New Houston Rap: Summer Blockbuster Edition
There's a bit of evil in the world. You know, the kind that sideswipes your car and doesn't even leave a note. Or when somebody refuses to hear you out when you're trying to tell them something. This is one of those evil moments.
If you manage to spend a weekend anywhere in Houston, chances are you're going to deal with a crying baby or child. Said youngster will yell, scream and pout until the adult responsible for him or her yields. I'm not really an advocate of forcing a kid to be quiet, but there must be a hidden XBox achievement when you slam-dunk an annoying kid for disturbing your peace. See, sometimes you get to go to movies, and in said movies you will hear crying or a bunch of squealing teenage girls, who in movie theaters are the worst. Yes, text throughout the movie, set up plans for later, but not every moment in a movie deserves your fawning praise. Especially if you're watching The Fault In Our Stars.
These mixtapes, plus the RiFF RaFF album that finally arrives next week, are things to marvel at. You will cry in joy hearing them and in one case, might throw your ass in a circle.
BeatKing, Gangster Stripper Music 2 Summer Box-Office Level: Bout It Bout It With a Huge Budget
BeatKing uses two sides of his personality very well. One is the freewheeling funnyman who looks at viral moments as goldmines for material and his own personal success. The other is the one hardened by living in the Studewood section of Houston and the general scowl necessary to live on the Northside and not get into anything.
Gangster Stripper Music 2 is by far his most anticipated and best-known tape, far more even than his Club God series. If Houston rap had a right now Mount Rushmore, his jowls would take up half the granite. The big man from PV has managed to pull together a project that features not only Skinny Pimp but Gangsta Boo as well, so it not only sticks to what makes Houston's club life such a paradise of hedonism but also allows Dallas and Memphis to get in on the fun.
BeatKing is also a marketer supreme. There's interviews with 97.9, conversations and an 11-minute outro to digest between plenty of tough talk, Joel Osteen references and more. The "super thug" era of gangsta-rap music isn't quite over yet, long as 50 Cent can still sway nearly 50,000 people to buy in his words a "throwaway" LP. BK is lord of the strip club and enjoys carrying a gun for whenever. Yes, despite the fact he carries fists the size of Patrick Beverly.
Best Song That Isn't "Smile": "Pancake" -- it's a Mr. Lee production, so at its heart there will be some circus-like manifestations (murderous bass line, elevated synths and snares), but this is BeatKing in the pocket, his larger-than-life personality made even louder through screwed-up vocals and flair. "Carter wanna kill 'em, but I like my rap career," may be the most accurate statement a rapper with goons on his team has ever made. Download Here.
Stoppa, The YSL Project Summer Box-Office Level: Debonair Playboy Movie
Nearly two years in the making, Stoppa's The YSL Project comes in at a breezy pace. It's fat on self-production from the rapper, lean on guests (Prince Cannon is the only one) while balancing mid-level, trap-sized EDM and hard-hitting, bass-heavy Southern rap. As a concept, Stoppa is fully realized, confident in his own life and skills but also in actually crafting songs. "Is That a Stripper," with Cannon, is a R&B escape towards strip clubs and misdirection of job description and titles.
Best Song: "GDoubleOD" -- or maybe because I'm a sucker for a well-crafted track around a recognizable sample. The record in this instance is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Heads Will Roll," and as opposed to being a zero-to-100 party record, Stoppa makes things cascade, looking for his friends to record their fun night and make sure everyone is taken care of. In other words, the LeBron James logic of partying with your boys. Download Here.
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D. Randle & D. Rose, Randle Rose Summer Box-Office Level: Chris Rock Coming-of-Age Flick
Even if it was released back in February, D. Randle & D. Rose's self titled project feels more like it's worth your attention in the summer. Two-stepping and head-nods are all over, as Rose and Randle's lyricism adheres far more towards traditional rap records. The ones where Fantastic Four punchlines are welcome to eardrums ("What More Do You Want"), OutKast voice calls ("Slipping") and both outfitting themselves as Houston rappers who would rather rap about anything but Houston and the streets.
Best Song: "Zenith" -- sometimes you only need the bare bones to make things sound beautiful. E Classic's stretches out Randle/Rose's dynamic, previously noted jazzy template with patted-down hi-hats and bass, enjoyable and contained. Meanwhile the twosome amplify that with back and forth baton passed bars. At least here you know that straight up rap without any real affiliations to what Houston considers rap to be exists here. Download Here.
FREE PREVIEWS: Jack Freeman; "Mr. Incredible" If you're ready for Jack Freeman to make music about stealing your girl and paraphrase The Mack, then "Mr. Incredible" is for you. Appears on Freeman's Bliss EP, which lands today.
UZOY, "8th Letter" Know when's the last time UZOY, her name pronounced like the gun you bust out when supremely frustrated playing Halo, held a major point in your life? 2012, when her The [DEF]ignition tape put her on the precipice of being a major force. Then she toured for a bit, went back to school, gave up rap for a minute and then got her degree.
Now rap life is full-time for the former Lamar University chemistry major. "8th Letter" may be titled straight-up for Houston, but the influence of the H rides heavily, all over a low-riding-bass-heavy ode to Aaliyah's "One In a Million." Her voice remains unchanged, still clinging to masculine pop but employing a few Nicki Minaj-like strokes of strong femininity in a boy's game. Welcome back, La Pistola.
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