This picture (above) of Yo Gotti and DJ Paul (of Three 6 Mafia) appeared on Instagram a few days ago. Now, to the untrained eye, this just looks like another photo of some rappers taking a picture for Instagram. But for the city of Memphis, this picture is very powerful.
It is well-documented that Yo Gotti & Three 6 Mafia had animosities in the past that surfaced in many different tracks. Yo Gotti's "That's What's Up" stated: "What up Three 6/ know you don't like me (well, f*** yaaaa)..." while Three 6 Mafia's DJ Paul kept the disses alive on the "Stay Fly (Remix)" saying:
"DJ Paul/ it's official the king of the town/Some clown tried to grab my crown/ I hit him made him put it down/I represent the "M"/And I do it better than him/Or her or them/On CD and on film/"
So, it's been plenty of random shots between both camps until this picture. Even the caption under it says it all:
@djpaulkom @yogottikom Its a new day in Memphis! We r officially a city united for once n for all! No more hatred against our 901 brothers,lets show the world where tha sound of music these days come from! M Town Stand Up!!!!! #DirtySouth
But, to know where you're going...you DEFINITELY have to know where you've been so ThaOvaground.com is here to provide an audiovisual guide to the conflicts & beefs that molded some of our best Memphis emcees to date.
First, up...Three 6 Mafia vs. Yo Gotti
When Yo Gotti first came on the scene around 1999-2000, this was in the middle of Three 6 Mafia's run with Relativity Records. Yo Gotti's first album was From Da Rap Game 2 Da Dope Game and he was already being touted as the next big thing in Memphis rap.
Three 6 Mafia up to that point had a gold record from their Chapter 2: World Domination album in 1997 and this was right before their platinum-album When The Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1.
What was the ultimate cause of the beef? Paul's and Gotti's proclamation (and subsequent war of words) over this phrase: The King of Memphis.
The first mention (or non-mention at least) from Yo Gotti was on his second album, Life on the song "Entering The Game". In the second verse, Yo Gotti said, "...so much respect for the "M"/ I ain't gone say I'm the king/ I'ma leave it to the fans if you know what I mean." It was a very humble approach from an upstart emcee that was paying homage to the long legacy of emcees in Memphis rap history but leaving the door open for himself to get to their level one day. You can't really hate that.
Somewhere along the line, Gotti's star continued to rise from his Life album and his subsequent compliation album The Blackout Squad. But once Gotti dropped his DJ Drama-assisted Gangsta Grillz, I Told U So, it was no denying it: he was claiming the title which was shown by the mixtape interlude titled "Real King Of Memphis."
Now, Three 6 Mafia's star was not only rising but at a certain point besides them and Eightball & MJG, it seemed like it was no other artists in the running for a major look in Memphis. DJ Paul continued with his campaign of him too claiming that he was the KING OF MEMPHIS as shown in his 2002 release, Underground Vol. 16: For Da Summa album. In the intro of the track "Back Da F*** Back", Paul fired back at everyone who questioned his reign as King and even stated that he taught half of these rappers "...how to rap on beat."
Amongst this tension were other members of Three 6 Mafia taking direct aim at Yo Gotti. One member, Crunchy Black took to the airwaves in a different form to take aim at anybody doubting Paul's reign as King of Memphis. It was aired on Joe Gotti's (no relation to Yo Gotti) public access television program called UGTV and it was as scathing as any rap battle. Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that with public disses like this being thrown between these camps, nothing good would come out of this. Conventional wisdom is always correct.
Rumors of shooting stemming from this beef along with other barbs kept on coming but then something happened. A collaboration. Zed Zilla released "Memphis Sh**" featuring DJ Paul AND Yo Gotti. Could this be true???
Any Memphis rap fan know that this was a big as a collaboration as 8Ball & MJG's assist on Three 6 Mafia's hit single "Stay Fly". But, where that song had significance because it was 2 OG's from the same era hopping on a track together, you rarely saw in Memphis rap history an OG & an upcoming OG from a different era collaborate on a track. Gotti has collaborated with other Three 6 Mafia members & affiliates like Juicy J on DJ Drama's "4 What", and again with Juicy J on Memphis emcee Don Trip's "The Life" and Gangsta Boo "Back 2 Da Basics."
So, seeing DJ Paul & Yo Gotti together has a truly new way of thinking for alot of emcees coming out especially from Memphis. In ancient Egypt, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt was unified by Menes. I assumed that that pharoh figured out that for a kingdom to be truly powerful it has to united as one.
Also, just because one man (or woman) calls him or herself king or queen, that doesn't mean that a city can't have more than one king or queen. Obviously, everyone can't be royalty in that respect but that doesn't mean that what an artist bring to the table shouldn't be respected. Even Pimp C stated at the end of the track "I'm Straight" on T.I's King album that "...the South has a lot of Kings [and] if you're doing King sh*t, then you are a king."
No truer words have been said.