It’s not every day that you see a rap group coming out of South Memphis that’s influenced by rock artists such as The Killers, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. But when you do, you see The Sidewayz.
Composed of Havier “Havi” Green and Salazar “Sal” Diego, the childhood friends have been crafting tunes together since 2009. Thrived with the struggles that the average kid residing within a single parent, low-income household experiences, they’re life stories play a nice balance to the eclectic style they possess on the beat.
“Music has always been the best escape from our upbringing, which wasn’t that fuckin’ good,” says Havi. “It’s pretty bleak growing up in South Memphis. I’ve probably lived in every project in South and North Memphis; I’ve been homeless for a time. You kind of get used to it.…you’ve got to adjust to being where you’re at, but in the inside you know it’s something bigger out there.”
The Sidewayz has released two musical installments independently thus far: 2011’s Endless Summer, a 22-track mixtape in which the group spits clever verses over other artists’ instrumentals, and 2012’s Social Pop Art, a 12-track release that displays the duo’s growth over all original production.
Both mixtapes were well received in Memphis and enabled the duo to perform in front of crowds at such venues as the Hi-Tone, Brinson's, Daily Planet, and the Buccaneer Lounge.
“The response, since we’ve followed our own artistic vision, it’s been pretty well. When people hear it, they automatically recognize it’s something different than what they’re used to,” says Havi. “We’re trying to bring change into something that’s been the same for a long time. We’re trying to grow and do something that’s actually going to break down a lot of barriers and let people know that you can still grow.”
Growth is what the group promises to continue to display with their upcoming mixtape, Art Appreciation. The Sidewayz assures it will be their best offering to date. Shortly after the mixtape release, the group plans to drop their debut album, Goodbye Gods, June 30th exclusively at the Memphis Rehearsal Complex on 296 Monroe Ave.
“Art Appreciation is a continuation of our growth,” says Havi. “Social Pop Art really was our step to try and escape from the rawness of Endless Summer, and this one, we’re trying to blend both of them together.”
Dedicated to their craft, both members dropped out of college to pursue music full-time but their tales are a little different. While Sal attended Southwest Tennessee Community College in the city for a little while, Havi actually received a full scholarship to attend the prestigious and world-renown Vanderbilt University.
Taking a different lane than the average rap artists coming from South Memphis, or the city as a whole for that matter, isn't something The Sidewayz is worried about. The group embraces their uniqueness with open arms and encourages others to try things outside of the norm.
“We never thought about doing what we do and people take it in a negative way,” says Sal. “Like, ‘damn, it sounds different. It’s not cool.’ It’s cool to be different. But you’re taking a chance with anything. The creativity of being an artist is taking chances, because you’re expressing yourself through your art. We know, yeah, we’re from South Memphis and when you listen to most of the music from the area that we come from, you know what to expect. With us, it’s totally different and we take a lot of pride in being an outcast.”