New Houston Rappers Salute DJ Screw's "June 27"
So sayeth Thugga.
Historically, the importance of DJ Screw's original "June 27" track is monumental. It is, essentially, slurry Houston rap's Sistine Chapel ceiling, responsible for an almost uncountable number of eventuals, including but not limited to Yungstar's momentary transcendence (which had untold effects as well), starting the crystallization of Big Moe's icon status, and making "D Moe" the answer to one of Houston rap's great trivia questions. (Whose birthday were they celebrating when they recorded "June 27"*?)
There may not be a more beloved collection of Screwed minutes in existence, impressive considering that, pertaining to beloved Houston personas in general, DJ Screw rates near the top as well. (Beloved Screw Minutes × Beloved Houston Personas=Beloved x^2; that's an exponential growth in belovedness, yo.)
It is, for sure, a tribute-worthy track. And earlier today, Kane, Le$, Delo, Propain, Kirko Bangz and Marcus Manchild, six of the deadlier venoms within the New Houston Collective, paid homage to Screw when they leaked their version, politely titled "June 27 Tribute."
There are several plot lines/talking points that will inevitably spiderweb off from here.
There are fun ones: "This is the first time these guys have appeared on the same track, and the first fully vetted, fully independent group track like this, so an obvious question emerges: How do they perform here, ranked relative to one another?"**
There are perfunctory ones: "How would Screw feel about this if he were here today?"
And there are, of course, scandalous ones that are variations of criticisms already floating around: "Who anointed these guys leaders of the new school?"
But perhaps the most interesting, most fulfilling, is an historical one: "Did these guys, this not-at-random bundled together segment of New Houston's populace, potentially just record a song that captured 2011 Houston rap's spirit?"
They may have.
There are other new rappers in Houston who could've kept up here, that's for certain, but nobody on it is especially weak or unnecessary. What's more, they all are, if nothing else, potential local stars, and proclamations that one or more of them will pop nationally don't sound like exaggerations, which is essential if you want to draw parallels from the original to the new.
Manchild is unquestionably talented and, serving as his own boss at the AMG label, finally has someone that he can trust entirely to make career decisions for him (himself).
Delo, who currently owns the Who's Made The Best Underground Tape This Year? award, continues to shine.
Pro has garnered praise from just about anyone that's listened to him, and his sound has already seen a marked (and purposeful) improvement since last year's #Departure.
Le$, the youngest, most charming Outlaw, is cultivating his fan base surely, refusing to be nudged towards anything that might dovetail off into mundane rap.
Kane has already firmly established his role in the takeover.
And Kirko continues to ponder his way towards to national acclaim (hopefully when he gets there, someone will finally be able to tell him what her name is, what her fuckin' name is).
A point made in this space back about DJ Screw during the countdown of Houston's most important albums:
"Screw was the aural king of populism, the founder of a wildly meditative subgenre of rap that did more than just net the zeitgeist of his time; it created it."
The "June 27 Tribute" can never stand taller than the original, and nobody will ever argue that it does. All of the guys on it have already proven themselves to be extremely deferential towards Screw's legend and impact. But that doesn't appear to be the point of it.
"June 27" was recorded when a couple of guys got together and made a song simply to make a song. It just happened to age itself into greatness.
This tribute has the potential to do the same.
Or it could not.
Sometimes you just think about this shit too hard, y'know. Just download it.
*OG Ron C is excellent. When asked what D Moe's role was, he responded: "He didn't have a role. He was just the homie."
**Per standardized rankings, they file out here, first to last, as: Manchild, Propain, Delo, Les, Kane, Kirko. Mind, that is not to say that any of them are bad, the point that they all fall within arms reach of each other on a positive scale was covered above, but there's only one first place ribbon at the fair.
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