The Rocks Off 200: Donnie Houston, Halftime Entertainment
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Donnie Houston during an interview with D-Solo of "Street Flava."
Photos by Marco Torres
Who? Donnie Houston is a producer and DJ who, fittingly, was born and raised in Houston. This Houston Press Music Awards nominee (Best Producer) was first introduced to music by his mother and older sister, who played him all the music from their eras -- Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and other legends of the '60s and '70s from Mama Houston; Donnie's older sister chimed in with '80s hip-hop.
"I actually remember her going to the store with me and buying my first rap cassette," he says of Run-DMC's Tougher Than Leather album. "It's because of those influences that I eventually started DJing in around the year 2000 and later picked up producing in 2006."
Home Base: Houston works in and out of various clubs and studios around the city, producing and collaborating with a number of local hip-hop names including Propain, Doughbeezy, Delo, Killa Kyleon and many others. He has also worked on his own video series entitled "Donnie Houston's Mic Check," which is available on YouTube.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I contemplated leaving Houston a couple of times, but I have a lot going on here," Donnie says. "I've been able to build some great relationships and I think that Houston is a great place to live. I've been to a lot of other cities and they all have something different to offer, but Houston is home."
Good War Story: Donnie telling it like it is:
At the end of 2012 I found myself questioning my future in music. Things weren't necessarily going bad, but I felt like I may be spinning my wheels with the whole idea of having a real career in music. I was seriously considering moving to New York and starting over. I knew a few people out there and I was going to make that move, not really having a plan other than to start a new life and put music to the side.
January 2013 rolls around and I get a call about an opportunity to work with a new, young artist named Young Marqus. They were proposing that I work with him as his DJ and that we would be doing a lot of traveling. The first gig that they needed me for was BET's 106 & Park. I was kinda surprised but I took it as God telling me not to throw in the towel just yet.
We did 106 and that experience really changed my outlook on things. I'd always wanted to do something like that and I knew that the opportunity wasn't presented to me for no other reason than to prove that I had a calling to really do this. I haven't doubted myself since.
Story continues on the next page.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Donnie's biggest pet peeve with the Houston music scene is that there is a lot of talent, but unlike cities like New York, L.A., or Atlanta, there are no executives here to help advance the scene. Those cities are also home to major publications like XXL, The Source or even the larger music blogs like 2DopeBoyz and RapRadar. He believes that if Houston had the same access to those things, the scene would be in a much better position.
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Bobby Womack, "Facts of Life"
- Jay Z, "Never Change"
- 2Pac, "So Many Tears"
- Snoop Doggy Dogg, "Who Am I (What's My Name)?"
- Kanye West, "I Wonder"
Best Show Ever: Donnie says that his "best show ever" would be Jay Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" tour. Seeing two of his favorite artists performing both their collaborations and their classic material made it "such a dope concert," he says.
Donnie is currently promoting Halftime, his new EP with De'Wayne Jackson, in which he produced all the tracks. He is also preparing for the second season of "Mic Check," and continues to work on production projects that will be released later this year.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
Chase Harris, Deep Cuts' Rather Deep Thinker Dave Callier, Grindcore Guitar God Mlee Marie Mains, the Heart of Hearts of Animals DJ Navo, Bombón's Boundless Body-Mover Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper Michael Dauzat, Sr., a Rabbi and a Hate Nick Greer, a G Among G's Chingo Bling, H-Town's Own Versace Mariachi Quenton Rockwell, Melody Man in the Shiny Darks Southerland Nights, An Army of Accolades Stacy Hartoon, Rudz's Punk-Rock Heir Apparent Bowen Lyons, Keeper of the Trimms' Groove Chris Gore, Electronica Guru of BLSHS John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
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