This is about Show Louis.
Five years ago, Show Louis went by Rock Show. I met him at a mixer for another artist at SF2’s now-defunct Southwest location. His eyes were low and he happened to wear a fitted hat, but he couldn’t help but mingle with plenty of rappers he was actually better than. Even if they didn’t give him props in public, they mentioned it behind the scenes. That’s the first thing to remember about Show Louis — public admiration and acknowledgement of his talents is hard to come by.
Five years ago, Show Louis released R.N.C, a very populated and at times bloated Houston rap tape that explored plenty of his personality and firmly placed him near the top of Houston rappers who bled authenticity over anything else. MUG of the Stomp Down Soldiers appeared on the tape as well on “Rush," a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it oasis of gangsta rap that didn’t feel like it was made for the big screen. It was gritty, it was honest. Rob Gullatte was still going by Kritkal at the time, and appeared on “Rush." Yung Quis of ABN, who has pretty much always gone by Yung Quis, also appeared. It was on R.N.C and the subsequent Loud Howard that Show became one of the city's best and beautifully scarred gangsta rappers. Depending on who you ask, Show ranks right there with Bleeda, his long confidant Gullatte and J-Dawg in terms of captivating audiences with autobiographical raps.
A few years ago, Show Louis was in mourning, sour even. The mother of his young daughter had recently died. For reasons never completely made public, he’d spent almost much of an entire year behind bars before he was once more back on the streets. As often as he could have vented and turned towards the darkness, Show Louis always stuck to rapping and making blunt, almost paradoxical observations about life in general. Show Louis can say he’s been fucked with by the universe on multiple occasions. He still wants to find a black mask and a metaphorical gun to rob the universe without any emotional ties to it.
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Last year, Show and Gullatte teamed for Sophisticated Savages, an angry, outspoken rap tape that still stood with plenty of vigor when the dust for year-end awards settled. Then Show released Love & Drugz last Friday. Much like R.N.C., a few things have remained the same. Show is still losing people, either to the penitentiary or to the grave, and they all get their flowers within the tape's first 15 seconds.
- MUG reappears. He’s here on “Magenta," a Pugtunes track that sounds like nothing but 200 people elbowing you in the back of your head over disrespect. MUG’s voice speaks from the grave, a hint of space and reverb that pushes him just above the entire track like he’s levitating. “If I get caught, I can’t say it was all for nothing,” he says about doing dirt and wanting to be involved in 96 percent of the deals at all times.
- The quirkiest thing about “Magenta” is that Show Louis plays on a “center” metaphor by referencing Wilt Chamberlin and Lew Alcindor. The two of them? Arguably the most dominant for their time. And somehow all Show wants to do after all of that is play “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. He’s a different type of maniac, I swear.
- Trae Tha Truth appears on “Outlaw,” which kicks off like it was a bonus cut from the Tombstone soundtrack. “All my life I’ve been a problem,” Show admits, almost coping with the title and outlook of life because survival is all he knows survival. Trae, about as scarred as any solider for the truth can be, doubles down on the sentiment by listing off a multitude of reasons to act accordingly before Jesus comes.
- What’s a life lesson from Show on Love & Drugz? “I’m so gone I can't even feel no pain/ Don’t ever wanna come back down." That’s from “Back In Them Dayz."
- DeLorean appears on the tape’s closer, “The Code,” with sprinkling keys and Show looking back at the time he was shot by a man fueled by cocaine, but sticking to the things that make him smile: his daughter and a check. Also, he’s weary of what he even tells his friends, even rap beef. “I had some issues with a rap nigga/ I ain’t never tell my potnas cause they clap niggas/ When there’s a problem…” DeLorean’s offers the last sentence on Love & Drugz — “I’m Steph Curry with the last shot, Cash out, every B hit me got a stash spot…”
Love & Drugz is the year’s first hard-boiled rap tape, another honest moment from Show where he could easily relapse into doing dumb shit but refrains not to. Remember how Jay Z rapped it was a full-time job not to kill people on “Streets Is Watching”? Same applies for Show. He’s just working for other things now.