Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past Saturday night, a purple bastard named Cole (who is neither very purple, nor that much of a bastard) hosted the first annual Fly Fest at Walter's on Washington. It was a show meant to highlight the city's prospering underground hip-hop scene.
Fly Fest featured nearly 30 acts over the course of 14 hours. We picked out the strongest three-hour block, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. featuring Hollywood FLOSS, D-Risha, Kyle Hubbard, hasHBrown, Simple Success and Fat Tony, and sat in on that.
The names in bold, were the ones we specifically set out to see. We had only heard about the other two in passing. Our bad, apparently, because they were both pretty boss. (More on Simple Success later.)
D-Risha is a new-age throwback MC - we're aware that's a bit of an oxymoron, but there's really no other way to describe him; he's all boom-bap cadences and snare snaps - yet another performer to keep an eye in Houston's sudden underground hip-hop explosion.
As soon as he stepped offstage, we set up an interview with him to talk about 2010's Top 10 rap heroes thus far (The first half ran yesterday.). Read D-Risha's 10-6 picks here, and hit the jump to see who (and what) made the Top 5.
5. The Houston Underground: I kind of touched on this with my mention of Purple Bastard, but I don't know if anyone has noticed but Houston is in the middle of a renaissance right under its nose. Showcases like One Mic Houston and Turning Headz has given birth to an ever-growing group of eclectic MCs who push the boundaries beyond the screw-influenced vibe of its predecessors like the SUC or Swishahouse.
You have collectives like the Rogue Scholars (Dirty-N-Nasty, Crazy 8, Ensane, The Forces and D-Risha) and T.H.E.M.(HasHBrown, Hollywood FLOSS and John Dew) with young vets such as Fat Tony and B L A C K I E, who are making headway in a scene draped in purple [and] poised to make an uprising with every passing moment. Hopefully the city doesn't sleep.
4. Eminem: Honestly, I feel like he is the comeback story of the year, from dealing with drug usage and rehab to coming back with his guest verse on "Forever," the Mariah Carey diss track, to his best effort do date (Recovery). I thought Relapse wasn't that bad, but it didn't get the shine it deserved. His story is one of redemption that has seen him get back into the spotlight while showing the new jacks that they cannot see him on a microphone.
3. J. Cole: In my opinion, this would be my Most Anticipated New Artist pick. He can flat-out rap. What I just said was a simple statement, but 80 percent of what is played on radio stations worldwide lacks this simple ability. He can create songs, has wordplay and delivery and it keeps you on your toes thinking about what he's gonna say next; what a true MC should stand for.
His ascension should sound the next coming of MCs, seeing that it is turning into a young man's game. In addition, a co-sign from Jay-Z isn't bad either. Add to the fact every verse he has spit, whether it be his or someone else's, has been fire, which stands out in this day and time.
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2. Trae tha Truth: Trae's decision to take on an entire radio station is the boldest move I've seen from an artist since you had groups like Public Enemy and N.W.A. who would buck the system if they didn't like it and not conform. He is essentially alone in this quest, and I haven't seen any big-time Houston artist come to his aid.
Whether he wins or loses the case isn't a question; it's his bravery that will be commended for years to come. And most real artists would never take a chance in risking his entire career to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone in the future.
1. Wiz Khalifa: I'm just starting to get into his music - and I think it's solid - but the reason why he is No. 1 on my list is because of his decision to not sign to Rick Ross's label or go on tour with Drake to further his own brand and do it on his own. That decision is unheard of in this day and age, where artists and labels are trying to cash in quick on a small buzz and left without much success at the end of the day.
If more artists followed this trend, the fans would be getting a lot of quality music to consume.