What's yo favorite color? If you answered "orange," you must recognize the question as the title of Memphis' latest hit record by J. Rock & Noon, aka rap group Da Volunteers.
"The song," explains J. Rock, "has actually been out for three years. We dropped it on our last album, Gunz and Rozes, three years ago. Then DJ Sound gave me a track, and the hook came back to me. We dropped the verse over it and put it back out. We put out a mix tape, Da Bandwagon, in Atlanta and Alabama, then brought it back to Memphis. By then, it was crazy."
Last April, Orange Mound's own Marlon Jermaine Goodwin, half of the veteran rap duo 8Ball & MJG, heard the track and got on board, helping Da Volunteers shoot a video and prepare 16 more songs for an upcoming album, also called What's Yo Favorite Color?, which will be co-released by 8 Ways/MJG Muzik and Teers Entertainment on October 31st.
"Noon and I both grew up in Orange Mound, in the Oakview Apartments on Kimball. We slept in bunk beds together, and we've been rapping together for 12 years. About seven years ago, we decided to get serious," J. Rock says.
He claims that their upcoming album will yield 12 singles and pegs "Simon Said," which is already getting airplay on Hot 107.1-FM, as the next hit.
Questioned about the national success of "What's Yo Favorite Color?" -- a song about a Memphis neighborhood -- J. Rock confidently says, "They've made songs about Harlem, Compton, and Atlanta. We love those songs, and now we're teaching them about where we're from. Just like we can relate, they can relate to what's going on in our neighborhood. In Knoxville, where they've got the whole orange thing and the Volunteer theme going on, we expect to sell 40,000 copies of the album. When we go there, we want it to be pandemonium.
"We're working the next single in Memphis, but 'Favorite Color' is just breaking down markets outside the region," says J. Rock. "We're dropping the record as an independent, but we're also hoping a major might wanna come on board. There are already a lot of offers on the table."
Da Volunteers will be celebrating the release of What's Yo Favorite Color? at the Red Apple Lounge (inside the Knight's Inn at Airways and Democrat) on Friday, November 3rd. For more information, go to www.DaVolunteers.com.
Memphis or die: With encouragement
"When [outsiders] look at Memphis, they don't see a movement going on within the city like they do in Houston or Atlanta," says Walker. "The Memphis scene is so segregated. I thought it was time to step up to the plate and bring everyone together. There's strength in numbers, and we all have the same common goal, which is getting the Memphis hip-hop game to the next level."
Walker has spent the last six months compiling Memphis or Die, a CD/DVD project which features interviews, music videos, and performance footage, as well as hit singles from dozens of local players.
"When people see the DVD and listen to the music, they oughta see that we're ready for the majors," says Walker, who plans to send copies to every A&R department in New York and L.A. His benefit? Nuclear Records has artist deals worked out with many of the project's participants, much like the contract he brokered between Westwood rapper Kavious and Virgin Records. (Expect Kavious' major-label debut in March 2007, Walker says.)
Walker claims to have already moved 75,000 copies of Memphis or Die in pre-orders. The project will hit stores November 28th. Mark your calendars two weeks earlier, because starting November 15th, local rap fans can receive free CDs and DVDs for a limited time by logging onto www.MemphisOrDie.com.