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Rap Boom Reload

In 2005, rappers put Houston on the map. Then the spotlight moved on. Some musicians are working hard to turn it back this way.

So now he operates within the new class of rappers (refusing to tell anyone his age, mind you), wisdom gained from ten years of work and a major label signing, but still with the vigor of someone who's never released a debut album. He is excited, eager and proud.

Today, Kyleon has as much buzz as he's ever had.

"Houston has influenced everything in rap music," says Kyleon. "We can't do what we did, but others can. People are looking to see what Houston is going to do next. They're gonna try and take that too."

Kirko Bangz has gone from YouTube to a major label record contract.
Photo by Marco Torres
Kirko Bangz has gone from YouTube to a major label record contract.
Fat Tony, three-time winner of the Houston Press Best Underground Rapper award, tinges alt rap with Houstonisms. And Hennessy, apparently.
Photo by Marco Torres
Fat Tony, three-time winner of the Houston Press Best Underground Rapper award, tinges alt rap with Houstonisms. And Hennessy, apparently.

"When it's my time, I'll be ready."

V. 2011. 4.

"It fired me up," he says. "I can't even tell you."

It's after 5 p.m. on a Saturday. Kirko Bangz is answering interview questions on a cell phone. And he is a little irritated.

As there are with any artist, particularly new artists, particularly new artists from a city that is so closely identified with a specific music identity, there are common criticisms about Bangz. They range from the playful (Maybe the girl from "What Yo' Name Iz" would tell him what her name was if he stopped calling her bitch) to the dismissive (He's like a Drake knockoff). He sidesteps most of them. But one touches his bones:

He doesn't sound like he's from Houston.

An example: There's a famous SwishaHouse freestyle track from the late nineties called "Drank in My Cup." The very first comment on the YouTube page for the video: "I'm ashamed that Kirko Bangz showed up when I looked this up."

This is a common denigration levied against all but a few of the new underclassmen.

It's a delicate topic; there are just too many implications. If THIS is new then THAT is old, and old is bad, so basically what you're saying is fuck DJ Screw?!, is how a lot of those conversations unfairly unravel. But it's one any (all) new Houston artists will have to stare down.

"It's a challenge," says Bangz. "I want people to respect what we got going on; not just new, but Houston, in general."

On his left bicep is a tattoo of the Houston Astros star. On his left forearm is a tattoo of Pimp C and Big Moe overlooking the city's skyline, with "Houston" written underneath in cursive in case there's any confusion. Underneath his left ear is a tattoo of the old Houston Oilers logo.

"When I did 'What Yo' Name Iz' I had a lot of people telling me that it wasn't Houston. So when we did the new single, we were in the room, I said we weren't leaving until people could hear it and know where I was from. I mean, it's called 'Drank In My Cup.'"

"Then, when we were getting ready to do the video, they said, 'We don't want it to be a typical Houston video'," says Bangz. "I was like, 'What the fuck do you mean, a typical Houston video?' It's cool to be from Houston."

"Ridin'" was the single that broke Chamillionaire nationally. He's acknowledged countless times that the theme for it was taken from UGK's revolutionary 1996 album Ridin' Dirty.

"Ridin'" didn't attempt to mimic the sound, the gorgeous country rap of Ridin' Dirty; that's an impossible feat. It took elements from it, paid homage and tried to advance it.

Despite its being almost entirely about sex, "Drank in My Cup" is similar, if not altogether the same, in theory:

Address the history. Then try to make it.

"If I do it, or if anybody does it...," says Bangz. He pauses to consider the appropriate, measured response to Houston potentially popping again.

"We're about to kill that shit."

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28 comments
Robert Jones
Robert Jones

I already know I'm late, but I'm definitely diggin this article...I was livin in Pensacola FL from 2000-2002 and I witnessed them start gettin big on Lil Flip and I was doin what i could to spread as much H-Town culture as possible. And PCola is still big on Z-Ro, Trae, etc...but that's still the south. Many H-Town artists have had out of state success, but not much outside the southern region....

And oh yeah, Kirko's "Drank In My Cup" is the most H-Townish radio cut I've heard in a minute...and that's from someone who been jammin Screw since '96.....

Reno Carpet Cleaning
Reno Carpet Cleaning

Thank you for spending some time and sharing this information with all of us. It was in fact very beneficial and insightful.

vic
vic

still tippin didnt start the movement...lil flip did im, from ny and the only music that i really like is music from texas....and thats because of lil flip who was and still IS my fave rapper.

Mixtape_monster
Mixtape_monster

"Chamillionaire was the only local titan to land a feature on Undaground Legend" C-Note is a local titan also, right?

Laylow
Laylow

Big Love and ESG.....#RealHouston

Brandondoc
Brandondoc

agreed with bill o really.

ofcourse from what i hear/heard this journalist isn't originally from houston so its no wonder he would point to 2005...but that is not relevant to point how weak this article is...

rap boom reload? really..what a weak title...

with all the mistakes this writer makes and the same couple of artists he CONSTANTLY promotes...im sure i'll be reading the day and a dream blog

Bill O'Really
Bill O'Really

no offense to the author of this article, but if you really think Houston as a city arrived on the rap scene in 2005 you're sadly mistaken.

Rap-A-Lot has been a nationally known entity for years now. Scarface is still one of the most respected emcee's anywhere

Suave House (8Ball & MJG, etc...) was based in Houston.

UGK from P.A. but residing in Houston, has been on a national level since Super Tight dropped.

Then again, how old are you, because most of the younger folks think Houston rap started with Screw and blew up because of Watts and Swisha

Jacob
Jacob

Good article. I wish you would of talked about how money laundering helped the big 2005 boom too.. can't get famous without an "investor"..

Lunchboxrox
Lunchboxrox

The writer naively breezed over UGK and Bun B's influence on the Houston and Global rap culture. No other rapper has had a declaration of his own day like Bun did recently by Mayor Anise Parker for his positive contributions in the city. This writer is obviously fresh out of college and hasn't recognized that there are some of us that were intrical in bridging the early ninties to the present scene by keeping the local support for rap and live performances strong. Promoters like CeePlus, Adam Rapp, Lunaface, and others like myself, kept the flame burning throughout the era's that are broken up in this article as if there were dark ages in between. Wish this article would've served a more meaningful purpose and dove into the real history of how hip hop and rap really survived and thrived in Htown.

KING
KING

About time. The Houston re-up has been needed since December 4th, 2007.

Blueballs03
Blueballs03

Good shit. Had trouble opening up to New Houston at first. Propain helped me get over that. Now I bang the new and the old.

Shea Serrano
Shea Serrano

Thanks. Might I ask: What mistakes, sir?

H_e_x
H_e_x

Insightful comment of the year goes to!*opens letter**blows into letter**unfolds paper*Joseph Graham! Come on down, you wordsmith of the internet!

rip dvd to wmv
rip dvd to wmv

You are pretty right, man! That is the truth about Rap-A-Lot.

Shea Serrano
Shea Serrano

Hi, sir. To address your concern:

Sure, Rap-A-Lot has been vaguely known nationally for some time (mostly to industry folk; most famously, Biggie Smalls). And Suave House was based in Houston. And Scarface is one of the greatest rappers of all-time. And UGK is one rap's most important, most influential, most brilliant acts. Those points aren't in question. I've written about all of them ad nauseum.

But the only time in the history of the planet when Houston was considered the important city in all of rap was 2005. Never before then. And not since.

That's what this article is about.

Thanks again for reading, and thanks again for taking the time to comment. I sincerely appreciate it.

S

H_e_x
H_e_x

Because this article is about a new wave of rappers.

Shea Serrano
Shea Serrano

Sir, this is not an all-encompassing article about the history of Houston rap. Were it that, it'd have been 350,000 words. This story is about what's happened since 2005. From then to now there has not been as impressive an assortment of rappers in Houston's underground scene. Sorry about the confusion. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

S

Mixtape_monster
Mixtape_monster

International we see him like that with the solo work, Botany Boyz work and the SUC, maybe if you see it today Cham nowadays is the local titan, but around then he was just gettin his buzz up! Note's a vet, O.S.U.C.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I think people read the title and went straight into the comments. I refuse to believe people could have such utterly shitty reading comprehension skills.

Bill O'Really
Bill O'Really

Hey Shea,

The truth that's lost in translation, is that Houston has been an important city in Hip Hop since "Minds Playing Tricks on Me" went national.

Houston, along with Miami were the first Southern cities with any respect in the rap game, followed soon after by Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans. The early respect merited "Relevant" status in the genre, period/the end

Without that "relevant" status people wouldn't have even been paying any attention to Houston for guys like Flip, Slim, Paul, Koopa, and Mike Jones to blow up.

Outside of that saying Rap-A-Lot is vaguely known nationally, thanks to a lyrical reference from Christopher Wallace is almost laughable. No disrespect, but that's just plain, flat out wrong.

KING
KING

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people missed the point of your article, bruh, bruh.

Shea Serrano
Shea Serrano

Hahaha. I'm not certain why you put "your" in quotation marks (are you questioning that I wrote them?), but that's cool. Thanks again for the time. I look forward to hearing more from you.

S

Bill O'Really
Bill O'Really

I'm down, and will definitely check out a few of "your" other post.

One last opinion before I up my productivity for the day:

Historical analogues are all important in Hip Hop. It's kind of like "what neighborhood are you from?" on a grand scale. If nobody's ever heard of/met the O.G.'s from where you reside, it's much harder to get a "pass" from anyone. Much less the fickle masses, who still rely on cosigns and or facebook likes.

Shea Serrano
Shea Serrano

Two things:

1. Relevant? Of course. Again, that's not in question. Everyone is aware of Houston's rap pedigree. But it was never THE most important city in rap before 2005, sir (which, incidentally, is nearly the entire thesis of this story). Surely you will concede that point.

2. "Without that 'relevant' status people wouldn't have even been paying any attention to Houston for guys like Flip, Slim, Paul, Koopa, and Mike Jones to blow up."

Historical analogues are of no concern during the coronation of national darlings into the pop canon, less so when talking about success within it. The 2005 class was influenced by their predecessors, absolutely, but their success was only tied to them tangentially. Nobody said, "Let me give X a record deal because he's from Houston and that's where Scarface is from."

I enjoy this. I hope you stick around to comment on more things. Please check the music blog. Active commenters are the best. Mostly, I just receive emails/comments that use the wrong form of "your" while insulting me.

S

 
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