It's shaping up to be a good year for the local rap scene: Memphian Scott Bomar just wrapped two days of scoring for Craig Brewer's upcoming film Hustle & Flow at Ardent's Studio A. The film's plot follows a pimp who wants to make it in the music biz, and while rappers Al Kapone, Yo Gotti, and Juicy J contributed to the soundtrack, it's been up to Bomar, a producer and bassist, to compose the score.
"There have been a few movies that have used Impala songs," Bomar says, refering to his previous band, which landed songs in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and The Way of the Gun. "But it was always frustrating, because I wanted to write an original score instead of using old songs." He credits Brewer and producers John Singleton and Stephanie Allain for giving him the opportunity with Hustle & Flow.
"They brought in a music editor, Shie Rozow, to come in before the session to help us go through all the charts and get the timing down to the second," Bomar says, adding, "I've been working on this since last summer. When Craig was shooting, he'd give me dailies, and I'd write off them. Then in Los Angeles, we got together with the music supervisor, Paul Stewart, to talk and throw some ideas around. Back in Memphis, whenever I got a piece done, I'd post it to a server so everyone could hear it. The last time I went to L.A., I got to see the movie on the big screen, which helped.
"John and Craig really wanted a '70s blaxploitation feel -- movies like Truck Turner, Shaft, and The Mack, so I referenced a lot of Bobby Womack, Willie Hutch, Quincy Jones, and Isaac Hayes," Bomar explains. He assembled several musicians from the Stax roster, including keyboardist Marvell Thomas and trumpeter Ben Cauley, as well as guitarist Skip Pitts and drummer Willie Hall, also alumni of the Stax label and members of Bomar's own group, The Bo-Keys. Trumpeter Marc Franklin (who helped write the horn charts), percussionist Hector Diaz, and saxophonists Kirk Smothers and Derek Williams also played on the sessions, which yielded 28 minutes of music for the film.
"I got the real people who played this stuff originally," Bomar says. "I wanted to write something that people would want to sample. I want the rap guys to say, 'Man, I want that beat. I want that guitar part.'"
The powers that be at the Southern Entertainment Awards have announced their 2005 nominations, which can be viewed at SouthernEntAwards.com. Many Memphians are included in the mix, which spotlights urban performers in the Southern region ranging from Houston to Atlanta, Miami to Nashville. Heavy hitters like Three 6 Mafia and Playa Fly have received nods, alongside newcomer Chopper Girl, who is up against La Chat in the Female Mix Tape category. Meanwhile, Tom Skeemask, Kavious, and Criminal Manne are battling it out for Artist of the Year against rappers such as Houston's Chamillionaire and Atlanta's Crime Mob.
The Southern Entertainment Conference and Awards Show will be held in Nashville January 21st-23rd. "We had over 700 attendees this year, including Memphians like Devin Steele, Yo Gotti, and Freddy Hydro," says coordinator Janiro Hawkins II, who stages the event with Jesse Johnson, aka DJ Infamous, under the aegis of Hang 'Em High Productions.
Stressing the networking possibilities at the conference, Hawkins notes that "an artist is available to talk to, mingle with, and exchange information with more than 200 DJs from across the South at our conference. We host people from as far away as Texas, the Carolinas, and Miami. The South is really being recognized as a force right now," Hawkins continues, pointing to Memphis' own Three 6 Mafia, Atlanta's Lil Jon, and Virginia Beach's Timbaland as heavy hitters in the industry.
Meanwhile, the folks at MemphisRap.com are gearing up for their Urban Music Showcase, also scheduled for early 2005. "We have 22 acts scheduled, including two R&B groups, one female R&B/rap group, three female singers, and 16 rappers," says M-Town Luv, the driving force behind the Web site.
The artists are competing for more than $10,000 in prize packages, including a recording deal with Memphis Records, a video shoot with 901 Entertainment, and a spot on a MemphisRap.com compilation album, scheduled for release later next year. Sony's urban division is sponsoring the event, which is simultaneously taking place in other markets across the U.S. "Surprisingly, we got some people from Kentucky, Illinois, and Alabama, as well as Mississippi and Arkansas," says M-Town Luv. "They had showcases in the cities they were coming from, but they preferred to audition in Memphis." n