The H-Town Countdown: Clearing the Table and Tying Up Loose Ends
Roughly 84,000 rap albums have been released in Houston since 1989. We're counting down the 25 best of all time every Thursday. Or we were. Got a problem with the list? Shove it. Just kidding. Friendship. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, it's over. We stretched it out just about as long as we possibly could - do you realize that The Countdown started last July? - but it is now officially over. And we are heartbroken about it. Let's tie up a few loose ends.
First and foremost, we wanna thank that nigga God for giving us the strength to overcome adversities. You a real ass nigga, God. Ba'lee dat.
Thanks to everyone who bothered to read this space each week, as well as to everyone who took the time to email after each one of these was posted; unless you sent us an email calling us a fag or a moron. That was pretty dickish.
Thanks to every rapper who was kind enough to talk to us about this stuff week in and week out, especially K-Rino, who is like an encyclopedia of Houston hip-hop, and Bun B, whose insight makes it seem like everything he's saying was written down and rehearsed ahead of time.
Sarcastic Thank Yous to Scarface - or, perhaps more accurately, the guy that led us around by the nose pretending like he could schedule us for an interview with him - and Lil' Keke, who completely brushed us off.
A lowercase thank you goes to Rap-A-Lot for being a lowercase amount of helpful.
Thanks to the guys at the legendary Screwed Up Records and Tapes for never stabbing us while we poked around there waiting for something cool to happen so we could write about it.
Thanks to the guys from the Ghetto Dreams tattoo shop for running the Ghetto Dreams tattoo shop.
Thanks to the guy that was selling CDs outside of the Chevron at 610 and South Main last November who talked to us for at least 30 minutes after we mentioned to him that we wrote about rap for the Houston Press.
Thanks to the guy who offered all kinds of off-the-record, behind-the-scenes info about our favorite rappers.
Thanks to the guys from Swishahouse (especially Yung Redd, who always answers his phone when he's in the studio), SUC, ABN, SPC and any other acronymed rap conglomerations we may have forgotten.
Thanks to Chaz, who participated in a lot of arguments about a lot of nonsensical rap stuff as well as offered to help us buy syrup and weed from a local drug dealer so as to ease the awkwardness of the situation.
Thanks to jbell, who somehow always managed to respond to an email that required a one- or two-sentence response with a 4,000 word missive about why just about any Houston rap album made after 1999 was illegitimate. He might be the most engaging commenter/emailer we've ever experienced.
Thanks to Iceberg Slim, whom we always pictured to be dressed like a Chicago pimp whenever we were on gchat with him, Trill, Bola-D and the rest of the guys at the Texas Takeover message board. You might have never actually read any of the write-ups about the albums listed, but you read the titles, and that's good enough.
Thanks to our editor, who let us write this thing. Definitely thanks to him. [Ed. Note: No problem.]
A Way Too Long List Of Other Albums For You To Listen To
One of the highlights of writing this column was having people email to say that, had they not seen it here, they likely would not have heard of a lot of the albums mentioned. In light of that fact, here are a bunch more that deserve your attention that didn't get mentioned in the very first write-up for The Countdown:
- DEA, Screwed 4 Life
- DJ Screw, D.O.T.O. Chapter 12 (When our white, white writer buddy Ben Westhoff came down from New York - he's writing a book about Southern hip-hop; make sure you buy it - we convinced him to buy his own copy of this. Then we drove around Fifth Ward in a Hyundai Accent and listened to it, which is exactly what DJ Screw was hoping for when he made it, no doubt.)
- Big Pokey, Hardest Pit in the Litter
- Guerilla Maab, Rise
- Devin the Dude, The Dude
- Bun B, II Trill
- UGK, UGK 4 Life; Super Tight
- Slim Thug, Already Platinum (Yes, we know people hated on this, but it's a good album.)
- Rakeem, Invincible (One of our favorite guys that didn't make the list.)
- Willie D, Controversy (Somebody, we forget who, was absolutely irate that this didn't earn a spot.)
- Lil' O, Da Fat Rat Wit Da Cheeze
- The Legendary KO, Universal (Did you ever hear this? We thought, considering what the guys were working with, it was pretty impressive. Same goes for H.I.S.D.'s The District. "3 Story House" might have been the most unintentionally smart song of 2007.)
- 5th Ward Boyz, Rated G
- Z-Ro, Look What You Did To Me; I'm Still Livin'
- Chamillionaire, Mixtape Messiah 4
- Big Mello, Bone Hard Zaggin' (If The Countdown were 27 spaces long, this would have made it.)
- Big Mello, Funkwichamind
- Scarface, All his individual albums except Last of a Dying Breed and Made. Those two aren't absolutely essential.
- Geto Boys, Grip It! On That Other Level (Also, Making Trouble, but mostly for historical purposes)
- Big Mike, Somethin' Serious
- Black Monks, Secrets of the Hidden Temple (Based solely on the suggestion of jbell. We were not impressed with this album.)
- E.S.G., Return of the Living Dead (ESG mentioned this album specifically when we talked to him. It was the first album he released after he got out of prison, and remains his meanest work yet.)
This list could go for days. Shoot, DJ Screw's Diary of the Originator series has nearly 250 tapes alone. Point being, Houston is a remarkable city for rap. It has existed (largely) within itself, and likely always will. For better or worse, that's just the way these types of things work.
Thanks again for your support. Be here next Thursday when we begin counting down the 3,000 greatest Houston rap songs of all time, one a week for the next 58 years.
References 1. Geto Boys, We Can't Be Stopped
1 (psych). Mike Jones, Who Is Mike Jones? 2. UGK, Ridin' Dirty 3. Scarface, The Diary 4. UGK, Too Hard to Swallow 5. Lil' Keke, Don't Mess Wit Texas 6. Scarface, Mr. Scarface Is Back 7. Fat Pat, Ghetto Dreams 8. Devin the Dude, Just Tryin' Ta Live 9. E.S.G., Ocean of Funk 10: OG Style, We Know How To Play 'Em 11. Z-Ro, Let The Truth Be Told 12. Street Military, Don't Give a Damn 13. DJ Screw, 3 N' Tha Mornin' Pt. 2 (Blue) 14. Trae, Restless 15: Chamillionaire, Mixtape Messiah 16: Bushwick Bill, Little Big Man 17: SPM, Never Change 18: Swishahouse, The Day Hell Broke Loose 19: Chamillionaire and Paul Wall, Get Ya Mind Correct 20: Z-Ro, The Life of Joseph W. McVey 21: Ganksta NIP, South Park Psycho 22: Big Hawk, H.A.W.K. 23: K-Rino, Time Traveler 24: Pimp C, Pimpalation 25: Big Moe, City of Syrup Read the rules of The Countdown here.