To many, Memphis hip-hop means the legendary club-stomping fight rap of Three Six Mafia. To those with a little deeper knowledge, maybe it means the smoothed-out pimp tales of Eightball & MJG. All of this makes Memphis rapper Gavin Mays, better known as Cities Aviv, something of an anomaly in his hometown. He has as much in common with the city’s garage rock history via Jay Reatard as he does hip-hop. To wit, Mays’ previous musical endeavor was screaming and thrashing about in a hardcore group called Cop Watch.
His raps are aggressively traditional and unabashedly poetic, but his noise-rock roots give tales of love, anger, and aspiration an oddball angularity.