Local Rotation

Progressive in a city of sound-alikes, the Council breaks new ground.

The Council

Fresh-out-the-box local rap duo the Council is attempting to break from Houston hip-hop conventions. Just look at the cover of its debut, Relentless.

Sure, the boys are ripping off the whole white-suited stance DMX and Nas made famous on the poster for the movie/flop Belly, but at least they're not situated in another gaudy Oz-land Pen & Pixel job. These boys look like they got real money in their pockets and real gold on their chains.

Even if the Council-men, Dub Niche and Emanuel Curry, are yet another pair of playas whose general interests involve money, hoes and a fat sack of weed, they do make an impressive mark with their compositions. Thanks to producer Lee Johnson (with help from Mike City), Relentless is much more fluid than most local rap productions. Instead of going full tilt into Gulf Coast bounce, which they occasionally dabble in, they touch on the West Coast-tinged G-funk sound.

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Both Niche's and Curry's flows are brusque, which makes their hustle-man lyrics and hooks all the more charismatic. Sample the refrain from "Down fur Me": "I know some niggas that'll clown for me / Some boys that'll bust a rhyme for me / I know some women that'll pull their panties down for me." The duo also manages to score some local heroes for guest shots. On "Hold Up," Lil' Troy makes an appearance, along with Lil' Kim sound-alike Ms. Toi. And the boys also swap riffs with breakout-Houston-rapper-of-the-moment South Park Mexican, on the who's-the-bigga-figga-nigga, "Who Got tha Butta?" Lesser local stars also make appearances. The mike-swapping makes for dramatic listening.

To its credit, the Council sounds like it has its act together. Niche and Curry make the same shit we've heard before from the dozens of other Houston rapscallion rappers sound vivid and entertaining. Truth be told, the low-balling, low-riding dexterity of the Council is the closest thing to progressive H-town rap to come along in quite some time. Now you know that's a damn shame.

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