Houston's history is dotted with albums that, fairly or not, have been swept aside. We'll examine them here. Have an album that you think nobody knows about but should? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summertime Johnny Version 1.9 (Self-released, 2011)
John Dew is a rapper. He is part of The Council, a rap group consisting of Dew, hasHBrown and Phonix, as well as T.H.E.M., a rap conglomerate consisting of Dew, hasHBrown, Phonix, Hollywood FLOSS, Kidd the Great, Dustin Prestige, Thurogood Wordsmith, Rob Jay, Nya and EWood the Kid). Out of all of the people involved in both of those entities, Dew might be the most casually talented rapper.
He moves through tracks effortlessly, always sounding in control and occasionally sounding like he knows something that nobody else does. He has three tapes thus far, with this STJv1.9, a hodgepodge of sounds and ideas, serving as his first proper album.
Y'allmustaforgotability: 89 percent
Best Song on the Album: This is a sticky one. We'd like to pick "Joe Clark" because any rap song that's based on a Morgan Freeman character should get preferential treatment. If someone makes a song called "Shawshank Redemption," we will burn this motherfucker to the ground.
But "Hot Route," which makes clever use of a Lakeside(!) sample, is the most fundamentally sound and immediately charming. Winner.
Worst Song on the Album: The mechanical "Let Your Hair Down." Go ahead and delete that one from your iPod. Unless you're a T-Pain fan, in which case you should go ahead and delete yourself.
Best Feature on the Album: Every time you start to count out (or wonder what happened to) Hollywood FLOSS, he pops his up like, "Hey, fuckers, remember me?" He wins here for his work on the nuevo-Motown* "Satisfy You."
* Actually, a sample of Chaka Khan's "Sweet Thing" (performed by Mary J. Blige, we believe) is used here. There are several enjoyable samples used on the tape. Other good ones: "Richest Man Alive," performed by The Dramatics and used on "Richman," and "Somebody's Watching Me," performed by Rockwell and used on album opener "Watchin'."
Most Interesting Argument To Have With Yourself After Listening to the Album: Is it better to have an album full of singles or an album with a single intent?
Here's what we mean: Earlier this year, hasHBrown released Relationsh*t, generally regarded as one of the city's best musical projects of 2011. A large part of the reason it was so impressive - besides the extraordinary "Forgive Me Not" - was because it felt like a solid piece of something. Each song served as the set-up for the next one and follow-up to the previous one; it all functioned as a unit.
Conversely, STJv1.9 exists more as a collection of singles. None of them are especially buoyed by anything else on the album. "Joe Clark" has nothing to do with "name" has nothing to do with "name" has nothing to do with "name." They can be strung together through common themes (mostly women, money, etc), but that's mostly happenstance.
It is like an all-star team, if you will; and how much long-term listenability you assign this album (i.e. whether you think it is bad, good, great or all-world) will speak to the fundamental nature of your character.
Obscure Fact You Can Pawn Off As Your Own So As To Make Yourself Sound Insightful:
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John Dew is a math teacher at an inner-city school. True, true, true. We couldn't stop thinking about that every time he said a curse word or referenced drugs, drinking or sex. Such is life.
Download Summertime Johnny 1.9 on iTunes.