8Ball & MJG: ‘It’s the culture. It’s the time.’ Memphis music and Grizzlies highlight the Grind City

Legendary hip-hop duo 8Ball and MJG on how the rise of Grizzlies basketball and Memphis music is giving the city the recognition it deserves.
Updated: Jun. 6, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Grizzlies in the NBA Playoffs highlighted some of the best things about the Grind City. The people, basketball and Memphis hip-hop.

“It’s the culture. It’s the time,” said legendary Memphis rapper, MJG. One half of game-changing duo 8Ball and MJG. They started out in the 90s and have seen Memphis go through it all. They also helped put the city and it’s music on the map.

“Memphis, Orange Mound, Memphis, Tennessee. It’s going down,” MJG said. “Take it all around the world. We’re very prideful. It’s like Memphis, to us, they way we express it to other people, is like another planet.”

8Ball and MJG use music to describe Memphis. The Core Four showed it on the court during the Grit ‘N Grind era. Grizz Next Gen did the same in the post-season.

“People were able to see, you know, how talented we actually were and I felt like we opened a lot of eyes,” Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant said.

According to both 8Ball and MJG, and Grizzlies players, there’s more parallels between Memphis music and basketball than it may seem.

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. described it as, “A match made it heaven.”

According to 8Ball, “Hip-hop has always been the movement of the game. Ever since they added putting that kind of music live in games, with the DJs, it’s been the movement of the game. With the players, I think they have more input. Now you know. When you used to see a young cat going to the court with the headphones on, what’s he listening to? Now you know because they’re playing it now, at all the games and stuff.”

Especially in Memphis, where basketball and hip-hop are at the top of the ranks. Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo has the number one album. He also just released the hit, “Rookie of the Year” based on Ja Morant. “I think it’s good for the city. The music, Moneybagg number one album in the country, Grizzlies in the playoffs at the same time, it’s like excellent,” 8Ball said. “It’s good for the city. It all goes together.”

“I mean, especially in this city, it’s theme songs around here,” Jaren Jackson Jr. added. “A lot of stuff you hear played in our locker room is pretty much played in every locker room in America. And now you see a lot of Memphis rappers are blowing up. They’re like worldwide. They’re like global. It’s just big.”

Grizzlies guard, De’Anthony Melton, who’s a West Coast guy said, “I think Memphis has done a great job of shouting us out and we are always playing Memphis rappers’ music in our warm ups and stuff like that. I think it goes hand-in-hand.”

Even artists outside of Memphis are catching on to what’s going on in the city. J. Cole shouted out Ja Morant in his new song “m y . l i f e” and gave Grizzlies fans a new motto with the line, “I’m on my Grizzly.”

There’s a good chance more and more lines like that will pop up as the Grizzlies have become the new up-and-coming team in the NBA.

“That’s how we’re going to win as a city, is together. And it’s just an extra plus that multiple people can win at the same time, I think it’s a good thing” MJG said. “It’s time for Memphis, it’s time.”

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