The H-Town Countdown, No. 21: Ganksta NIP's South Park Psycho
Roughly 84,000 rap albums have been released in Houston since 1989. We're counting down the 25 best of all time every Thursday. Got a problem with the list? Shove it. Just kidding. Friendship. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Park Psycho (Priority, 1992)
We wrote about NIP at length a couple of week's ago. Read about him here if you missed the article.
South Park Psycho was the debut work of South Park's monster rapper Ganksta NIP. It's 14 tracks of balled-up fury and visceral anger; not exactly uncommon for the time. But what made the album so unique is that NIP was able to put a completely fresh spin on the gangster rap sound before there was even a real gangster rap sound. That's also what it made the most frustrating, at least as far as list-making goes anyway. It was among the more un-pin-down-able albums on the list. It was like, part of the time it felt like it should be a lot closer to the top ten - it is often recognized as the birth of the bloody horrorcore rap subgenre, so its cultural significance is undeniable - while other times it felt like it might be just a little too hard to listen to to make it on the list at all (there's lots of talk of eating dead animals and whatnot). Alas, 21 is where it fell, and we're entirely okay with that.
As for the album, somehow, without the guidance of a serious label (Rap-A-Lot was still a decade or two away from establishing itself as a regional empire), the Southparkian corralled that same energy that made Public Enemy so electric, except he replaced the themes of social activism with themes of social terror. In 1991, Geto Boys released the seminal We Can't Be Stopped, unquestionably one of the most important rap albums ever made. It contained a then-unforeseen amount of observation and interpretation regarding the "urban desolation" of the impoverished in Southern America. SPP was like the reactionary follow-up from inside the mind of a man who knew who exactly what they were talking about but was never able to put it into words, save to say he was going to eat your legs and burn your children alive. It is unbridled chaos.
When we interviewed him, NIP made mention of not caring about being a lyricist, he simply wanted to "fuck you up" aurally, and probably physically too - numerous tales of NIP's psychosis dot Houston's rap history, like the time he pulled a gun on photographer Peter Beste, which mostly seem to make his stabyouintheheartiness that much more credible. This is the album where he fucked you up the most.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.