Houston Music

Genesis Blu: Houston Rap's Budding Revolutionary

As she sits across the table in a downtown Houston high-rise, overlooking the sprawling skyline, Genesis Blu’s small stature belies the tremendous presence she brings to the stage. Adorned in blue corkscrew curls and delicate blue-framed cat-eye glasses, she is an artfully smart package. “People look at me and immediately think I sing.” She smiles wide: “No. I do not sing. I rap.”

Meeting Genesis is akin to engaging a shaman or spiritual adviser in deep discussion. She has an expressive way with words and an authentic compassion for reaching those who have been hurt or lost. Genuinely concerned with others and how words affect them, she happens to be a therapist with a private practice to boot — no surprise there.

Even with her impressive professional accolades, Genesis believes her life’s work is to reach people with a positive message, whether it’s through counseling parents and teens as clinical director at the Harris County Health Center or recording an impactful hip-hop record that strives to uplift and make a difference.

Yet the drive to create hip-hop, not climb a corporate ladder, is at her core. Genesis completed the second chapter of her Ph.D. dissertation before realizing she was chasing approval and not her passion. After receiving feedback full of red ink and rejection, she says, “I realized I was not happy. This wasn’t making me happy. So, I just stopped.”

Switching her writing from research to rap lyrics, Genesis found her calling — at least when it comes to her art. Influenced by poetry, spiritualism and the belief that hip-hop is revolutionary in nature, Genesis writes lyrics that are impetuously positive and morally conscientious. And, as we all know in the rap game, that’s not what’s celebrated or popular.

“It’s so easy to write [destructive] music and lyrics.” Genesis explains. “But I’m here to prove you can be a lyrical beast — well-spoken, well-educated, not drink or smoke and still shine a light on hip-hop.”

Houston's rap scene is not exactly known for its wholesome image — but is any town's, for that matter? In a city known for chopped and screwed rap borne from a love of sippin’ on sizzurp, it’s hard to imagine that lyrical positivity would get an artist very far, especially for a female. Genesis, who recently signed with Houston-based record label Roologic Records, is definitely in a category all her own; her next goal is a proper tour to support this fall's upcoming EP release.

Upon first hearing about Genesis's talents, a close friend advised, "Careful — that woman can rap her ass off.” Watching her open for Tayana Taylor at House of Blues last month proved my confidant correct and made me realize the untapped beauty beheld within the Bayou City’s rap scene is even greater than most people realize. We are so much more than just a loop of wards and rich oil companies.

“So many people borrow from Houston’s [rap talent] and don’t give credit.” Genesis explains. “I want to change that.” It’s true that Houston still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, the way New York and Los Angeles do. Yet neither of those cities can claim Genesis and her vision.

Apparently, Matthew Knowles agrees too. After rapping at his Artists Showcase, she was invited back the next year to perform — and she won. Winning a singles deal from Knowles, Genesis made the kind of impact few artists can only dream of in such a competitive contest. She ended up passing on Knowles’s offer, yet maintains a positive relationship from the experience. Winning only validated her passion for music and taught her what she really already knew: She can make it as a rapper — or whatever she puts her mind to.

The Greenspoint native isn’t intimidated by the Houston rap scene, nor is she a newcomer. During her earliest years, her mother noticed Genesis’s uncanny ability to create poetry and set it to rhythm. She sought to get her noticed in the fiercely competitive music industry, about which Genesis says, laughing, “It was a mean girls club, for sure.”

By age 14, she had secured a record deal that, according to her, went “sour.” From there, Genesis poured herself into study; though school proved rewarding, she never lost her love of hip-hop, nor fire for dope lyric-writing.

Though she cites her greatest influences as Scarface, Lauryn Hill, Nas, Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu, Genesis is more than a conglomerate of other voices. She recalls hip-hop's mission in its formative days: to act as a voice of change, either on the mike or through her radio show, Troy Hip Hop, Tuesdays on All Real Radio.

Genesis calls herself a new “Fem C,” charging herself to create revolutionary music. And while Houston's current rap scene may not be a mean-girls club anymore, she still finds pushback.

“I believe I intimidate a lot of males and I’ve been [denied] a lot of opportunities….I don’t do cutesy rap,” she says with audible frustration. “You know, people need you to be in a box; to define you. I just want to show you can be positive, fun, make club music and your words can have value.”

Genesis Blu's schedule is currently quiet, but it won't stay that way. Follow her on Facebook for updates.
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Kristy Loye is a writer living in Houston and has been writing for the Houston Press since July 2015. A recent Rice University graduate, when not teaching writing craft or reciting poetry, she's upsetting alt-rights on Reddit.