"I don't feel that I'm the best in Houston, but if you tried to argue it I bet you could prove it."
Here's the thing that Kyle Hubbard knows and that a few others around him know but that nobody that's not actively involved in his life not even those involved in the Houston underground rap scene could possibly really know: He is being overlooked.
I suppose that's a common narrative for a lot of underground artists, particularly those who regularly breathe in a city that has cultivated a healthy roster of deadly rap assassins over the last two years. But there's a caveat here, and even worse, a devastating multiplier.
The caveat: Beyond being just overlooked, he's not even being looked over. He has been, at times, simply disregarded.
Perhaps it's because he's white? Or perhaps it's because he's not cartoonishly confident? Or perhaps it's because his jaw slings outwards slightly and his glasses are just glasses and not a vehicle for irony so your brain clicks Backspace a few times after he's out of sight? Or perhaps it's because his rap name is his real name and his real name sounds it belongs to a taxidermist? Or perhaps it's because [SOMETHING] x1000? Who knows?
Nobody. (That's the point.) Because nobody is watching. (That's the point, too.) And that's why the multiplier is devastating.
The devastating multiplier: Hubbard is a talent.
Where many will be (should be?) rightfully ignored, it is a fate he does not deserve.
And fuck you, he's tired of it. Or at least talking about. (It makes up the majority of the talking point on his sophomore album, You're Not That Special.) And nowhere does he (or has he EVER, for that matter) address the conundrum more powerfully than on the predictably titled but unpredictably trenchant penultimate track, "Fly Or Die."
In what may well be the most idyllic battlefield of all-time, Hubbard asserts his worth, effortlessly considering his curious existence ("I know I ain't the best to do it, still feel I deserve the shine ") while admonishing the situation with honesty and backwards-walking logic ("My mother say she proud of me, but I can't think [of] a reason why").
Some chunks of wit from the song:
I'm worth your time.
Just total heartbreak right here. It's a remarkable thing to hear someone say this to you.
I paid 1,000 dues
Surrounded by a crowd of dudes ignoring me
you torture me to play it nice [incomprehensible]
and dap 'em up like "that's what's up."
This is an especially clever moment. There are an uneviable amount of tricky-to-negotiate moments during one's ascension to the top of a food chain, particularly for guys that aren't championed early on in their career.
[My mother] believes in me
yeah my father does as well
maybe they both dumb as hell?
The keepers of the fuckin' gate belittle what I struggle for
I've never been accepted by the inner circle
but I know that anything you love too much begins to hurt you.
A strong bit of songwriting, and affirmation that beyond other rappers, Hubbard's strife is encouraged by members of the media as well.
The truth is not the music
it's the listener's reaction."
There are no better moments of clarity than this one. It effectively negates any analysis ever addressed to any music ever, and effectively removes the things that have possibly restrained Hubbard's rise (other musicians and whatnot), Were it just emotion and honesty and nothing else, I would win, he seems to say. And the truth is he exists for that. The truth is, he's the shit at that.
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"Fly or Die" is a brutal and inspired three minutes and six seconds, and absolutely deserving of your contemplation. And You're Not That Special is good. And you fuckers are just going to ignore it.