Coleman, known in the music world as Frayser Boy, first made a name for himself with Juicy J and DJ Paul, who discovered him. After promoting the Memphis-based group Three Six Mafia, Paul asked him to record a song.
“It all just sort of fell into place for me,” he said. “It was really just a case of being at the right place at the right time. I remember after recording with Paul and Juicy, everything just sort of took off from there.”
After signing under label Hypnotized Minds, Frayser Boy released his debut album entitled “Gone on That Bay” in 2003. He then released two other projects under the label. However, during that time period, he is best known for writing the song “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” for the movie “Hustle and Flow,” released in 2005. He, along with DJ Paul and Juicy J, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song with the track at the 78th Academy Awards. Frayser Boy still can’t believe the accomplishment.
“It’s just a blessing to be associated with it,” he said. “It was just a surreal feeling when we won. Till this day I still can’t believe it. I’m just happy to be a part of something that was so great.”.
Nowadays, Frayser Boy has since left the Hypnotized Minds Label and is planning to start his own label called Bar Muzik.
“We have a lot of talented artists that we’re looking at,” he said. “Can’t release any names yet, but most of the artists are local artists from the city. We don’t mind expanding and looking at other cities for more talent, but right now it’s mainly Memphis-based.”
Jesse Zweiner is a sound engineer at the U of M-based label Blue Tom records. He said he loves being a part of the preparations for the upcoming This is Memphis festival, where Frayser Boy is scheduled to feature.
“Even though I just got started here this semester, everyone has been welcoming,” he said. “Its awesome seeing these guys perform. We have a lot of really good artists coming out, so it should be a great show.”
Grace Hamm is currently the president of Blue Tom records. She said the preparation for the festival is entirely student-based.
“Everything from stage production, lighting and marketing is entirely run by the students,” she said. “It really gives everyone great on-the-job training and hands-on experience. The only adult help we had was our professor Ben Yonas.”
Hamm said Yonas was the one who reached out to Frayser Boy about working with the young artists at Blue Tom records.
“He really liked what we were doing,” Hamm said. “This is something that we feel is very important to our students, and we were glad that he could help us.”