When tonight's 4/20 concert, or Munchies Picnik, at Warehouse Live kicks off it'll be the first time that anyone holding less than four ounces of weed will be able to avoid a ticket and fine, due to a new City of Houston policy. Whether or not that will embolden more people to spark up the Mary Jane remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: the concert, headlined by New Orleans rapper Curren$y, has enough talent on the bill to not disappoint, high or sober.
Curren$y's performance in Houston on our national weed holiday is becoming an annual thing.
"For the last three year's we've had him locked in at Warehouse Live; it's a fun time," says Mike Meegz, the veteran Houston hip-hop promoter who landed a mix of local and national talent to perform at the presumably smoked-out event.
But what's particularly interesting for him this time is the local talent he's bringing to the stage, especially rappers he's seen grow up.
"Dice Soho, he used to come to every little pop-up show I ever had, and meet-and-greet, when he was a young kid, so it's good to see him doing well and have some steam," Meegz recalls.
"Curren$y I've seen, but I'm pretty pumped to see these new guys."
Another one of those is Billyracxx — who, like Soho, hails from Missouri City, something of a hotbed for Houston rap talent in recent years. Billyracxx, a rapper who likes to tweak and Autotune his voice, has done a slew of shows recently and is making his name as a purveyor of fashion and music videos. His eclecticism comes from time spent working on his rapper brand in Austin and New York. But the Orlando, Florida transplant says a lot of who he is comes from his upbringing in Mo City. "I don't know what it is, but there's a lot of young people getting money off of art," Billyracxx says. "Mo City is really unique."
In addition to rapping and releasing a short film and its accompanying soundtrack, both called Flamingos and Finches, he's becoming more visible on the Houston underground.
However, it's the film, which plays like an extended music video influenced by a Harmony Korine film, that has become Billyracxx's calling card and entry into his world.
"I'm fishing on the beach and then it shows me getting dragged in a net, but you don't see who's dragging me," he explains about the opening of the film. "The next thing you know I'm in a net, I'm struggling the whole time."
The visual is a sort of metaphor for how he's trying to break out of the trappings of contemporary hip-hop. "I usually don't explain this a lot. If you're really doing art you should leave that stuff up to interpretation," he says.
And if Billyracxx is going for the avant-garde, another Picnik performer is more relatable to fans of Houston rap. Dice Soho has been on a tear recently, doing shows nationally and building up a fan base thanks to his million-plus views on YouTube. He's now prepping for another concert tour after spending his first on Riff Raff's Peach Panther Tour.
As he prepares for his national Icy Tour, a national solo run that will start after his appearance in L.A.'s huge Powerhouse 2017 rap concert on May 6, Soho is also hoping for a spot on XXL's famed freshman cover.
The hip-hop magazine regularly showcases rising talent in a huge cover spread; this year several Houston names are competing for the 10th slot, including Soho, Ugly God and Maxo Kreme.
"It'll be real big, it'll be something I'll be really proud of," he says about earning a 2017 Freshman Class placement. But he's not letting that make or break his rise. "If I don't make it this year, I ain't tripping because I know for sure I'll make it next year" he said.
Soho is already deep into his rap career. He was lounging in the back of a sneaker store on a recent Saturday as part of a pop-up store selling his Icy Life merch. He already has fans who will pick up $25 shirts and $40 hoodies.
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Of course, what his fans are really thirsting for is the upcoming You Could Have EP, which is getting some production from legendary Houston beatmaker and recording engineer Mike Dean.
Soho says he's ready to take advantage of the 4/20 holiday with copious amounts of herbal medicine. "But I'm not going to smoke that much," he promises. "I want to be focused. I want to crowd surf."
Close to a dozen performers are slated to take the stage at the Munchies Picnik. It's a BYOW event, according to its organizer, and will feature food trucks with burgers and Cajun food, among others.