Houston has no shortage of rappers these days. Given the odds of success, it's amazing how many people still want to pick up a microphone and write rhymes.
Case in point: southwest Houston native D'Vontae Smith, otherwise known at BreakitdownDC. He's been on the outskirts of the local rap scene for several years, building some buzz with his group Honor Roll JBC (short for "Just Be Cool"). It was a trio, two rappers and a producer who leveraged all the social-media tools at their disposal and built an online presence one Youtube video at a time.
For a while, the group succeeded in making a small name for themselves in the city and throughout the state. But all that fell apart for unknown reasons when the members decided to go their separate ways after four years of hitting stages and performing opening sets for bigger-name acts such as Soldier Boy.
"The music I make now, it's 2000s hip-hop. It's really like Auto-Tune rock-and-roll rap," explains Smith, who goes by DC, or alternate rap handle King Kerosene. His time studying marketing at Lamar University in Beaumont helped him to build a business plan and take his music in a more serious direction.
"I definitely want a career out of it. With the next CD I have coming out in April, I kind of want to show my versatility and show the record labels that I can make mainstream songs, so that I can get signed and get the big budget," says DC, who likes to describe his style as "rage rap."
"It gives me enough energy to hang on the ceiling and really go hard," he says. The 24-year-old's upcoming release is a mixtape called Panoramic Pink. DC describes it as a collection that reflects on the journey to the East Coast he and his girlfriend made last summer. "I moved to New York in August 2016. I just got fed up with Houston," he recalls.
Personal matters brought him back, but while in Brooklyn, DC created his first solo album, Mucho Flame Emoji.
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His flows are brisk, and although the heavy Auto-Tune use makes him sound not unlike the type of music you hear bubbling out of Atlanta, DC's flows are unique enough that he doesn't get lost in the sea of up-and-coming rappers in Houston. He's also fashioned himself as something of a party promoter, helping to push a pop-up chill-out event called the Anti-party series.
A loft party held at a secret location, this weekend's installment will feature fellow hood-hippie types Tim Woods and Billy Racxx, both of whom have made some noise over the years. "It's not a normal party," DC explains. "The way you say it, 'The Anti-Party,' it sounds cooler than saying you're going to the club."
And while he's there, DC is hoping to sell a little merch and plug the release date for his collection of music. "The last time they had a big Connect Four, and video games, drinks and Jenga," he says. "It was super packed-out."
BreakitdownDC and others perform at this weekend's Anti-Party, which takes place from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. this Saturday, somewhere in Houston, RSVP at Eventbrite.com.