Ain't Saying He's a Gold Digger

Local hip-hop duo the Legendary K.O. throws a left cross Dubya's way with an Internet smash hit

As is the story with many hit songs, Randle and Nickerson didn't believe they had a smash on their hands once it was done. "We just posted it on the Net to a few of our friends who also make music as a kind of 'Look at what we did' kind of thing."

And those friends sent the tune to some bloggers, and it was Katy bar the door after that. "It just snowballed once it hit the blogs," Randle says. "Within 24 hours we were getting e-mails from people saying, 'Oh, your song is so great. I posted it on my blog, and that goes out to X number of people.' Matt Sonzala posted it and sent it to some industry contacts, and that catapulted things a lot."

Since then, it has been downloaded more than a million times. It has been called the most important freestyle ever written, and Tom Joyner played it on his syndicated morning show coast to coast. Several directors have spliced the song in with footage of Katrina's aftermath and made videos, and U.S. News and World Report's habitual harrumpher John Leo even felt compelled to imply that Randle and Nickerson were race baiters and to directly call them "opportunistic," which is a particularly odd charge, since the Legendary K.O. is not receiving a dime from the recording. (West's lawyers would have dropped the hammer on them if they'd tried, but they never did.) To my eyes, it's far more opportunistic to slur people who have actually worked in the relief effort in order to spin a disaster back in favor of the very people who bungled it, but that's a true believer for you.

Back at the beginning of the year, if you had told me that Slim Thug, Paul Wall and Mike Jones would all perch near the top of the charts, I definitely would have believed you, but for the Legendary K.O. to have this kind of success -- even if it's not financial -- is really astounding. In a city where meaningful lyrics have dwindled from the heady early days of often political gangsta rap to near-nonexistence today, I wouldn't have believed that the Legendary K.O. would have a chance.

That they did it on the Internet DIY-style is no coincidence. The labels see these guys as non-factors, as Randle acknowledges. "Even if this were an, as I call it, non-seasonal year for Houston, I think this song would have had an impact," he says. "But this is pretty fortunate timing. I think it's good that we shed some more light on the Houston scene. Hopefully people will just pick up on the whole…I don't like to call it conscious music, but 'middle-class music.' Our music reflects what we go through as middle-class citizens. We're not the prototypical rap group that everyone sees on MTV. And to be honest, as far as 'underground' goes, there are probably a lot more people in this country who mirror our ideals than those who talk about muddy rims, lean and so forth. Not to take anything away from them, but a whole musical ethos is largely ignored because I guess it's not as marketable, so to speak."

Scuttlebutt Caboose

Former Nightfly columnist Brian McManus returns to his former hometown with his band the Fatal Flying Guilloteens on October 21. They will play at Walter's on Washington with DMBQ, the Life and Times and Sharks and Sailors30footFALL's retirement didn't last very long. The band will play an October 21 benefit for sufferers of Angelman Syndrome at Fitzgerald's with Simpleton, Vatos Locos, Superfuzz, Hit by a Car and Under Stone.

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