This could be our most controversial Latino rap blog yet, or the first of many. We really don't know yet. We can tell you what we do know. We're 16 stories in and just starting to scratch the surface of the dynamics of Houston's Latino rap game. Since Rocks Off started riding this Latino rap wave, it's been smooth sailing. Most of the artists we've featured pay homage to the most successful Texas Latin rap artist in history, SPM. We wondered when the wave was going to come crashing down. After talking to Texas Latin rap pioneer Filero, we got drowned with reality and left the conversation reaching for the surface, gasping for air. Pimp C called out Young Jeezy because he didn't give a fuck. Truth, or his perception of it, pulled rank over his other half's friendship with Jeezy, so he put Mr. 16.5 on blast for not calling himself Mr. 10-a-key. And young folk, who probably didn't know Pimp C because they were shitting their diapers when Sweet James Jones was helping lay the foundation for Southern rap, probably looked at Tony Snow like, "N*gga, where you come from?" Filero compared himself to Pimp C when we talked to him, because when it comes to the pretty picture many have about Houston Latino rap and its evolution, he isn't scared to put his bare hand on it and play "wax on, wax off." If anyone has that right, it's Filero. We'll tell you why.
Lots of people have told us that the best albums ever made by Houston Latino rappers have a post-2000 drop date, and they probably have a good artistic argument. We have to admit, though, that anybody who tells us that, we look at like the Rio Grande Valley native who claims he's been "listening to UGK since the 'beginning'... since Big Pimpin'." All we can do is laugh, because they ain't from H-Town. They didn't grow up here in the '90s and can't understand why previous Latino rap albums' impact elevates their rank and influence. And that "Hey dumbass, 'Big Pimpin'' was the beginning of the end, not the beginning." The first albums made by Latino rap artists are credited to Grimm, Filero, Lil Villain, Lord Loco, Balazo, Shadow and Ikeman, members of Aggravated (founded in 1994), later known as The Most Hated due to label disputes. For all intents and purposes, they are pioneers of Mexican-American hip-hop in Texas along with SPM. But a false perception is that Mr. Hustle Town was alone. Their self-titled albums, Aggravated and The Most Hated, are only preceded by Grimm's first solo outing, and might be considered the Texas Latino rap equivalent of N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton and Niggaz4life. SPM's Hustle Town is another that's just as cherished and beloved as those two. In fact, Filero tells us that early on, SPM met with Aggravated to talk about joining the group, but it was decided there were too many members already and SPM would be better off going solo. We know. You chuckle because you know SPM ended up being much better off. End of story, right? Well, not so fast.
Filero tells us that he taught SPM how to make beats; that he produced 80 percent of Hustle Town and you can thank him for classics like "Mary-Go-Round," "Block of Rock" and "Hustle Town." You should also know that Filero's pissed because he didn't get proper production credits on Hustle Town, and because his payment was $1,000 and a bottle of Crown Royale and he never saw a dime more. And that only came after Filero broke SPM's mother's truck window and punched him twice in the face. Well, to be fair, let's provide the story some context. Filero tells Rocks Off that he and SPM (aka Carlos Coy) went to a club one night and he told Coy not to leave him there. But Coy did, and Filero, stuck like chuck, broke the truck window so he could sleep somewhere. When Coy returned, things escalated and the fistfight that ensued was more like the straw that broke the camel's back. Money and credit were really at the core of the dispute, not abandonment. Coy disappeared for a week or so, Filero claims, and later returned with $1,000 and a bottle of Crown as payment. "I'm supposed to be getting publishing checks," Filero tells Rocks Off. "I didn't sign a contract when I did it. I thought he was going to look out for me." That wasn't the only time Filero felt slighted by Coy. When we asked Filero about whether Chicano rap artists like California's Kid Frost influenced the birth of Houston's Latino rap scene, he dismisses that claim and says that groups like South Park Coalition and DJ Screw should be given the credit. He goes further to say he has plex with Frost and that they, too, got into a fistfight. Get the popcorn. The shit's getting good.
Filero doesn't have a reason for it, but he tells us that one evening Kid Frost cold-cocked him in the bathroom of a Houston nightclub and ran. They kicked down a couple studio doors and found out his real name and cancelled his flight, but they never found him because SPM was hiding him. Months later, Filero heard that Kid Frost was in town and was actually in the same club he was in that evening. Word is Frost was hiding out in the club's office with a pool stick. A freeway chase followed, with Filero's crew ready to put a cap in Frost, but a few ladies from the Southeast that Filero knew were in the car, and they decided to retreat. "He was yelling 'I'm Johnny Z. I'm not Kid Frost," laughs Filero. When considering the good and bad history Filero and SPM have, the stories sound like rival brothers' backyard brawls and disagreements. And like those kind of relationships, people squash beef and move on, or not. They did. Filero lived with SPM during his criminal trial. He'd drop him off in the morning at the courthouse and in the last days of his freedom they recorded Reveille Park, which Filero helped grace the cover. This is where the video coming up in a bit gets some perspective. Filero tells us Dope House Records bought the rights to The Most Hated album from Filero's first label, and that fact seems to be the sticking point that doesn't let Filero's wounds heal. They're making money, legitimately, off of the Aggravated group's work. Is it ethical? That's the question Filero asks. Dope House will probably answer "It's business." Watch the video and decide for yourself.
Come back Monday for the second and final story about Filero's confessions of the Texas Latino Rap Game. Rolando Rodriguez is the managing editor ofwww.redbrownandblue.com
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!