New Houston Rap: What if We Had a Bobby Shmurda?
In the span of four months, hip-hop has found its latest winner of the Chief Keef/Trinidad Jame$ Memorial Trophy. You may remember those two, both of whom were signed due to viral hype -- Keef mostly off the strength of what he's accomplished to the teenagers of Chicago and Jame$ solely off "All Gold Everything."
To date, only one of them has released an album, Keef's Finally Rich. Even though it produced one of my favorite hazily remembered songs in "Love Sosa," Keef couldn't promote the thing for being constantly in and out of jail; he's currently in Interscope limbo. Meanwhile, after reaching a plateau with "Gold," James tried to release a second tape called 10 Pc. Mild, but it didn't capture anywhere near the same type of buzz that his previous release Don't Be S.A.F.E. (and to an extent "Gold") had. Like Keef, he's in limbo, albeit over at Def Jam.
The latest moment belongs to Flatbush, Brooklyn's own Bobby Shmurda. He's a relative kid of 20-year old, Jamaican descent and has a buzzing hit single that as of yet more or less exists in the nebula of New York City and the East Coast. The reason why you may even faintly know him? The "Shmoney Dance," which looks more like your drunken uncle throwing his hands up and cocking them in a 90-degree angle before swaying left and right. The viral clip has racked up plenty of numbers on Vine and throughout social media, and has now landed Shmurda a deal at Epic Records.
Here's why Shmurda may find himself in line with Keef and Jame$. The song itself isn't all that spectacular, it's beat borrows from a forgotten Lloyd Banks track "Jackpot" and that's all because Banks is the antithesis of 50 Cent in terms of promoting a product. But it exists because we've been pulled into a world where it has to exist. Where Chicago's drill department can get a New York offshoot and the only complaints you're going to get about it comes from folks on social media.
Scarface, he of the low baritone and ground-shaking notoriety, recently jumped on Twitter and stated "Respect All Houston Rappers" before calling for outright support from fans. Would he cosign a viral moment from a Houston rapper? Possibly, because as long as Houston's mixture of club and trap music continues to push on, that moment will occur.
Give it one dance, probably to a BeatKing track or any number of popular club singles making their way into DJ Mr. Rogers' radio mixes and boom -- it'll happen. Until then, we're going to enjoy these days of trap music getting bigger and bigger notoriety in Houston than ever before.
Drastik, Dreams of Coming Up Around 2010, a trip to Austin for a Dom Kennedy concert (and, to a larger extent, an interview with Hollywood FLOSS) led me to discovering Drastik, a Houston-to-Austin transplant who rapped with a live band and enough energy to sweat through damn never every piece of clothing he had. That night, he made a fan and four years later he has an album on iTunes, Dreams of Coming Up that takes small cues from his different evolutionary points (head of a rap/rock band, solo MC).
What Dreams of Coming Up wants to achieve, like many debut projects, is to carve out a signature sound, a launching point where listeners can derive more. Drastik has a story, a ready-made video in "You Know" where he pretty much goes through an NFL training regime to prepare for future success, but that isn't the song that will ultimately make you consider Dreams of Coming Up. No, that distinction belongs to...
BEST SONG: "H-Town" -- here's why. It follows right behind the hypersexualized "Feel Like Heaven" and for a straight up record that snakes around and beads down the block like sweat down your cheek -- this is it. Every tried and true Houston anthem has that type of feeling attached to it: the moments where it name-drops recognizable areas, immediately isolates grinding out work above being outrightly loved by a woman. That's Houston in a kind of nutshell -- work until your bones rub against one another and then rest on your laurels. Buy On iTunes
Chedda Da Connect feat. Boston George & BeatKing, "Flicka Da Wrist" Fred On Em's piano chords and drums heavier than Dusty Rhodes' elbow carry "Flicka Da Wrist," but that could be said for any trap track these days. Nope, you need charisma to make these things truly work and Chedda Stacks has it, all through some asthmatic pauses between threats and statements of success.
"I woke up feeling like I was on the moon!" sounds like a triumphant yelp more than a statement. The original cut featured Dallas' T-Wayne, but the remix has our current kings of the 713 pyrex in Boston George and BeatKing, who slides in a "flickadey" for good measure.
Story continues on the next page.
Reggie, "More Reggie" This may be the first open statement by a rapper regarding gentrification that I've heard in a while. A few weeks ago, Reggie, a 19-year-old from Sugar Land, detailed how his suburban upbringing made his rap life vastly differs from that of his peers. Ask some of them who live in Katy or live near the Medical Center.
So with "Varsity Reggie" he wants to put on for all those rappers like him who don't adhere to the same standards of competition. Which is fine; just know that most suburban rappers are some of the most talented. Or those currently residing in the suburbs are some of the more talented.
Preemo, "Dreamin In July" For months it seemed we couldn't get a word out of Preemo following the tragic shooting that left him hospitalized for a few weeks around this time last year. Somehow, either thanks to Tony Dark's gripping production on his own reluctance in regards to staying silent, he recants that harrowing day in "Dreamin' In July."
There may not be a more honest rap tune released in Houston this year, mainly because of Preemo's imagery. Every show you cautiously watch while cracking jokes, such as Law & Order and First 48, all became reality for the rapper. He takes the second verse to glimpse back on how the night would have ended differently, if he didn't go and try and get that backpack or even get on that bus. He thinks of his son, he thinks of his girl, he thinks of life. He wanted a second shot and got it.
Hollywood FLOSS, "Act Like You Won Before" Really, there's not that much that hasn't been said about Hollywood FLOSS at the moment. Of Houston's elite MCs, he's still the most frequent to put out material, even two-minute loosies such as "Act Like You Won Before." Pair him and Chris Rockaway together and this kind of understated rap is what you get.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.