my homie Rerog just turned me on to this amazing mix of rap from the early 90’s coming out of the Orange Mound neighborhood of Memphis, TN. Before this, i only knew of Orange Mound from 8 Ball & MJG (one my favorite rap groups of all time) constantly reppin’ it in their songs. It turns out that Orange Mound was the first all black neighborhood in America, developed by black folks on an old plantation in the 1890s. At its peak, it was the largest concentration of blacks in the US outside of Harlem, the largest concentration of black home owners anywhere in America, and was a vibrant neighborhood well into the 1970’s, despite having unpaved roads. Like many thriving black neighborhoods in the US, economic decline, and the spread of crack-cocaine ravaged Orange Mound in the 80’s. Gang violence, and crime took over, slowly destroying the struggling community into the 90’s. Though Orange Mound has started to get it’s feet back on the ground in the last few years, there was an exciting rap scene that emerged from the dark days of the 80’s and 90’s. Though 8 Ball & MJG were the only artists from Orange Mound to achieve national notoriety, there was clearly a lot more going on in this community.

I have been in contact with the host of this mix to find out more about the artists and the collector who compiled them, but till then, i encourage you to check out these tracks. Every song is super lo-fi (most sound like 4-track tape demos), and aside from a few familiar names (Dj Paul & Gangsta Blac), i have never heard of any of these folks. Having come up in both the worlds of southern rap, and lo-fi american indie rock, it is easy to forget that these scenes have more in common than we think. Though i am not trying to compare the struggles of these folks growing up in Orange Mound with the life of a young Calvin Johnson growing up in Olympia, Wa…there is something amazing about listening to the crackly 4-track demos from ANY artist stuck in a rut, so desperate to create, produce, or simply get their voice heard.

Go here to download this amazing little time capsule:

thanks again to Rerog for turning me on to this, and thanks to Gordon from for being so prompt in answering my absurd questions. be sure to explore their whole site! It is an amazing catalogue.

And if you don’t know 8 Ball & MJG, (you probably have heard them, without even knowing it) i encourage you to check out the album “Living Legends”, perhaps the song “straight cadillac pimpin”, which is one of my favorite rap songs of all time. The album “Space Age 4 Eva” is considered their classic, but i, personally think “Living Legends” is a better intro to their work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close