The superheroically sincere videographer/director Sama'an Ashrawi comes to mind. So does the hyper-savvy promoter/party pied piper MC Kane. And of course the indomitable do-everything Matt Sonzala.
Beyond that, few guys involved in championing underground rap in Houston are as likable as Ram, the face of Local Live Radio's award-winning program, Optimo Radio. Which is at least part of the reason why you should download the station's new mixtape, The Underground Vol. 1. The other reason: Fuck your other reason. Just download it.
The release is a two-disc compilation of tracks from an impressive range of acts. There's the brilliantly byzantine (indie legend K-Rino), Shakespeare-ingly endearing (Kyle Hubbard), massively intimidating (Killa Cal-Wayne), massively massive (Big Gerb), the forgotten talent (Cl-che') and about 700 other rappers who deserve a moment of your time. (There are even -- gasp! -- acts from San Antonio and Austin.) Says Ram:
"I decided it was time to put something together really representing all the best underground artists here in Texas. I feel it represents all the eclectic styles that exist here, going beyond the candy paint and swangas and going deeper into the voice of the streets like how it used to be. This is the kind of rap album you actually want to listen to what the artist has to say."
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The Underground Vol. 1 is available for free online here. If you'd like to support the radio station (which you absolutely should), you can order a custom Optimo Radio USB with the tape + bonus material pre-loaded.
"We actually waited six months to put this out," continues Ram. "It didn't feel right; it wasn't angry enough. Times are hard, people are pissed off, the nation is divided.
'The album is about unity. Mainstream media feeds us lies and garbage all day and we're all sick of it. We're out of time. We can't let things get worse. We have to make a concerted effort to make things good again. And I think this CD is pretty damn good."