By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
Tennessee recording artist Memphis Jelks’ latest – an interesting – single has slowly become a hit via downloads and social media play.
The song, “NN7687,”is a tribute to one of America’s most notable prison inmates: Bill Cosby. Cosby’s official Twitter account even tweeted a thank you to the artist who’s backed by legendary Public Enemy front man Chuck D.
Jelks, whose hits include “Happiness,” “Swamp Ball,” and “Red.Rum.Red.Eye,” has released, “NN7687,” which is Cosby’s inmate number at the Pennsylvania Prison where he’s serving a 3-to-10-year sentence on aggravated indecent assault charges.
Cosby has maintained his innocence and is appealing.
Jelks’ three minute and 18 second track pays homage to Cosby from beginning to end, with a catchy and smooth beat and lyrics like (NSFW: parental discretion advised):
“NN7687, Sir I want you to know, to me you’re still a legend, no matter what they say they can never take away the inspiration that you gave and you paved the way for many people to succeed in the USA, thank you for what you achieved to make us all great; it’s because of you I believe many went to college and we all ended up with degrees;
“First, they want to take away your fame, next they go and take away your name; that’s when they riddle you with shame all because you wouldn’t play the game…. Ain’t no way you should be in prison… whatever happened to no fingerprints, no evidence… look who they choose to be the president…”
Jelks called the single “an early Christmas gift,” to the Cosby family.
“Thanks Bill Cosby and family for posting my song on your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. May God bless you,” said Jelks, formerly known as J-Smoove.
The Cosby family responded.
“Mr. and Mrs. Cosby and the Cosby family would like to thank you, Jacoby (Memphis) Jelks, for this wonderful tribute,” the Cosby family tweeted from Bill Cosby’s official account.
“It’s truly an honor to share your talented support. The world knows the truth and they are waking up.”
The hundreds of supportive social media posts in response to the track included Jelks’ fan, Ruby Allen.
“They live to take our successful black men down,” Allen said, before echoing a line in the song about God acting as final judge.
“God is the final judge of victim and perpetrator,” Allen said.
After hearing the song, Patti Rose wrote on Cosby’s Facebook page, “Slowly our people wake up from slumber, towards truth and justice … this beautiful piece of work emerges from [Cosby’s] pain converted to power,” Rose said.
As of deadline for this article, the track had been viewed on YouTube more than 3,100 times; with hundreds of shares and comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Jelks grew up in Lauderdale County – about 65 miles north of Memphis – in Ripley, Tenn.
Jelks honed his skills as a DJ, music producer and recording artist and eventually was given the name “Memphis” by Chuck D.
After releasing two studio albums, “Call Me Up” and “The Last Classic” under the Memphis-based label Portra Records, Jelks went on to release several underground albums as an independent artist under his own record label, dubbed “Ori-G-inO Records.”
The success of those albums ultimately led Jelks to land numerous gigs in and around Memphis before gradually meeting local rap legend Al Kapone. The result, according to his bio, was Jelks performing at more upscale venues and events, including the Beale St. Music Festival as a background vocalist for Kapone.
After a chance meeting with Chuck D, Jelks signed on to SpitDigital Recordings where he’s continued to put out hits, including the latest, “NN7687.”