Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer has already proven his affinity for Memphis music, nabbing an Oscar for the Three 6 Mafia [click to read] penned “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp.” Earning notoriety for the critically acclaimed Hustle & Flow as well as the southern gothic film, Black Snake Moan, Brewer has now taken his success to MTV. His new series, $5 Cover, which premiered on May 1, showcases the talent of undiscovered Memphis artists.
HipHopDX recently sat down with the director who talked about the Memphis music scene.
“Memphis has a history of not having a lot of money and not having a lot of tools, but doing a lot with [those limited tools]” he said. “I think it’s that struggle that’s in the music that makes Memphis specific and what makes it special, at least to me. And also, it’s hot, and everybody is kind of dealing with each other’s drama and business, and that gets the creative juices flowing.”
Brewer explained that with many Memphis-based rappers, the struggle lies not in the ability (or lack thereof) to get into the music business, but in the unwillingness of rappers to leave their home city.
“I think there is an attitude in Memphis amongst our rappers and musicians that, yeah they want to get paid and yeah they want a lot of people to listen to their music, but they don’t necessarily want to pick and leave this city. It’s not like they want to go to Hollywood and suddenly leave everything behind. I think we’re just in an age right now where that is more possible.”
With his new MTV show, $5 Cover, Brewer hopes to display the talent of not only rappers, but also other genres of the South.
“When we started off with this project the one concern that there was, was that you know, is it a rock n’ roll show, is it a rap show, is it a country show? It’s not like a music video where it turns into fantasy [or] it’s always in a club. [With $5 Cover] it’s always in a recording studio. I think it’s that presence that we try to exploit more than anything and I think that’s actually why ‘Hard Out Here For a Pimp’ won the Academy Award. I think it’s because they saw it being made in the studio. Whether you like Hip Hop or not you could sit there and go, yeah but I just watched that get constructed right in front of me.” Al Kapone is among the artists featured, which covers several genres.
Brewer’s films fall into the “southern gothic” genre, which is a type of southern genre that focuses on ironic, disturbing, and unusual situations to push the plot. He uses this kind of filmmaking with a blend of Memphis music.
“Hustle and Flow was my rap movie and I wanted it to have a rap feel. I wanted the spirit of the sound to be in the narrative and in the aesthetic. But Black Snake was my Blues movie. And I really do try to zone out with that music and try to get into, and try to shift into that music, with the story lines as well as the aesthetics.”
MTV’s $5 Cover airs Fridays at midnight ET.
Additional Reporting by Jake Paine.