Five Spot: Remembering "Five Star General" Big Hawk
Welcome back to Five Spot. Every Friday, we'll examine a recent bit of music news and, sometimes awkwardly, tie it to a bit of Houston rap. It's five videos and occasional cussing. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MTV's Cribs has to be one of this generation's finest cultural achievements. For anyone who's never seen it - and thus, indirectly shown far more independence of character than we possess - the show consists of a camera crew showing up at some famous person's home and following them around while they tout all of their fine worldly possessions and make us feel like a great big underachieving asshole. Inevitably, whenever a rapper's home is visited, there will be a mini-shrine to Al Pacino's Scarface; apparently, Tony Montana's "The World Is Yours" dogma mirrors that of every rapper ever. It's borderline grand delusion at best, but there is some truth that can be squeezed from the Gangster Movie Character Represents Rapper premise. To wit: there's a nifty little scene at the beginning of Goodfellas where Ray Liotta is doing a voiceover, describing the area's various mafiosos in one or two sentence capsules. He gets to Paul Sorvino's character, Paulie, the neighborhood boss, and mentions something about how he "only moved slow because he didn't have to move fast for anyone." It's a great line; also on that list: the scene in A Bronx Tale where Calogero is describing how Sonny, his neighborhood's boss, has a penchant for folding his middle and ring finger into his palm when he's talking, saying "Sonny had five fingers, but he only used three."What pushes Liotta's line to a dynamic depth, though, is throughout the course of the movie you periodically catch glimpses of Paulie skulking around in the background, out of the direct line of action, but always aware of everything that's happening. Whether it's by accident or not, it works out wonderfully. You've got the omnipresent boss seemingly arms-length away from everything, yet he bends the actions of the neighborhood to his want. The exception here being when Liotta, DeNiro and Pesci plan that big heist without Paulie's say-so, leading everything to crumble to shit. Of course, the obvious parallel to Paulie is Screwed Up Clik founding member Big Hawk. After Fat Pat passed in 1998 and DJ Screw passed in 2000, Hawk effectively ran SUC until his demise in 2006. He was never as overt in his leadership role as Screw, but he was widely considered to be The Guy around town (hence, the "Five Star General" title he picked up), rendering SoundScan's normal numeric influence beyond obsolete. Here are a few of his tracks you should purchase immediately.
"Chillin' With My Broad": Look no further to find evidence of Hawk's unending amount of cocksuredness than the premise of this track here. Seriously, how high does your confidence level have to be to allow you to make a song where you a) admit that you're cheating on your wife; and b) chastise the woman you cheated on your wife with for incidentally treating your wife with disrespect?
"Heart Of A Hustler" (from Hawk's Dead End Alliance days): If there were a section at Best Buy titled "Beautiful Houston Rap That Plays Up Everything You've Ever Thought To Be True About Houston Rap," the single for this song would absolutely be found there.
"I'd Rather Bang Screw": Of all the songs Houston artists have made paying homage to DJ Screw, few feel as earnest as this one. After Hawk's passing, the amount of surrealness felt while watching him in the booth rapping his respect to Screw is almost beyond measurement. Also, is the hook here sampling Adina Howard's "Freak" or Beyonce's "Be With You"? Either way, it's a nice touch.
"Coming Home": Devin The Dude might be one of the finest hook singers Houston has ever produced. When displayed in a melody, his voice makes us feel the same way we do when we high five an old friend.
"Roll A Blunt": The crowning achievement of this is that it manages to be a song blatantly about smoking weed that you can unironically listen to while you actually smoke weed, which is insanely hard to pull off. Here's what we mean: the next time you get high, put on Afroman's "Because I Got High" and take note of how everyone else in the room looks at you like you're a total d-bag. Put this song on though, and no one will even blink. (Note: Listening to Devin the Dude while you smoke isn't ironic, but it is clichéd. There's a difference.) Have a safe weekend.
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