The true genius of Memphis music has always been our willingness to mix and match. A show tonight in a Downtown alley proves that tendency is alive and well.
"We keep it fresh by following this one idea: If it doesn’t intimidate us, we didn’t think big enough," says IMAKEMADBEATS, mastermind of the Unapologetic label. "Every show we throw, we try to do something we’ve never seen or done before. We try to scare ourselves with our own ideas, and then we take the necessary steps to make it happen. The adrenaline alone pushes us somewhere new in each show."
Goner Records co-owner Zach Ives says when he was approached by the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) about scheduling a show, he thought it was a great idea.
"I love what [IMAKEMADBEATS] is doing over there," Ives said. "We’ve met up and talked some over the past year. Nice to share experiences. While our avenues are different, there are plenty of similarities. We are both doing it our own way and figuring it out as we go along."
Both Goner and Unapologetic follow in the Memphis tradition of independent record labels making and selling the music they want to hear, and then creating the audience for it.
In the case of Goner, Ives and his partner, Eric Friedl (aka Eric Oblivian), that music is the raw, rootsy garage punk that emerged from the Antenna and Barrister's scene of the 80s and 90s.
For Unapologetic, it's cutting edge hip hop.
"I really believe people value sincerity and vulnerability in music over everything else," says IMAKEMADBEATS. "I think things like genre and other divisions come second to those things.
"These kinds of shows are great for us for the obvious reasons of getting in front of new people with open minds, but also because people like the good folks at Goner understand pushing boundaries and creating the kinds of atmospheres that allow people to be unapologetically themselves.
"Beyond the music, shows like these are great for the people, how they feel there, and the kinds of minds they’ll meet there. It’s great for community."
Ives says after the initial conversation with Unapologetic, "One thing we both agreed on, our different parts of the music community don’t interact enough. This seemed like a good opportunity to try and correct that."
The show will kick off around quitting time on Thursday, July 12th with Unapologetic rapper PreauXX and wunderkind producer Kid Maestro.
"There are few people as naturally talented as PreauXX," says IMAKEMADBEATS. "[He] can go anywhere and share the stage with anyone and be a showstopper."
New Orleans-based retro-synth wizard Benni will echo his spacey vibes through the Downtown cityscape.
"The Unapologetic guys are super into Benni, so it was a no-brainer!" says Ives. "They demanded it! Also, he has a new record about to come out next month, so it made sense to get him back up and fill Downtown with new space sounds. It also felt like a good transition with the Unapologetic artists."
Unapologetic R&B sensation Cameron Bethany will lend his smooth, emotive voice to the chorus.
"Cameron found me, actually," says IMAKEMADBEATS. "We’d met before because someone I was working with in the studio called him in for some background vocals. He told me that he’d kept up with some of the things I was doing with PreauXX years ago.
"One day in 2015, Cameron called me and told me he wanted me to produce a single for him. We met, talked some business and artistic direction, then set a date for him to come and work on the record.
"The music on his Soundcloud page was mostly cover songs and when I’d asked peers about him, a handful mentioned an amazing voice but no one knew what his music sounded like. We started working on his single and after hearing the hook on it, alone, I knew we had something special. Something different. I listened to it on loop after Cam left the studio for almost 3 hours."
Fresh off a sold-out European tour with Superchunk, Memphis punk legends The Oblivians will be joined by New Orleans vocalist Stephanie McDee.
The Oblivians covered McDee's "Call The Police" on their last album, Desperation
"It’s such a party anthem," says Ives. "And her original version is soooo fast! We’ll see if the guys can keep up. Can’t wait to see what happens."
The free show, sponsored by the DMC, begins at 5 p.m. in Barbaro Alley Downtown.