MEMPHIS JELKS – MIXING DOWN UNIVERSAL CELEBRATION WITH “DRAFT DAY”
The very talented and hardworking Hip Hop artist from Tennessee, Memphis Jelks, talks about “Draft Day,” his new single for the compilation album, “Full Court,” his other sports single, “Swamp Ball,” his upcoming self-titled album, “Memphis Jelks,” and his current project with the Smithsonian.
The SPITslam Group (Kate G):Memphis, your newest project is coming up with a song for the new Spencer Haywood soundtrack, “Full Court.” [For those who don’t know, Spencer Haywood is a Hall of Fame basketball player who was responsible for changing the eligibility rules for the NBA.] Tell us about this project and what you are doing with it.
Memphis Jelks: Thanks again for having me. It's truly an honor. First of all, I want to say thanks, again to Mr. Chuck D and my label, the SPITslam Group for creating another avenue for me to be heard. Also, special thanks to Mr. Spencer Haywood for being the stand-up guy that he is and his contributions that led to changing the world of basketball for the better. Currently, I am mixing down "Draft Day”, which is the song that we will be releasing for the soundtrack. It's featuring my brother, and longtime collaborator/confidant, Q-Bol. Together, with our other brother, Kilo Slang, we're "The Jelks Boys". Q and I both contributed to producing the beat, and we wrote our own verses, as usual, and collaborated on writing the chorus. I'm extremely excited for the world to hear "Draft Day" because it is a universal celebration that can relate to any sport or entertainment genre. It's about progression and taking the responsibility of creating your own destiny.
The SPITslam Group: When you have to create a song for something specific like a movie or show, what goes into that process?
Memphis Jelks: Procrastination. Lol...JK! But I'm the guy who wants the ball when we're down by 2 points with 5 seconds on the clock in the 4th quarter. Even if I don't get the ball, I still want it. I work better under pressure. So sometimes, if someone gives me a deadline of say 3 to 4 weeks to submit my music for a project, I purposely wait until like almost the 3rd week and then I go with what I feel at the moment. To me, that since of urgency elevates the record 100 times more. You can hear it in the beats and you can hear it in the vocals. It's urgent. But during the previous weeks, I study hard. I study the person who's over the project, I study the project itself, I study myself...lol...to see what it is that I can bring to the project that will be genuine, from the heart and original. With this particular project, I reached out to my brother Q-Bol and he immediately started working on the beat. I went to his studio one night and he played the beat and I started freestyling the hook. At some point, he brought the beat over to my studio and recorded his verse. To me, he set the bar high as hell! I was like, "damn...now I gotta really write"...lol. We've always done that, though. Whoever does the first verse, it sets the bar for the entire song. We don't compete with each other, we compete with the song, if that makes any sense.
The SPITslam Group: Yes, it’s the song that drives it. You worked on “Swamp Ball,” another basketball song with Chuck, tell us about that song and how it came to be.
Memphis Jelks: Mr. Chuck, to me, is the greatest of all time, period. He inspired 2 Pac. And my music is highly influenced by both of them. So when Mr. Chuck tweeted me about making a song for my hometown NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies, and offered to do the hook, I was completely blown away! It still shocks me to this day when I hear "Swamp Ball", that it's actually Mr. Chuck on the record with me. I feel truly blessed. Like 5 seconds after I received the tweet, I made the beat, wrote and recorded the song in one night and sent it to Mr. Chuck. The next morning, when I woke up, I had a text message on my phone that said Mr. Chuck's vocals had been sent. I jumped out of bed like it was Christmas day and literally ran to my studio, downloaded the vocals, put them in Pro Tools, played it back and started jumping up and down as if I had just received the number one gift on my Christmas list! Lol! That's what it was...Christmas! And it still is. Shout out to Mr. Chuck, because he made my dream come true and continues to do so through The Spit Slam Label Group. I'm forever indebted.
The SPITslam Group: Besides the Spencer Haywood project, what other things are you working on?
Memphis Jelks: Good question, Kate G. I'm working on my second album to be released on SpitDigital. It's set to drop sometime in July, 2016. Also, I'm working with my good friend and one of my favorite photographers/videographers Kunjal Pathak (google him) on the video for "Memphis. Jelks" from my album "Memphis Jelks". Please excuse the selfish plug but please go support that album at Rcsmusic.com. You will not regret it and that's a promise. Besides that, I'm just grinding...doing every live event and making every appearance that I feel fit to benefit the label and myself. There's nothing magical about it, besides the music. It's about hard work, dedication and more hard work and more dedication. And just when you think you've put in some hard work, you better be dedicated, because it doesn't happen overnight.
The SPITslam Group: I heard there was a song you were doing for a Lead Belly project. Tell us about it?
Memphis Jelks: Again, I want to thank my label, the SPITslam Group for yet another opportunity. It's an honor to be a part of something that means so much historically. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would get a chance to work with Mr. Chuck D and Grammy Award winning artist, Dan Zanes, on a project that will reach kids and others worldwide. Much love to The Smithsonian Folkways, as well. This will be a fun project and I hope it reaches the moon and back. I'm always excited to inspire the youth on a positive level and this is the perfect avenue to do just that.
The SPITslam Group:Anything else you want to add?
Memphis Jelks: I just want to ask the people reading to please continue to be patient with me and keep checking for my music and endeavors in the near future. I am nothing without my fans. Even if you never hear me on the radio or see me on television, please know that I have your best interests at heart when I'm creating music and digital content, and I won't let you down. God Bless and PEace!
Kate G is Kate Gammell for Update Reports on The SPITdigital SLAMjamz Recording Label Group