Tommy Wright III started rapping and producing as a teenager in 1990s Memphis, working with then-unknown artists who’d eventually plant the Tennessee city on the hip-hop map through groups including Three 6 Mafia. But Wright remained decidedly underground, peddling tapes stuffed with homemade beats and murderous, motormouth raps via his own Street Smart Records. Eventually, a series of jail stints derailed his career, creating doubt that his name would resound outside of Memphis.
Instead, Wright has in recent years been name-checked by Lil B and Kreayshawn, Lil Ugly Mane and A$AP Rocky—a generation of artists grinding online claim the regional legend as a spiritual forebear. He’s also found an audience in modern punk and skate scenes; Goner Records, the flagship Memphis garage-rock label, has booked the artist at its eponymous annual festival. And Wright is seizing on the resurgence, appearing in bars and venues associated with the DIY touring circuit nationwide.
Hence Wright's performance Friday, Oct. 12, at venerable Oakland dive Eli's Mile High Club, with openers Cult Days and Jaji Preme. Find more details here.