The first roundup of acknowledgements of our Underground Rap Awards ran back in March. This is the second. There are 21 awards total and the entire piece is more than 1,700 words, so let's skip right past the cutesy preamble, shall we? Aces. Here we go:
Best Mixtape of the Year Thus Far:
It got crowded, didn't it? Hash, Propain, Dante, Fat Tony, Tawn, Mr. Wired Up (Oh Boy), UZOY, Doughbeezy, Show, Preemo, Le$, Tha Centop, O.N.E., H-Kane, Roosh Williams, Kyle Hubbard, D-Boss, Kritikal, Scooby, Herney, Poppy, Yung Redd, Hollywood FLOSS, Surreall, D-Risha, Dirty, Nasty, Undergravity, Renzo, Justo, Cuddy, Young Sensation, Young Script, KDogg, KAB Tha Don, Yung Truth, Jon Black...
They just keep coming, man. Every single day (it seems) someone new pops up, or someone who's already out there puts out new music, or both. Still, despite all 700 of the names you can throw out that are making music, one tape from one guy sits higher than the rest: Delo's Hood Politics Vol. 2.
The rankings below him ebb and flow a bit, but his tape has stood up as the strongest, the most consistent, since its release earlier this year. At this point, he looks like a shoe-in to land near the upper half of the Best Houston Rap Albums of 2011 feature that will inevitably be written this summer, remarkable considering last year Hood Politics Vol. 1 didn't crack the Top 16. That's a substantial, substantial jump, or, as it's also known, A Reverse LeBron James.
The "Yeah, They Pretty Much Got That One Exactly Right (Best Collaboration)" Award
Killa Kyleon, big brother to the new school, pulled on Lynnie Free's* coattails for "Make Me," a sultry, steamy R&B squish, and walked away with, arguably, one of the most enjoyable songs 2011 has produced. Mind you, not one of the most enjoyable songs in Houston; one of the most enjoyable songs in the country. That's not reckless hyperbole.
*Lynnie Free is Jack Freeman's nickname. He is far too cool to not have a ton of nicknames. So far, he's been tagged with that and Jack-O. Feel free to add your own.
The "Best Tweeting Rapper" Award
Slim is funny. Bun is insightful. Trae, Paul, Cham, Flip and Ro all offer their own appeal. But the most engaging, most rhapsodic rapper on Twitter is the wildly unknown KDogg (@KDOGG_BNFA). Whether he intends to be or not, nobody is as poetic about the mundane as K. Some examples:
"I jus DL tonz of porn on a Library computer, under @J_O_FELONY Login name... Even left a Video playin... #iAintbuHsHittin"
"Fina go Fuckaround in dis Library..."
"I'm n dis WalMart sHoppin w @Marvel_at_Arva.. I aint been to dis byitcH since I stole dem watergunz Last year."
"I respect niggaz singin from da HEART on sum real sHit, but allat simpin, Cryin n beggin aint Cool ifu a rookie."
He's like an accidental Tennessee Williams. See who wins "Best Tweeting Rapper" at the Houston Web Awards, featuring Fat Tony, June 30 at Momentum BMW on Richmond.
Most Anticipated Tape
This award went to Propain last time around. Considering that he still hasn't released Dangerous Mind, it has to go to him again, we suppose.
Also, are we just imagining this, or is Pro getting more and more mysterious these days? It's like he's turning into Chamillionaire 2.0, and that's making him even more interesting than he already was, right? Nutsos. And since we're on him already...
The "Nah, But Now It's Fuck You, Pay Pro'" Award
Winner: Propain. Now fuck you, pay him.
The "Yep, He Crushed That" Award
"This cup got me leanin' like tennis shoes on a fat dude."
Reggie Bush and Kool-Aid was fun in a lot of places, but nowhere on there was Doughbeezy as monstrous and/or destructive as he was on the second verse of "Pass The Swisher," the tape's two-and-a-half-minute tink-filled standout.
The "Wait, Whoa, Wait... Can You Say That Again Please?" Award
Killa Kyleon in Marcus Manchild's "We Are Not The Same"
The talented Marcus Manchild crafted a genuinely good song in "We Are Not The Same." He pulled Short Dawg in to balance out his own menace, straddled the production seamlessly, and delivered a pretty spot on opening verse. But then Killa Kyleon showed and ripped the song into a million teeny, tiny ribbons. It's just about impossible to listen to it and catch all of the things he does in his verse.
Most Underappreciated Song
KAB's "Good Music" (produced by DJ Mr. Rogers)
This was one of those situations where the production (a tempered swell built by Rogers with delicate hands) had a symbiotic relationship with the rapper's voice (KAB's scaled back higher pitched ferocity), which is what just about all rap music should aspire to do. That said, who has been playing this song outside of KAB's circle? Tsk, tsk, tsk.
The "This Song Is So Amped Up It Makes Me Want To Pick Up My Computer And Smash It On The Goddamn Floor" Award
Kritikal's performance are ascending, ascending, ascending. He climbs on shit and takes his clothes off and just generally goes nuclear. Here, on "Playing The Way," he corrals that energy splendidly. There's a scene in Jackass 3.5 where they're taking mints(?) and putting them in Coke bottles and then closing them and shaking them and slamming them on the floor, wherein they explode up and around, mashing holes into walls and ceilings and whatnot. That's what Krit has going on with this song.
The "If You Ever Need Your Party To Just Go Fucking Nuts, Play This Guy" Award
Mr. Wired Up (Oh Boy) is good at a bunch of things, but he's exceptional at making party songs that you HAVE to dance to when they come on, even if you don't understand why. You know how you get super excited* when you're in a club (or your car too, we suppose) and the music is extra loud and they play a song that you recognize? His stuff makes you feel like that the first time you hear them. Party tracks, yo. Not everyone can do that shit.
*If you answered yes to this because you've gotten "super excited," you are not a gangster. Thanks.
The "Cy Fyre's Best Beat" Award
Cy Fyre has proven himself to be one of the city's most reliable producers. He's done so with such consistency this year, in fact, that we decided he needed an award named after him that gets awarded to him. So which track of his is the best recently: "Welcome To The Sunny" from Damfoolz's Gaining Respect album. It is a thumping, serious, menacing-in-a-Children-of-the-Corn sort of way winner. Congrats, Cy Fyre on winning the Cy Fyre award.
The "Keeping The '90s Alive*" Award
Sometimes it feels like duo Undergravity just found out that it's not 1998 anymore about three weeks ago (which is a compliment, by the way). Their music is always the most effective when they're being nostalgic, thus they get the Keeping The '90s Alive award.
*Comedian Ken 2 The Fool inadvertently coined the title of this award.
The "Jason Vorhees" Award
Sometimes, it seems like life is throwing everything it can at Trae's feet trying to trip him up. The shooting, the radio ban that started in Houston and eventually spread all across the country, the way his fake friends upended him when he asked them to stand up, the squelching of the album that was supposed to come out last summer, whatev. Everything conspires against him.
But he gets up, every time, refusing to die, refusing to even stop walking forward. Trae isn't going to wrap you in a sleeping bag and slam you against a tree, but that's about where the differences end. He will never die, and might not even ever sleep.
The "Good Place To Go To Grab Some Mashup Mixtapes That Serve Well As Workout/Running/Physical-Activity Soundtracks" Award
DJ Chose is a busy dude. He's an artist, a producer, a DJ and a chinstrap beard enthusiast. But he's not so busy that he doesn't take time out of his day to upload free mashup mixtapes to his site (http://djchose.blogspot.com) about twice a month on average. Respect.
The "It's About Time You Started Paying Attention To This Guy" Award
Boss Hogg Outlaw Le$ has been woefully undercovered in this space. Matter of fact, last year we completely whiffed on writing about his Beautiful Struggle tape, a successful outing that was most interesting when it was serving as a contemporary take on the BHO business model. In 2011, he's been as fun as we should've been writing that he was last year. (See: "G-Shit")
The "Striped Socks and Plaid Shirt" Award
Dustin Prestige made a tape this year that toed 19 different genres, including Britdop, Dubstep, Indie Rock and more. He's a rapper.
The "Iceberg Slim Swears By This Guy" Award
Last go-round, Jon Black earned high praise from Iceberg Slim, creator of the MP3 blog Screwheads Only. This time, he's placed his hand on the shoulder of gangster rapper Killa Cal-Wayne. Download his latest tape here.
The "He Crafted An Entire Song Made Entirely Of Bird Metaphors And Bird Analogies And Bird Similes" Award
Preemo, "Come Fly With Me"
Preemo has done all manner of things, not the least of which including making the second best Houston rap record last year. He's an exceptional talent; creative, witty, clever, ambitious. He once wrote a song that manipulated 40 different movie directors into punchlines concurrently. Another time he wrote a song about famous twosomes that might've been meant to serve as a long form metaphor for loneliness. On his 2011 offering, Magic Bullet, he managed to craft an entire song made entirely of bird metaphors and bird analogies and bird similies.
The "I Wasn't Expecting To Hear That Today" Award
You know what this is? It's a link to a "Racks" remix. Certainly not rare. Except that it's a "Racks" remix offered up by Yungstar and Mike motherfucking Jones, son. It showed up on Yungstar's Twitter page last week. You weren't expecting to hear that today, were you?
The "Best Adaptation Of A Child's Nursery Rhyme Into A Rap Song That Talks About Dealing Drugs" Award
D-Boss is an engaging, occasionally cumbersome rapper that's probably been compared to Young Jeezy more than once in his life. His tape, D-Boss Is Here, isn't entirely innovating, but it's entirely convincing, and sometimes that's all you need.
The seventh song on the tape is called "Three Lil Pigs," and in it he flips the "The first little piggy had..., second little piggy had..., third little piggy had..." part of the nursery rhyme into a chorus that portrays them as being a little less innocent than we'd all been led to believe ("The second little piggy had weed"). There's no way he's not getting an award for that, y'know.
The "Bet You Didn't Know That He Released A Mixtape Recently" Award
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Z-Ro released 5200 recently. With zero promotion. Fuckin' Ro, man.
Thank you for your continued support. Please continue to send music (and awards suggestions, apparently) to sheaserano at gmail dot com. Part three will post in September. Shit is getting serious.