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Michael "5000" Watts and Trillstep

The Swishahouse don has a new creation.

"But instead of just coming on out there," Watts continues, "we would rather do something that's fun for the community, like do a showcase. We don't want to make it like you have to go to school on Saturday, or something like that. We want to make it fun."

But no one cares about some hip-hop guy and a show attached to a health cause. That's how it reads on paper, a hip-hop artist putting on a show attached to a health cause. Right?

It's tempting to dismiss the show as another artist treating a social cause like a hobby, as they go about driving million-dollar cars and sleeping peacefully on Egyptian bed linen. People take celebrity causes about as seriously as they do windshield flyers and sex pills.

Swishahouse Records co-founder Michael "5000" Watts now blends Houston raps and ­dubstep beats for "trillstep."
Courtesy of Michael "5000" Watts
Swishahouse Records co-founder Michael "5000" Watts now blends Houston raps and ­dubstep beats for "trillstep."

Details

3rd Annual "Don't Sleep on It" Youth Health Expo

With DJ Michael "5000" Watts, Killa Kyleon, MPS, 1040 Boyz, Beat King, Big Wood, D Boss and the Swishahouse Family, 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center, 4014 Market, www.dontsleeponit.org.

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One thing that makes Watts's effort hard to dismiss, though, is that the man doesn't bullshit. He doesn't try to sell you anything. Plus, his goals seem to extend beyond self-interest.

For example, when our conversation shifts to S.U.C. vs Swishahouse, i.e., the entanglement of legacies by virtue of Watts building his career on a style DJ Screw clearly invented, he does what anyone who thinks bigger than himself would do: Give huge credit where it's due.

"Honestly, man, if it wasn't for DJ Screw doing what he did, there wouldn't be a Swishahouse," Watts says. "This was directly created off what he had started."

You should care because, when we ask why he picked health awareness to push, he doesn't spout some noble horse dung about the importance of Doing Good and Changing the World, he gives us facts. Depressing facts. And — if you care about these things — a little research courtesy of CDC.gov turns up some numbers that back up the gravity of Houston's syphilis problem:

5: Houston's rank among all U.S. ­cities for new cases.

2: Where Texas ranks on ­reported cases of syphilis

1/3: Fraction of all Houstonians with new syphilis infection who also have HIV.

1: Harris County's rank among all Texas counties in congenital syphilis.

1: Houston's rank on reported cases of congenital syphilis in infants.

When we suggest that this concert could be perceived as a publicity coup for Swishahouse, Watts doesn't vehemently deny it or respond with a defensive quip. He simply reminds me that the purpose of the show is to lighten the mood for the kids, and that yes, it's publicity for everyone involved.

He has a point. It's publicity for the Department of Health, the SEAC, everyone trying to make a positive impact in the city.

Houston is already an influential city in rap, as Drake and A$AP Rocky will tell you. Is the city capable of leading the war on STDs? Watts certainly hopes so. He does end the discussion on a hip-hop note, offering a word of counsel to the new generation of Houston rappers.

"Don't be scared to go outside the box and do something different," he says. "I always get asked, 'How can I be successful like Swishahouse was? We doin' the same thing that y'all doing, but it's not working.'"

He has an easy ­answer: "It's ­already been done."

"Different" for Michael Watts and ­Swishahouse these days starts with a T-word. The label boasts its own dubstep DJ, a guy named Badbwoy BMC, who helped usher in the new sound on the aptly ­titled mixtape Welcome 2 Trillstep. A new batch of original material will follow this summer.

Will Watts find the antidote to Houston's commercial slumber of late? Who knows? For now he's content to help Houstonians make smarter health decisions, wheeling an ailing city in the right direction one trillstep at a time.

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5 comments
Nick Beatdown
Nick Beatdown

Whats wrong with fight music? The internet trolls towards the bottom are too scared to come to the club. Badbwoy BMC and Big Watts have been layin it down steady for YEARS and get no love because people like the assistant music editor are anti-bass music. Don't characterize a big part of the revolution as some type of disease or you'll get bitch slapped if you show your face in public. Some credit should also be given to another one of Houston's producers-- Claw, whose makin big things happen with Hulk and I know why he chose to leave this city.

Hootiewhobaca RO
Hootiewhobaca RO

Props to Watts for staying true to his character and giving credit where credit is due. Obviously some guy named Rizoh didn't do his homework. The majority of this article is about Watts' contribution to public awareness which is very admirable. Abstinence is really the only way to be 100% sure you wont get pregnant, get someone pregnant or contract an std but people who want to become sexually active will. Telling someone they shouldn't do something will never work-- hopefully the message was use birth control, protect yourself with a condom and go get tested. This is not some new nationwide social issue, there is no forefront in the war against vds and although Houston may have a problem Trillstep certainly aint what the poser child is listening to. The blinders of commercialism may have obstructed this guy's vision of what success in the music business actually is. I commend Watts for doing something positive for our community. I would contest that the ability to put on an event like this is success in itself. The assertion that someone is actively looking for the antidote to Houston's commercial slumber has not had someone else tell him that its already been found. Maybe they ain't ready haha

DJ Michael Watts
DJ Michael Watts

This is Michel 5000 Watts. I really want to give credit to Badbwoy BMC & Texas Dub for creating the whole Trill Step movement & allowing me to be a part of it. I have to give my family props since the writer of this article didn't.

Quit whining!
Quit whining!

Well, he sure seemed to treat you really well in the article. Nothing but positive things to say, even about the "trill-step" crap. Wish I could write so well, but I'd have to be more honest.

 
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