After a successful trial run in 2014, the New Houston Rap column is back. Sure, we took a bit of time in between weeks because of the NFL playoffs and Houston, like much of the rap world at large, took a bit of a break, but things have become wide-open these past two weeks.
You see, a project from BeatKing is now readily available. And Slim Thug has put out one of a purported four albums set to drop this year. And OneHunnidt finally gave the people his next logical step as a rapper. And Young G and O.N.E. and...look, the point has pretty much been made. Houston rap doesn't want to stop in 2015, doesn't want to sleep, doesn't want to capsize or run into a goddamn iceberg.
Or made Super Bowl Sunday ads if you're Mike Jones. Or train to be a future WWE wrestler in RiFF RaFF. Point is, the New Houston Rap column isn't situated to just a day. Which makes it so fun. Let's dig around here first.
On How BeatKing Teaches You How to Enjoy Sex Last year, we anointed BeatKing's Underground Cassette Tape Music, featuring Three 6 Mafia's Gangsta Boo, as the best Houston rap tape of the year. People understood it and its creator quite clear; its clever mix of slick, gross humor and strapping flair a B-side to the early Three 6 canon. That was then. BeatKing has to do what's good and what's next for him -- and that is, wait, sex education?
Picture this. Club God 4 is the only CD in your deck, the only one you can play your lady on Valentine's Day. You're trapped in bed with her and feeling selfish as hell. Why are you feeling selfish? Because Dr. BeatKing has openly told you on your manual for getting laid, aptly titled Club God 4, everything that is going to happen to you tonight.
You're going to get twerked on by your lady and her plenty of handclaps and shouts. He'll ask you questions; you'll have the answers. You may be fumbling with condoms, and then BeatKing's "How to Make Love to a Woman" is going to pop in your head. You're also going to remember how Dorrough Music wants a woman to go down on him for at least 30 minutes, because he asks "What That Mouth Do."
You're going to hit it that night, and be bored as hell that you're getting laid. And then you're gonna go right back into the club and try to re-use all of BeatKing's words to save your scrawny ass from getting attached.
Club God 4 works like plenty of other early-season BeatKing tapes. It's slick, raunchy and touches on two things: BeatKing can punch your goddamn lights out and laugh about it, and he can be the adult version of Latarian Milton. Does BeatKing do hood-rat things? Hear "On These Hoez" and "Lit," not to mention the outright UCTM leftover "Tear Da Club God."
Does BeatKing find a way to mix his actual rapping ability to once more keep people paying close attention? Lil Keke, Danny Brown & Chamillionaire lend verses here. It's the first BeatKing tape that comes with him standing in the "white underground." "I'm doing so many different types of me on here," he says on the tape's closer "Nervous," where he openly reveals he's standing on the edge of 30 and says this is his weirdest project yet.
Only BeatKing can curl his lips to tap-dance over Mannie Fresh's synths from "Ha" for "BDA Remix," or peel away Jay Z's "Where I'm From" into a gothic, snare-driven husk of a track with Lil Keke on "Still Knockin'." It's never all fun and games with Club Godzilla; there are honest moments where he can clap at his own accomplishments ("Sweet Dreams") and offer a blueprint. Club God 4 is indeed a weird cacophony of every side of BeatKing, which means it may be the first outright risk he's taken as an artist since figuring out his formula right around "U Ain't Bout That Life." Download here.
Where Slim Thug Discusses His Life I've often said Slim Thug, probably more than anybody, lives the life you'd want to live if you were a bachelor rapper. Here's an example. During Hogg Life: The Beginning, he openly admits to one of the sources of his income that isn't much of a secret -- real estate. He'll tell you that he has a palatial estate out in Pearland, but nothing screams, "I'm here, deal with it!" then becoming the landlord of your old neighborhood.
Nothing outside of maybe nabbing Rihanna, Beyonce and Michelle Obama in succession can top that. But that's Slim Thug's life: a carnival of fly rides and ladies while guffawing his way to make more money. Hogg Life: The Beginning, the first of four purported Slim Thug albums this year, kicks off like a '70s Blaxploitation flick, the horns and guitars looking like they want to hit as hard as Fred Williamson back in the day.
Slim's raps don't immediately needle you and poke you into a reaction these days; they coast into motivational speaker territory. He raps with sound conviction about not being able to record with some Southside greats and missing the city's true unifier, Pimp C, on "RIP." It's one of four moments where Z-Ro slides in with either a verse, a chorus, or both. Slim admitted that all four tracks were originally slated for the now shelved King & a Boss album, but it just means that those moments are more precious.
As rudimentary as it may sound, any Slim offering these days isn't going to stretch what his idea of street music is. He's sat on this perch for a long while now, extending time and getting rejuvenated from younger acts that pull out different versions of him in different spaces. Almost the entire Sauce Factory (Sosamann, Sancho Saucy and Sauce Walka) make appearances on The Beginning, the anointed Sauce Hogg adopting their flows and cadences while mixing in his own garish wit.
This is where we're at with Slim Thug releases in 2015. Thugga's still capable of throwing a few dunks off the backboard ("Drophead Freestyle") but has long been able to work the post and get shit done there ("Money Fever," "55," "All I Know"). From the onset, The Beginning squares up and lets you know Slim is reaching back to his roots, where "Braids & Fades" was a big damn deal, and small clips from his own two-part documentary are spliced in to drive the effect home. Either you're with Slim or against him. I think I like his odds a hell of a lot better than yours. Buy here
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On How OneHunnidt Accepts Fate You could pick a random Tuesday. Or a random date anywhere for that matter and sit down to have a conversation with OneHunnidt. You may get a little sage advice here and there. You may also get some jokes about the Texans, the Rockets, the Houston music scene in general, his two kids and more. You'll also notice how his jaw raises a bit when he smiles but still carries the weight of plenty of shit he wants to hold back on.
The sticking point about him is how he's constantly improving, how he didn't necessarily want to be a rapper trapped by the formatting and tradition of a 16-bar verse. The rougher parts of his craft, the moments where he veers a bit too far left vocally, occur in fewer places than before. That's no more evident than Field Sobriety: everything gets souped up, from production (Chris Rockaway, Yung Knight, Trakksounds) to Hunnidt's own song composition. He knew how to convey emotion; Legacy of a Legend and Keep It 100 proved that twice over. Crafting actual songs, however, eluded him for the most part.
The short of this? Field Sobriety is the best OneHunnidt project. Sorry Keep It 100, you had "Father's Day" and an open letter to America, but your youngest brother outdid you here.
There's a reason why we ask some rappers to take more time in cultivating something new. It's a silly back and forth chalking up our own indecisiveness but it's true. Some artists you can stand waiting a couple of years fine-tuning a project. Others you just want to hand you microwavable material to digest and move along with. Field Sobriety took as long as it did because everything had to click.
It's literal therapy for OneHunnidt, as he spends the majority of it looking at all of his thoughts like Tom Cruise in Minority Report and giving them all individual screen time. "Payola" takes selfish matters and defiance and rides a bit of jazz into it. "Closed Caption" saunters and lingers while discussing three sides to a story: a man looking inward at himself, a father to his son and a son to his father. What ties all this together? Cecilia Smith playing narrator and therapist, willing to listen to OneHunnidt ramble inside an arena of controlled chaos.
I may not exactly enjoy the idea of a "Sapiosexual" due to how the term gets bent around to make certain men and women sound deeper and smarter than they are, yet Hunnidt tries his best at a mental slow jam with Relli and Sequoyah here.
There's no need further explaining how near-perfect "Screw Culture" is, but it represents the strongest bit of collaboration on Field Sobriety. "Closed Caption"; the trap-flavored "Major League" with Hoodstar Chantz; and the Atlanta-heavy "The Longway" may battle for second, but OneHunnidt has finally come to grips with his life. He's a bartending poet who will hand out middle fingers to critics and not back down. Even where he stumbles (and they exists in almost minute moments on FS), he sturdies himself and keeps on going. Stream/Buy Here.
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