MIXTAPE OF THE WEEK: Lee-Lonn, Deprived In order for you to believe Lee-Lonn Walker isn't a charming dude who could take your girl and mine (and probably your best friend's), you'd have to also believe he doesn't exist. Crazy, no? That's him, though. He doesn't have the physically imposing stature of a contemporary like Jack Freeman, but does have one disarming charm that is undefeated -- a falsetto that doesn't ever quit.
Walker is no longer the precocious teenager who used to pop up at talent shows at the University of Houston, or seem like a choirboy who sung with his chest puffed up and his mind clear. No, he's an evolving presence, constantly seeing the world and making certain to leave his mark wherever he goes. The intriguing part is how it's translated into his music and how his instrument of choice -- that falsetto that aims to register more than a few swooning moments with his female audience -- has evolved with him.
His latest record, Deprived, doesn't lead off with a song discussing his growth as a man. It doesn't even start off with something to lighten the mood and charm listeners before the darker, murkier sounds come. "Detox" is what we're dealing with, a sex record of the best kind where none of the corny exists and the metaphors are top-notch. Steve-O and Bruce Bang strip away nearly everything from Walker to the point where his voice could double as the beat and the bass line underneath.
"What happens when we make love? It feels like heaven to me," he croons on "Shower," a charming number about a woman who has been on Walker's mind all day; he even can be clumsy in love, considering Chris Rockaway's guitars. But if you're really thinking that Deprived is all about sex and love, like a more nuanced Trey Songz album, you're mistaken. In its 19-minutes running time, it plays like a new-age love letter with dashes of lust, love, anticipation and even ripped-out sketches of ideas and thoughts. ("Naturala dedication," lasts only a minute.)
Best Track "Deprived": It's rather unfair, considering how strong the writing is on this EP. But the title track feels like an epilogue, a love letter to everybody who is going through something. There's no chicanery here, no cheap pops or tugs towards a select group. Everybody may not be getting laid ("Detox," "Shower"), and Bob Marley may not influence everybody, but everybody can at least play both sides of apathy and try to achieve something further.
TRACKS OF THE WEEK
BeatKing, "Ebola Freestyle" By the time you get done reading this column, "P.O.P, hold it dine" will have been in your life for the better part of a week and a half. It has already joined the pantheon of memes that are far better when known as jokes as opposed to extensions of fucked-up stories. For if you knew the actual story to Donna Goudeau and her "legally blind" claim, you'd be happy she's been in jail for the better part of two and a half decades.
Oh, that's right, BeatKing took enough time out of his Scandal marathon to grant us a freestyle where he takes Goudeau's voice, blends it into a neat little gumbo of trunk-rattling mass and cracks on Dallas' ongoing Ebola scare. Poor Dallas strippers, this entire thing is probably ruining your local economy.
Speaking of things in Big D, the Texans should have walked around chanting this track the entire time they were in JerryWorld last Sunday. Better yet, are we sure they didn't for all seven minutes they had on that second-to-last drive in the 4th quarter? (Sorry, that's the sound of me sobbing uncontrollably.)
DeLorean feat. Jack Freeman, "Focused" New rule: whenever I think I'm close to dying, I need Jack Freeman to magically show up to start singing about my pockets having no money but the lint being richer than anything else. Or something to that effect. I'm pretty sure that Jack's turn on "Focused," the latest roll-out from DeLorean, could sing about the struggle in 50 to 100 different ways and it will all sound like some Sunday gumbo you missed out on at church.
As far as DeLorean goes, he has one aspect down quite easily -- being easy to embrace. You get that at this point he could be a quixotic rapper from Missouri City who has released stirring tape after stirring tape, but that's not the only reason you keep coming back. "Focused" grinds along on top of Trakksounds' guitars and throat-punching drums with a singular hunger attached to it. DeLo is coming; prepare your speakers accordingly.
More new rap on the next page.
Doeman, "Andelé" The roll-out for Doeman's Gold Blooded album has been smart. You get to understand the singles just as they continue to be paired with visuals from Jorgey Films. Doeman is a superhero in his own mind, which is what "Andelé" is all about. After quitting his job and preparing to chase his rap dreams, Doeman hits the road witht the right amount of support and fan love. Everyone needs a crew who knows their position, and Doeman keeps a small but neat one around him.
Even when he chooses to dip in color, Jorgey Films knows how to make his subjects seem bigger than they are. Now, physically Doeman is around my height. He also carries a finite amount of charisma that makes his daily actions seem far smoother than everyone else's. "Andelé" is about catching up to the train as fast as you can while not making yourself look like a bandwagoner.
Dustin-Prestige, "Dopecoming" Remember how last week five different people from T.H.E.M. showed up to hype two MMA fighters getting ready for a battle? Well Dustin-Prestige ran the anchor leg. He, more than anyone else in that crew, knows how to use his instrument to deliver a deathblow.
A new Presto tape means we're going to once more travel inside the mind of one of Missouri City's best rapping exports. It also means we get to dabble in more Prestige and Chris Rockaway goodness. "Dopecoming" is the lead single from his upcoming Dope album, and slides perfectly between Prestige's two well-noted levels: rapping like a cold-blooded killer and being effortlessly suave while doing so.
There's the timely Adrian Peterson/Ray Rice line that works its way in like you'd sneak in a Scorpion-luring uppercut in Mortal Kombat, which is how Prestige works. He'll make you laugh while slowly dissecting you and telling you why you're nowhere near his level.
Ghost Boss, "Finessin" If you're currently not discussing how your plug is benefiting you or how everybody else who thinks they're a dope boy/gangsta isn't, you're not doing Houston street music correctly.
Ghost Boss, a relative newcomer, decides to pack every bit of this newfound definition of Houston street material into his "Finessin" track. It's certainly not the most inventive track in regards to its takes on making money and living lavishly, but he's getting somewhere in a fairly acceptable way.
Love Dominique, "Beautiful?" Discussing female R&B records in Houston almost feels like we're discussing rare items that come around every three to four years, or whenever Beyoncé decides to do something magical. It's a shame, but that's what we're left with. Love Dominique may figure in the larger scheme of things eventually, but her "Beautiful?" record deserves some sort of radio attention -- right now.
It's not often you hear someone of her stature, mostly dominant on records, sound so submissive and questioning what can she do to make her partner appreciate her, but "Beautiful?" does so. The melody may remind you of Memoirs of a Geisha, and Dom sounds like she's running through a list of things she's done just to get someone's attention: straightening her hair, going to the gym, basically taking away plenty of the things that make her who she is for the benefit of someone else.
It's a record that drips insecurity, at least from a woman's perspective in regards to a lover, but at least it's not the female version of Tank's "Maybe I Deserve." Better yet, let's forget that giant ball of simp and never speak of it again.
Mel of The Outfit, TX, "Dirty South Rydan" In August, this very publication awarded The Outfit, TX Best Hip-Hop Group at the Houston Press Music Awards. They're much like a previous winner of that category, the Niceguys: a group that may claim Houston as a base, but could really be anywhere considering how their sound still feels like a mental bridge between everyman funk and cosmos-splitting Southern rap. They have passes both here and in Dallas, so they're pretty much vouched for regardless.
Speaking of vouched for, Mel once more chooses to show off Dallas and its inhabitants for "Dirty South Rydan," a track from his Cognac album that dropped a year ago. "Old Dallas boy, you know I'm coming crispy clean," he raps in the opening minutes, stamping his Dallas roots with whispery pimp talk. The Outfit, TX may have relocated back to their home in the D, but they're one of the few Dallas exports we can deal with on a regular basis here.
Roosh Williams feat. Rabel, "Nightmare On Wax" Know something completely unfair to the overall well-being of human life? Roosh Williams knows good and well he could have torn MC Eiht's "Streiht Up Menace" and have called it "Nightmare On Wax." Hell, the first 30 seconds of the actual "Nightmare On Wax" leads you to believe such a crowning achievement is set to occur but no, Williams and feature guest Rabel opt for Pretty Lights' "Finally Moving" to rap and sing over, respectively.
West Coast points aside, "Nightmare On Wax" is Roosh's most subdued song since his last full-length's "PWC," which damn near decapitated Willie Hutch's "The Shortest Distance." Here, he tries to tackle everything from hazy dreams to bad relationships. "For better or worse I gonna ride with it/ 'Cause when I enter the Hearse I gonna die with it," he spits. Jeez, can the Rockets do something amazing to keep that from happening? Please? Thanks.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
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