If you're the sort of hip-hop junkie who gets most of your news from Instagram, it probably comes as no surprise to you that Wiz Khalifa's 'gram-handle is @mistercap. Lord knows the "We Dem Boyz" rapper has certainly gotten a lot of use out of the name, having used it to photo-journal endless Love & Hip-Hop-style drama with his on-again, off-again ex-wife, Amber Rose, who just so happens to be the Internet's favorite bald-headed beauty/booty.
If you're over the age of 25 and find all of that a tad confusing, you're not alone. But no one was more surprised to discover the online exploits of @mistercap than Mr. CAP, the local South Park Coalition rapper who has been using that name since Wiz was a zygote.
"I have nothing to do with Wiz Khalifa," Mr. CAP chuckles. "I've seen his Instagram followers. He got five million followers on Instagram as Wiz Khalifa. I don't know if he sold himself short using @mistercap or what.
"I don't even know how to use Instagram," the rapper adds.
So what gives? Is Wiz Khalifa a Mr. CAP fan? Wouldn't be the first time that a mainstream rapper "borrowed" some swag from the Southside of H-Town. Has Mr. CAP got beef?
"I'm not looking for no type of beef at all; I just want to get to the bottom of what's really up," Mr. CAP says. "Everybody's been coming to be about it, because even though I'm not a mainstream artist with mainstream exposure, people know who Mr. CAP is. And that's me."
And it has been for a long time. Hell, he was basically born with the moniker: his government name is Cornelius A. Pratt, and C-A-P are his initials. Mr. CAP has been rapping since he was eight years old -- a little more than three decades, by his count. He was the child of a musical family, a distant nephew of the blues great Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and he grew up watching his uncles sing and play in their funk band, the Greer Brothers.
But as a new movement began sweeping the nation, Mr. CAP would take his family's musical legacy from funky to funky-fresh.
"When we was coming up as kids, hip-hop was really just hittin' in the late '70s, early '80s," Mr. CAP says. "We were just at the right age to really get it. When I first heard Kool Moe D and Kurtis Blow, I knew I liked rap. But then a few years later when I heard Rakim, that's when I really fell in love with it. That's when I knew for a fact that I was going to be a rapper."
His head already swimming with ideas, the young MC didn't have to look far to find a stage.
"The first show I ever did was in my grandmother's back yard," Mr. CAP says. "My uncles the Greer Brothers and my cousins and my brothers and my sisters, they built a stage in the backyard. One of my uncles was a carpenter by trade, and they built a real nice stage and charged people in the neighborhood $2 to come see us perform. That was my first performance in front of people."
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Soon, Mr. CAP says he was a fixture in the hip-hop circles around his Southside neighborhood, where he went to school and traded verses with future Screwed Up Click standouts Big Moe and Big Pokey at Yates High. After proving his microphone skill and his tireless work ethic, Mr. CAP was inducted into the highly influential Houston rap click South Park Coalition by its chief, Southside legend and Houston Press Hall-of-Famer K-Rino, whom the rapper says he met at (where else?) MacGregor Park.
Aside from a detour into computer science, Mr. CAP has made performing and recording his main priority ever since.
"It's my full-time job," he says. "I got a little side hustle that I do to keep a little gas money, money in my pocket to survive on. But my main gig is doing the music. I try my best not to hustle it. I try my best to do it on a level where I'm respected enough that people will pay me, even though I'm not a big-name artist."
That's the SPC way, and always has been. Mr. CAP's latest underground release, titled All Ism, drops on iTunes and Google Play on April 26, but he's been parceling singles out all year. The record has got the familiar philosophy and spirit of collaboration that fans have come to expect from the Coalition, with appearances by K-Rino, Point Blank and others. But if you're looking for a stripped-down, old-school H-Town sound, keep looking. CAP says that the new frontier of digital distribution has expanded the boundaries of who he hopes to reach.
"I'm trying not to limit myself to just the 'Houston sound,'" Mr. CAP says. "I've been really out here trying to create my own sound, No. 1. And I've also been making sure that I keep myself well-rounded enough that somebody on the other side of the planet can hear one of these tracks on here and go, 'huh!' I'm trying to reach everybody in the world. I want everybody in the world to hear my music."
And they may yet. After all, it seems as though at least one skinny, tattooed rapper from Pittsburgh is listening.
Mr. CAP will host a listening party for All Ism on Sunday, May 3 at Club Empire, 3101 San Jacinto.
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