Filmmaker Eddie Bailey describes the art form as “a derivative of hip hop culture and an extension of broader Black culture.” Drawing on the Memphis’ music roots, he explained “Memphis was once a music mecca. So I’m using Jookin’ as a mechanism to explore the rich culture, history, racial politics and socioeconomic stratification of the city in a way that has never been done before,” Bailey said. “When you talk about the Civil Rights Movement, you have to talk about Memphis. In the south, Memphis was an epicenter of African American culture. But Memphis also parallels cities like Camden, New Jersey, Detroit, Michigan or Gary, Indiana – all of which are majority Black, largely blue collar, and in a particularly perplexing socioeconomic state.”
Bailey adds, “The city has a very peculiar racial history.” He is a cousin of National Civil Rights Museum founder D’Army Bailey, the late civil rights activist, attorney and circuit court judge. “The funny thing is there’s a plaque commemorating where a former slave trader’s house once stood, which is directly across the street from the courthouse named after D’Army Bailey.”
Early on, Bailey relocated to Atlanta and later attended Howard University where he honed his acumen for storytelling through film studies. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where worked with networks including MTV, BET, NBC and TV One. Following the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike and the Great Recession in 2008, he founded his production company Savoy Media Group in 2010. In 2015, he produced and directed “The History of Hip Hop in the Bronx,” a TV segment that earned him an Emmy nomination.