Memphis is having another hip-hop resurgence, but it’s the city’s past influence on culture that is once again finding its way into the mainstream.
While GloRilla has captured much of the national attention from Grind City, and rightfully so with her precocious rhymes and boisterous nature, those in it who are big fans of the more horrorcore lane have named Duke Deuce as one of their biggest saviors.
The Whitehaven native, otherwise known as The Deucifer for his dark, often occult-inspired rhymes and hard-knocking melodies that harken back to a time when Three 6 Mafia and others helped Memphis become one of Hip Hop’s most successful hubs, was originally put on the map for his anthems like “Whole Lotta” and “Crunk Ain’t Dead” – the former of which helped him ink a record deal.
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“Migos was real big in my come up. I remember when my song ‘Whole Lotta” was going crazy, that’s around the time that Offset reached out to me,” he remembers. “They was in the club and s**t doing the dance to the song that I used to do to the song. Supporting me and s**t like that. You know, and I appreciate that.”
And on his latest project drop, Memphis Massacre 3, it’s those elements of his hometown’s past that creep into the October 28-released mixtape. The eerie, haunting refrains that sprinkle into the tracklist, which coincidentally features exclusively Memphis-based artists, are coupled with aggressive and dark lyrics from Deuce and his cohorts like GlocKiana and Big Moochie Grape.
Perhaps the best example of this is his track “WHAT YOU REP”, which features DJ Paul and could be considered an homage to “Live By Yo Rep” and other songs from Three 6’s debut LP Mystic Stylez from 1995. Deuce says that not only was its inspiration, but the lo-fi, haunting underground tapes from Triple Six, Gangsta Pat, and other pioneers from decades ago, are sonically what he tries to emulate.
“That's how an album would have sounded back in the day, a mixtape out of Memphis back in the ‘90s. You would’ve got straight Memphis artists on the songs and stuff like that. It just made the s**t so much more authentic and feel so real and original to keep it Memphis all the way through,” Duke notes about his latest project drop. “Honestly, the run Memphis has going is crazy right now in the game. So I feel like this just kind of put everybody in a position where it's like, okay, it's time to go hard.”
Deuce’s Quality Control Music signing also connected him to members of Migos over the past few years, including Takeoff, who was tragically killed during the early morning hours of November 1 during a party at a bowling alley in Houston. When asked about his interactions with the rapper, who eventually became part of the duo Unc and Phew with his uncle Quavo, the Memphis rapper recalled how he received personal love from him.
“Every time I was around Takeoff it was good vibes. He was a positive guy. He the type of guy that wasn't afraid to tell you he loves you,” he explains. “That made me feel a way when he told me that he loved me. I felt I was still kind of new around [everyone] but I wasn't at the same time. But you know, a lot of m********s don't show that type of love all the time so I appreciated that.”
As for where a lot of his initial musical inspiration came from, it was actually his father Duke Nitty who would take a young Deuce to the studio at an early age. From there, their bond remained strong, even so much that Nitty produced the songs “Open Up” and “I’m Alive Again” from the younger Duke’s sophomore album CRUNKSTAR in June of this year.
“I just feel like I picked up on everything. I'm a music genius already. I feel like this s**t was already a part of me but just seeing his work ethic was a major lesson,” Deuce says of being in the studio with his father during his adolescence. “I think I was like what five maybe six? He used to let me make beats and s**t like that. I just kind of picked up on everything.”
If Memphis Massacre 3 is any indication, Duke Deuce is set to go on a run – something he says is already in the works. Fans can expect more music and touring from the Memphis rapper very soon.
“I ain’t waiting around. I'm finna constantly drop back to back to back to back – whether it's singles or whatever,” he says. “Just know Duke Deuce ain’t letting up. It's gonna be more comin’. You know what I'm saying I'm gonna keep this shit up [laughs].”
You can steam Memphis Massacre 3 here.