It seemed like an okay enough idea, until it became impossible.
"Slim Thug will be participating in a panel at the University of Houston discussing anti-bullying from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning," the e-mail said. "Meet up with him afterwards for an interview."
WHEN IT WAS AN OKAY ENOUGH IDEA
8 p.m. Tuesday, November 30, at House of Blues, 1204Caroline, 888-402-5837 or www.hob.com/houston
Saturday, November 13, 9:13 a.m.:
As curious as the thought of Slim Thug's imposing 6'6" frame delivering any kind of "Don't Pick on People" speech seems, it could totally happen.
The anti-bullying PR push, an initiative shoved face-first into 2010's headlines following a bizarre and unfortunate string of intimidation-related suicides, is a marketable enough campaign. And Slim, who matured to success in an underground world too daunting for most to figure out, is a savvy enough marketer.
Witness the recent reinvention of his appeal online.
Several months ago, he signed onto Twitter at the suggestion of ex-Destiny's Child member, current solo artist and former love interest LeToya Luckett. She told him it would help people understand that he was not, in fact, an asshole.
This was an astute observation. From afar, Slim Thug appears as thorny as most of his contemporaries. Up close, he's a humorous, even-tempered man who still doesn't seem entirely comfortable under the spotlight, which gives him a surprising amount of humility.
As soon as he started tweeting, he loved it. Anything Slim thought, Slim tweeted.
"Twitter is the best fucking thing in the world," he says by phone a few days later.
On Twitter, Slim once explained how he tried to find someone to sift through his poop to find a diamond he thought he had swallowed. Another time, he posted a photo of what appeared to be him having sex in a bathroom, later saying it only looked that way.
This may have even been true; either way, a topless woman was sitting on him in a restroom. Yet another time, he imagined a world in which a marriage license could expire like a driver's license.
Slim Thug's fellow tweeters appreciated his candor. His name began ringing out as much as it ever had, creating a 2.0 version of the organic buzz he generated by pounding the pavement a decade ago.
He figured Twitter's hustle out. Successfully talking about bullying doesn't seem any less likely.
But this doesn't happen. He never materializes, not even after his manager sends out a matter-of-fact text message that states, "We in the back."
WHEN IT BECAME AN IMPOSSIBLE IDEA
Saturday, November 13, 11:02 a.m.:
Slim's absence shouldn't have been a surprise.
Our discussion was scheduled on a Saturday between 8 and 10 a.m. One would assume that Slim Thug does not operate between those hours, at least not coherently.
For another, it was taking place at the University of Houston. His records are titled "My Bitch" and "Everybody Loves a Pimp," not "My Statistics Professor" and "Everybody Loves a Good Midterm Grade," for a reason.
Slim Thug's skill set is engineered to thrive within a very specific domain. Academia is not it.
For another, Slim has recorded roughly 400 songs over his now nearly decade-long career, roughly 400 of which — explicitly or implicitly — describe some form of bullying. Slim Thug speaking out against bullying is like Slim Thug lecturing on the chemical properties of magnesium: He likely doesn't know shit about it.
But the actual reason is entirely medical. More or less.
"Man, Slim got sick as fuck," says his manager, standing in a lobby area several minutes after the bullying panel lets out.
Slim, in other words, will not be making an appearance today. His manager's eyes look sympathetic, so it's hard to tell whether or not he's lying. Assuming he is seems unnecessarily negative.
The reason why Slim "got sick," it turns out, is sort of the same reason why we were supposed to interview him in the first place.
The night before the panel, Slim celebrated. Hard. He had officially completed Tha Thug Show, the third official full-length album of his locally illustrious career. There was weed, Slim recounts later. There was Patrón. There was wine.
Almost any combination of the three, as any doctor will tell you, leads to being sick as fuck.
Tha Thug Show is positioned to be Slim Thug's best, most successful, album to date.
The precocious rapper's 2005 debut, Already Platinum, spawned two schools of thought:
1. It was awesome, his new fans said. They appreciated the dichotomy of the feather-light Neptunes producing several tracks.
2. It sucked, his longtime fans said. They did not appreciate the dichotomy of having the feather-light Neptunes producing several tracks.
The insular nature of Houston rap caught Slim in a bind. He was stuck between appeasing his core fan base, which willed him into fame, and his new fan base, which could keep him there.
It took him four years to choose which one to heed. But when he did, it was immediately clear which way he went.
The only non-Houstonian featured as a guest on Slim's 2009 follow-up, Boss of All Bosses, was Alabama's Yelawolf, who sang all of one hook. Boss had zero digitized, airy, Neptunian soundscapes; everything was hard-nosed and mean-spirited.
Every thump had a purpose, every line addressed Slim Thug's malfeasance. "Bitch, I'm back," he roared.
It was a classic Houston rap album, and nobody paid attention. Its first week, Boss sold 32,000 copies — nearly 100,000 fewer than Already Platinum.
Tha Thug Show appears to synch all the moving parts. For every song Southern rap fans will love — Z-Ro-aided street single "Gangsta" is already as beloved as any song Slim has ever released — another is less regionally oriented. "So High," featuring buzzy pop rapper/singer B.o.B., is the smash single-in-waiting Boss of All Bosses lacked.
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Enough home folks (Lil' Keke, 'Ro, Devin, Mr. Lee) are involved to appease H-Town's old guard, and enough outsiders (Rick Ross, B.o.B., Big K.R.I.T.) to attract those who prefer their rap a little poppier.
"I'm the type of person out in the club and in the streets. I heard what [longtime fans] were saying with Already Platinum," Slim says. "As classic as Boss of All Bosses was, my new fans from Already Platinum weren't feeling it. This new one is a combination of the two."
Slim has somehow managed to keep a foot in both camps without compromising either, a display of artistic maturity that began with an @ and some hashtags.
Twitter is the best fucking thing in the world.