For more than 20 years, Artemis Williams – aka Peppa Mouth of the South – managed to build an empire as one of Mid-South’s most treasured entertainment movers and shakers.
Now the former manager and current business associate of superstar Yo Gotti has completely shaken the Memphis music scene as he gears up for his legendary “Memphis Legends” concert tour.
Memphis Legends, which took two years in the making, will feature some of Memphis’ iconic underground music artists at the Blue Moon Sept. 2.
Coming from humble beginnings
Williams’ love for the music industry began around the time he graduated from White Station High School in 1994. It was during this time he linked with other upcoming party promoters and eventually made himself a household name across the city of Memphis while working for FedEx.
“Not knocking FedEx or anything, but I knew that wasn’t my career choice,” he said.
Coming from a single parent household, Williams knew he had to make a conscious decision on what he wanted to do in life.
“I had watched my mom work day in and day out to make a way for us,” said Williams. “I knew I wanted something more, but what that was, I didn’t know.”
He then planned for mortuary school and his mother paid for a one-way ticket for him to Atlanta. After networking tirelessly, he ran into childhood friend and rapper DJ Paul from Three 6 Mafia, who took an interest in Williams being a manager for the group.
“I had no prior management experience. I was just used to talking and closing deals,” said Williams, who is known for his AK-47 style of talking.
So he quit mortuary school to focus more on talent management. His hard work paid off years later as he accepted a position as vice president of Def Jam South, the Southern region division of Def Jam Recordings. It was then he went back to his Memphis roots and scouted for other artists such as Kingpin Skinny Pimp and Gangsta Blac.
It was around the early 2000s when the single “Shawty” by Yo Gotti caught his attention on the radio.
“When I caught wind of him, I actually went out to North Memphis to get him,” said Williams. “It was tough, but I saw his potential.” Both of their lives have gone into overhaul ever since.
All things legendary
As Williams’ partnership with Yo Gotti continued to grow, so did his drive in community engagement. Around 2015, Williams partnered with Shelby County Schools to focus more on students and community relations.
“We really needed help with getting children more excited about school, and Mr. Williams was right on time with his ideas,” said Shante Avante, chairperson for Shelby County Schools.
Williams created the “Product Of” billboard campaign that highlighted well-known Memphians who graduated from different schools across the Mid-South. Moziah Bridges of Mo’s Bows, Carrie Bernans from the Black Panther movie, Yo Gotti, as well as K97’s Devin Steel were featured in the test run.
“I’ve known Peppa for a long time in this business,” said Steel. “I couldn’t be more proud of the positive changes he’s bringing to the city. It was such a good look.”
The test run was so successful, Williams is in the process of gearing up for a new wave of highlights in the future. “I’ve known Peppa since he was a teenager,” said Dr. Willie W. Herenton, former mayor of Memphis. “Just to see his work flourish over the years, I’m proud to say I know someone that’s outstanding in the community.”
Besides the billboard campaign, Williams created the “Safe Summer Block Party Series” in 2016 that focused on registration efforts through music, food and fun. While the children were able to play and ride camels, parents were able to register their children ahead of the registration date.
“Williams increased our registration to almost 100 percent,” said Avante. “That’s a huge accomplishment.”
The success from his block party series steered him back into the music industry, this time focusing strictly on the Memphis music scene.
“I wanted to do something no one has ever done before in Memphis,” Williams said. So his path led him to create the “Memphis Legends” tour, something that was on his mind for over two years.
“I’ve been trying to bring these guys together for years, but with precise planning we made it happen,” he said. The lineup will consist of legendary music artists that paved the way for underground Memphis music. “Playa Fly, La Chat, Gangsta Boo from Three 6 Mafia, Skinny Pimp, Al Kapone and many more.”
The city has been receptive to the news as tickets have been selling fast. “It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been out to an event in Memphis, and this did it for me,” said Carla Truitt. “I grew up listening to these artists and I’m so excited to see them all together in one room. I really thought it was a joke at first when I heard about it.”