The Only Houston Rap Gift Guide You'll Ever Need
Screwed Up Records & Tapes is practically Santa's workshop this time of year.
Photo by Marco Torres
If you know someone who lives and breathes H-town hip-hop you may want to surprise them this Hanukkah or Christmas by showing them your cultural awareness and gifting something related to the rich local rap scene.
Use this handy guide that showcases books, custom automobiles and of course music created for and about Houston.
SCREW TAPES DJ Screw's catalog is vast but limited. True fans have the authentic mixtapes and the best place to get them isn't online, but at the namesake store. Help someone complete their back catalog of Screw tapes by visiting Screwed Up Records & Tapes in person, or online.
Why? Nothing says Screwston hip-hop like some authentic Screw tapes.
ACTAVIS CLOTHING Since pharamceutical company Actavis pulled its prometh/codeine off shelves earlier this year, your favorite rappers' favorite brand of purple drank potion is harder to find than a nun in a whorehouse. And there's now a bit of throwback appeal in the fact you can buy a full-on jumpsuit advertising prescription-strength cough syrup, or a hat, or a T-shirt. Think of it as an appreciation of a substance that's as much a part of Houston's hip-hop landscape as Frenchy's chicken.
Why? Leanin' unfortunately never really went out of style. Just don't forget to acknowledge all the lives possibly lost to purple-drank addictions.
BREAK DANCING The narrative of hip-hop anywhere in the world usually involves break dancing, and it's no different here in H-town. Revered rappers like Devin the Dude were perfecting their backspins before they were rhyming on the mike. (Just take a look for yourself in this 2006 YouTube clip.) Break Free Houston is a community center and dance studio that offers B-Boy classes. Buy a membership or enroll a friend in a class.
Why? Imagine how many battles you can fight and win with the right backspin technique. Probably not a great gift for those who dance worse than Taylor Swift.
RAP BOOKS In Houston Rap and Houston Rap Tapes, writer Lance Scott Walker and photographer Peter Beste have put the entire milieu of Houston rap into two books. These books are especially great for people who hate to read, but like pretty pictures. Add to those volumes, another book Hip-Hop in Houston: The Origin & the Legacy, by Maco L. Faniel and you'll have near-encyclopedic knowledge of the entire genre to wow friends at cocktail parties.
Why? Any one of the three make a great addition to any Houston rap nerd's bookshelf; all three practically complete the set.
DJ SKILLS Another foundation of hip-hop is the art of deejaying. You can't mention Houston hip-hop's impact on the world without travelling through the archives of DJ Screw. Robert Earl Davis, Jr. carried an entire generation of rappers into the mainstream. For any upstart looking to get a local foothold in the industry, maybe DJing is a good a place as any to start. Just gift someone a ticket to a workshop through the Supastar Spin Academy.
Why? Because your iPod/iTunes DJ skills could really use a boost.
Mexican Slang Gear From Chingo Bling Rapper-turned comedian Chingo Bling is an H-town stalwart. He made his fortune on tamales and by having fun with Mexicanisms rapped over chunky beats. His Cancun Life store is an extension of his persona, with gear relating to Mexican culture and hip-hop with a distinct Houston spin. Cop a hat that reads "Feria" (or "cash"), or a shirt that shows off Pancho Villa rocking a gold chain.
Why? Like Houston, the store highlights the intersection of Mexican and urban American culture. You can't go wrong with Chingo's signature hot sauce.
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Put Swangas On a Car If there was a flag for Houston hip-hop, it wouldn't contain a styrofoam cup running over with colored liquid it would have a picture of a classic coup on bright shiny swangas poking out. Local SLAB culture has been embraced in recent years by the mainstream, acknowledging it as a culture to be celebrated with a yearly parade.
Houston has a number of places to get customize your car with pokey spokes. Thanks to this infographic, you can get an idea how to get into SLAB shape.
Why? Because even if you drive around in your granddad's hand-me-down Caddy, there's no reason not to make it look contemporary -- by Houston standards.
Gold Everythang with Johnny Dang Just so you know how 'bout the people TV Johnny Dang is, just check out his store's entry on Yelp. A woman explains how she came in there to bargain shop ice and was rudely handled by a salesman. Nearly a year and a half later, a reply that appears to be from Mr. Dang himself offers a mea culpa and a promise of a discount on the next visit. So it goes without saying that copping gold from the Vietnamese prince of fine jewelry -- or diamonds of silver and maybe a cubic zirconia if that's your budget -- goes a long way for street cred in Houston.
Why? Nothing compares to the beauty of a diamond smile. Besides, getting a diamond grille is a fad that comes back every three to five years, so it's a great investment.
Get In Shape Like Houston's Rap Elite Instagram is full of video and photos of guys like Scarface sweating it out and dropping pounds off their frames. Add Paul Wall or Slim Thug to the mix and there's some kind of health and fitness craze going on in local hip-hop.
And you've got tons of local choices, but we think that if you can't shell out for personal trainer to the rap stars Milton Harris, then buy a pass for a friend to check out Mixfitz Studios run by Paul Wall's wife, Crystal.
Why? Because beating diabetes and obesity are good things.
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