It's always a good idea to judge people by the way that they look, right? Well, it turns out that once-infallible methodology may be kind of, well, wrong. At first glance, the GRiT Boys appear to be more of the stereotype-reinforcing thug rappers who are strangling hip-hop's originality to death, when in fact they are quite the opposite. Smart, well-thought-out and clever lyricists, the GRiT Boys are vanguard rappers looking to rebuild Houston's reputation as a hotbed of innovative artists.
Make no mistake: Houston has a sound. It always has. It's that slow, aggressive bump and confrontational bang. Now, it appears a new breed of Houston music is bubbling up that's fresh, provocative, real and available on the GBs' brand-new CD, Ghetto Reality in Texas. The Press recently sat down with Scooby, Poppy, Unique, their producer Todd and the rest of the GB team at the Sound Check Music Complex to get the latest from the streets.
Houston Press: You guys have been rapping for about seven years. One of the most interesting parts of rappers is what they do when they aren't living the fantastic life of being famous thugged-out gangster rappers. Like, do gangsters enjoy ice cream and playing ping-pong or whatever?
Todd: Not in that order.
Poppy: Well, I don't know about everyone else, but I like Rice Krispie treats.
HP: That's so badass. That should be your next CD cover. Does everyone have daytime jobs?
Unique: We all have daytime jobs.
Todd: It's the reality of the situation. A lot of people watch TV and think the rap game is all sweet. We work hard.
HP: So what does everybody do?
Unique: [Scooby] is a cable man*, I lay carpet and [Poppy] works at a tennis shop.
(*Scooby later explained that he is not an actual cable man. He works with the cable receiver boxes; he doesn't actually "knock on doors and shit.")
HP: A tennis shop? Like, Serena Williams-type tennis? Let me get this straight — rappers eat Rice Krispies treats and play tennis?
Poppy: I work in shipping and receiving in a tennis shop. I ain't never fucked with tennis a day in my life.
Scooby: What's crazy is that work reality just set in. At first we was just bullshitting. Broke. Thinking some shit was just gonna come to us. All these niggas is lying sayin' they got all this money. That shit is dumb. I have no problem working. I got bills to pay, feel me.
HP: So talk about the sound. It's not your typical Houston stuff. It's more introspective. It's complicated. The structure is still there, but it's a new feel. Slightly East Coast digitized with Houston swag minus the thuggery. Is that something that you made an effort towards?
Scooby: We've just always been dope rappers, regardless.
HP: That's the best answer, ever.
Todd: It's a streetwise feel. Someone who knows the dope dealer can sit with the dope dealer but ain't a dope dealer. Someone who knows a pimp can sit with a pimp but ain't a pimp.
Unique: It's just talent. We put thought towards reality. No swangin', no bangin'.
Todd: The mentors, too, they played a part. Hawk, Lil'O. If you ever listened to their material, they were always trying to do a well-rounded album. That rubs off on you.
Scooby: That boy Hawk was our biggest mentor. We was on the road with him. It was a process. The Screwed Up Click movement brought everyone to the light. Hawk took us on everything he was doin'. If he was performing he wanted five mikes, one for each of the GRiT boys, you know what I'm saying? He'd give us a nice chunk from the show, everybody eatin', everybody sippin' drank, everybody smokin' weed. That boy really showed us how to share. How to be real. Hawk did that.
HP: So gimme some juice. Who do you all hate? Where's the beef?
Scooby: You know what we really, just, really don't like?
HP: What's that?
Scooby: Bitch-ass niggas.
HP: Pfft. Who does?
Scooby: Nah, it's like, they wanna...they know you jammin', they know you hard, you know what I'm saying?
HP: Umm...not quite.
Scooby: It's like, they know that you got everything that could make you bigger than them, but they don't wanna fuck with you because you could pass them up. But then they act like you still cool with them. They ain't your friends but you kinda gotta be cool with them 'cause you gotta see them people everyday. It's like your boss, you know what I'm saying? You could be the best worker, but he's gonna mess with you 'cause he don't want you to get past his position.
HP: So basically, my boss is a bitch-ass nigga? Got it.
Scooby: Ha. Nah, I'm saying, that's how niggas is.
Todd: I'll go on record and say that I don't like the Houston music scene. It's not sincere.
HP: That's what I was curious about. Because from the outside looking in, it seems like it's love all the way around, like one big happy family.
Todd: No. It's not sincere.
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Scooby: There's certain...we ain't gotta say no names. There's certain rappers that are real and are cool, but all these other niggas is fake, so it's a relationship you gotta work. It ain't nobody specific, but there's certain niggas, they famous, whatever, you know what I'm sayin'? But they do little girl shit. They holla at you when it's convenient for them, you know, when they want you to do something. But then, when you try to get with them they don't hit you back. That ain't real, dawg. These famous niggas came from the same point you at, but they act like they forgot about that shit.
Todd: I feel like a lot of people go get in their corner and laugh and point fingers, like, "Ha, ha. I knew they weren't gonna do it." You know what I'm saying?
Scooby: Them niggas be doin' weak shit. Like, sayin', "Go get them" or "Don't use them" or "Put them on the radio." They be trying to hull us. They be doin' that to everybody.
Todd: I don't think they're trying to just hull us. For some reason, people in Houston don't get that if we worked all together we would go a lot further. We need to make one big independent label. I help you, you help me. But it's gonna be hard to get to, y'know. But if we could do that, no one could touch Houston.