Turnin' Headz The Backroom at the Mink July 7, 2011
10:18-10:50 p.m.: So, our intention tonight was to head over to The Mink for this Turnin' Headz underground rap showcase after going to see the premiere of new music videos from local rappers Montana, The Niceguys and Thurogood* Wordsmith at Sanctuary Lounge on Washington. However, there was some problem with file-conversions for the video DVD or whatevs so now they're not going to be able to play the videos until about 11 p.m., which basically means we came to Sanctuary Lounge just to hang out, and no one should ever do that.
Sanctuary is in the same building that used to house Block 21 used. Block 21 was cool and impressive and attractive; Sanctuary should've turned out the same, but it didn't. You know what it feels like? It feels like the way Mallory from Natural Born Killers made you feel. She probably should've been sexy - or at least attractive - but mostly she just felt unsettling and a little icked-out. Time to go before someone starts playing Eeny Meeny Miny Moe**.
10:50:07: *Heretofore, Thurogood Wordsmith will simply be referred to as Thurogod.
10:50:15: **That joke only works if you've seen Natural Born Killers.
11:07: And we're here. Walking in to the Backroom at the Mink. Curious to see how this show works out. Were you to rank the general reputations of the underground rap showcases in town (One Mic, Frontline Tour, etc) TH would be nearer to the bottom than the top.
11:07:15: The guy onstage, it's easy to immediately tell that he is good. Kyle Hubbard, nominee last year for the Houston Press Best Underground Rap music award, is standing at the back of the room. (He's always easy to spot at rap shows. He's the white guy.)
Approach him, shake hands. He leans in and says something that sounds like, "This guy is fucking badass." Good enough for Kyle Hubbard, good enough for the world.
11:09: Wow. This kid is not dicking around. He has a proper band with him, composed of a white guy on guitar, a black guy on drums and a black girl in those thick-framed glasses on bass. The guitar player is blistering his fingers all to shit during a fiery solo. Excellent.
11:11: They've just switched up the cadence. They're into some funky, summertime warmness. This is remarkable. Is this the quality of talent that Turnin' Headz concert series has been unearthing? Bravo. One for one tonight, we'd say. Aces.
11:18: Next act up. Called Gunna Gang. From Louisiana, apparently.
11:20: Oh my. How good the last guy was, these guys are the opposite. Poor things. The crowd has already turned on them.
11:22: One interesting aside: There are three guys in the gang that is gunna, However, there are only two microphones available onstage, so there's always one guy that is just sort of there, waiting for someone to hand one to him so he can do something fun.
This is not unlike those scenes in pornos where there are three dudes but only two girls, so the third guy just stands around doing his best not to be entirely awkward. Occasionally, the microphone-less guy will try shouting out into the loudness. Suppose that'd be the equivalent to the girl-less guy masturbating himself.
11:22:15: Ack. By the way, sorry for how explicit that last time stamp got. Wasn't anticipating having to type the phrase "guy masturbating himself" in a review of a rap show.
11:30: Things never got better for the Gunna Gang. You can appreciate their enthusiasm, but the show was a miss. One for two, Turnin' Headz.
11:34: Tygah Woods, another rap group from Louisiana, is up. The first thing their first guy says: I'm Lyric the Lyricist*. Uh-oh. This'll likely be terrible.
*An aside: After the concert, we went home and tried to dig these guys up online. Turns out, there's more than one Lyric the Lyricist in the world, which is some kind of something. The other one is a girl. Crazy.
11:36: Wait a sec.
11:38: Hey, these guys are neat. Solid chemistry, interesting sound, fun show.
11:45: Oh snap. They just cut into a rap version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It." Cool, cool, cool. They're kind of spazzing out right now. Score one for New Orleans. Maybe God shouldn't have done that whole Wipe Louisiana From Existence With Hurricane Katrina thing after all?
11:49: Some guy just bought what looks to be a margarita (not the slush one, the one with ice cubes in it). He comes walking back to his little concert group, says something to one of the other dudes, then offers his drink up. One of the guys takes the drink, slides the straw to the side, takes a sip, then hands it back. Is that cool now? Are guys allowed to share drinks with other guys at rap concerts now? What the fuck is happening right now?
11:51: Lyric the Lyricist is doing a song about shoes and everyone in here seems impressed. Good stuff. Score: Two for three.
11:57: Young Sensation is up next. They're calling him to the stage. Show, one of the more interesting underground rap personalities in town and an aggressive performer, will accompany him. Smart move. BTW, Show has a tape out right now called Loud Howard that you should download. It is, at times, gigantic.
11:58: Yo. Show is already shirtless. The show hasn't even started yet. That has to be a record, right? Yeah, that's a record. Quickest Shirt Removal During A Rap Concert: Show, -2 minutes.
11:59: Oh my word. Show has a giant scar running up the middle of his belly. What are the odds that he got it when he ripped his own stomach open one day just because he was bored or something? Oh, man. This guy is an absolute mystery. He needs some sort of special designation, some sort of cool grandiose nickname. From now on, here at the Houston Press offices and on all of planet Earth, anything bizarre or awesome or crazy that in any way cannot be immediately explained will be attributed to The Loud Howard Phenomenon.
You don't understand how baby sea turtles know to run for the water as soon as they're born? Duh, that's The Loud Howard Phenomenon at work. The mechanics behind the Internet a mystery? Not anymore: The Loud Howard Phenomenon. The creation of man? Loud Howard Phenomenon. Kevin James' movie career? The Loud Howard Phenomenon.
12:02 a.m.: Young Sensation is up now. Real quick: Since we're apparently renaming everybody today, let's rename him too. Young Sensation's new name is YS. It's cleaner, cooler and moderately less clichéd. YS sounds like a certified superstar. Young Sensation sounds like he works part time at Home Depot. Bam.
12:10: YS is a talented sir. He is clever (he once did a song over Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair") and fun (he's wearing a backpack right now, but would no doubt argue that he is not, in fact, a backpack rapper) and funny ("Yeah, you're favorite rapper, he's a fuckin' liar"). That said, can we please stop the thing where rappers rap over their own vocals?
12:16: "I'm first place in the money race, and my car's trying to get it; call that a Chevy chase." Slick. The anticipation surrounding YS's first proper project just got ramped up two pegs.
12:18: YS is to the good. That puts the official tally for the night at one great set (the bizarre FullMetal FDot), two good sets (Tygah Woods, YS) and one Also Ran set (Gunna Gang). ¾. That's a pretty respectable percentage.
Personal Bias: The Turnin' Headz franchise has a fairly ill T-shirt. Get one.
The Crowd: Got progressively smaller as the night wandered forward. By the end of YS' set, there were about five guys standing near the stage.
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Overheard in the Crowd: "Oh my god, Steve, this is SOOOOOO good. You simply HAVE to try it." We're not for certain that that's what the guy sharing his margarita said, but he could have.
Random Notebook Dump: At one point in the evening, a tall, rail-thin woman was walking around. By her side was a short, round woman. They looked like a capital "I" and a lowercase "o."