#NewHoustonRap: GT Garza Keeps the Machine Moving

#NewHoustonRap: GT Garza Keeps the Machine Moving

At the beginning of his brand-new album, MM3, GT Garza admits to taking antidepressants and being lost, enjoying solitude in most cases because he doesn’t feel like being bothered half the time. It’s not a strike to highlight mental health as much as it is Garza narrating the checks and balances of his life. When he’s not fighting battles by his lonesome, the Brown By Honor rapper has put both of his feet forward, clutched his rosary and spoke his truth. People listened.

Garza has gone from being broke to being moderately healthy in financial terms. And yet, he still has aspirations of moving to the next step. There’s no schism in his plans for the future, no separation between being an old-school hardhead and a new jack who would rather plant a flag for charisma over actual bars. It’s why most of MM3, which underwent a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it release in April, is surrounded by dark productions from a gang of producers who zeroed in on a simple concept. GT Garza is a rapper trapped inside his own head and ambitions, and he’ll tell you about it every chance he gets.

The happier, less combative tracks released before MM3, such as the Big Moe-inspired “U Remember,” are nowhere to be found on the final product. In its place are records populated by singular topics of survival, self-preservation and victory. R&B singer Shun Ward is the lone feature on the album, appearing on “We Won” & “Ride,” and Garza may like it that way. Previous albums, such as 2015’s La Maquina and 2014’s The Legend of Ritchie Valens, were packed with Houston rappers from Mookie Jones to Z-Ro all helping lift the bar with Garza.

Now he bears all of it alone, discussing paranoia and wisdom from the family matriarch. Death isn’t a strange subject for Garza; after all, his friend Leonard Carter lost his life some 15 years ago at Lamar High School.  “I got too much on my mind,” he raps on “We Won” while tap dancing over piano keys in a double-time rhyme pattern. It’s beyond the childhood raps and the squeaky timber he first burst on the scene with. Now everything from him rests squarely on his faith and finding a middle ground.

Mexican rap stars in Houston have a fan base that exists in the way that Screwheads used to maraud around the city. If you heard anybody banging old dusty gray tapes, you knew exactly who was on it and would ask where to cop one for yourself. Garza’s fan base frequently flocks to Warehouse Live every year when he stages a major show, often surrounded by a cast of fellow Mexican rappers who carry the torch of not only national pride but culture as well.

It’s scary to believe we’ve been writing about GT Garza as a rapper on the verge of breaking through since 2009, back when he was a 24-year-old still looking back with the intent of looking ahead. On “Moment to Vent 3," he offers more admissions of prayer for not just his supporters but those who don’t believe in him. To his fans in the Valley, the stretch of South Texas that contains larger pockets of Mexicans who settled beyond Mexico and never planned on leaving their small, uncomplicated lives. To the OGs who tried to keep his knucklehead ways in check.

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Two years ago on Ritchie Valens, he spoke highly and often of his faith, constantly praying to God and hoping that others would do the same in order to find salvation. It’s not “Christian rap," though Chance The Rapper and others recently have bucked the closed idea of who can actually participate in “Christian rap." In a city where a former cathedral for Hakeem Olajuwon is now home to the city’s biggest megachurch, Garza just aligns himself in the same world of Z-Ro, Scarface and others. God lives in them; the message just comes out a little differently.

“Got diamond tears on my Jesus piece,” MM3 standout “Diamond Tears” recites. Without any of the calamity or pressure, GT Garza sticks to what he knows best. What’s gotten him beyond being a precocious teen freestyling on the back of school buses and on the precipice of standing higher than he did the day before. What’s Garza’s cross to bear now that he's in his thirties? Being human, and the aspect of leading himself to a higher plane — not just for himself, but his people too.


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