In a fun way, Houston's rap class has jumped into hyperdrive in terms of creating memorable content and records. At times it could be categorized in any of the following aspects: personable, eccentric, braggadocious, stoic. No Houston rap release in 2013 felt like an artist was mired in the same sort of creative muck that may have plagued him or her before. Everybody brought it in one way or another.
Which makes this abridged 2014 preview that more important.
There shall be no shortage of Houston rap tapes in the coming year. The pesky part is actually remembering who exactly is dropping music and when could you even expect it to penetrate your eardrums, speakers and social media contacts. Since release dates are as flimsy as can be, here are ten of the more notable projects coming in 2014.
OneHunnidt, Field Sobriety In the near three-year capsule of OneHunnidt's stretching his spoken-word talents into a fully established rap career, a few things have changed. One, his crew of rappers and singers deemed The Numb3rs Committee stretches from here to Mississippi, but he is its undisputed leader and glue guy.
Second, he's now an accomplished rapper, as his Keep It 100 tape picked up two 2012 Houston Press Music Awards. The slow build to Field Sobriety has been met with a few easily appreciated leaks such as "Dick Vitale" and the large Houston rap foray "Jealous, TX" with Le$, UZOY, Roosh Williams, DeLorean. Knowing him, not a single member of the Numb3rs Committee won't have a helping hand in this.
UZOY, Untitled Houston rap's female circle, at least on the underground side of things, looked like a virtual battle royale. At its head was UZOY (pronounced "Uzi"), a Nigerian nightmare who kicked off B-boyish punchlines and crafted some of the more creative music videos around. 2011 and 2012 were all about stretching her the [DEF]inition mixtape to new highs, but last year she focused on securing her degree. Now with a year to focus solely on rap, we can only guess what she may lay down in the studio after a near two-year hiatus.
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RiFF RaFF, Neon Icon So much has been written about RiFF RaFF that it feels like we're getting a long discourse in how many synonyms exist for "absurdist." He's polarizing, yes; he's fun; many people think he's making a mockery of things -- all typical journalistic nonsense. Truth is, Jody HiGHROLLER has brought that lackadaisical punchline delivery of old Swishahouse stalwarts like Lil Mario to a much larger audience. Neon Icon figures to be one of the more talked about projects of the year, with Diplo & Drake set to feature on it and the power of RiFF RaFF behind it.
Roosh Williams, Untitled Last year, Roosh Williams turned into a diabolical rap demon who kicked off a lauded mixtape with easily 2013's best opening two minutes and 12 seconds. The Persian rapper with enough battle-ready bars didn't topple over by the amount of acclaim that started to get attached to him; instead he merely sharpened his wordplay even more. His upcoming untitled tape already finds him teaming up with Scarface for a second consecutive outing. Within the coming weeks, we'll start hearing more material from it.
6 Demon Bag, GIALLO Here's how it worked. Purple Bastard, who has now relocated to Los Angeles, and the Mighty D-Risha, he of a rather nasty EP last summer, had a small project in a vein similar vein to Killer Mike and El-P's Run the Jewels. Their off-kilter love for Italian horror flicks, continued references to Big Trouble In Little China and Risha's ability to pull any type of battle-rap barb out of his ass made the 6 Demon Bag EP, their Hypnotize Minds Three 6 Mafia-meets-Houston traditionalism tape, enjoyable. Its proper followup, GIALLO, is supposedly coming this year.
Easy Yves Saint, Clockwork The Niceguys owned 2012 with James Kelley, their second proper album named after the Wire Roads Studio owner and their longtime engineer. Then 2013 saw them sort-of splinter into creating for their individual selves. Free has been cooking up instrumental suites in preparation for something greater while Yves, the group's composed front man, released a string of freestyles that made Clockwork a wanted project then as much as it is now. According to Free and Yves, the tape should finally see the light of day this year -- and there's some shit on it.
List continues on the next page.
— Doughbeezy (@Doughbeezy) January 13, 2014
Doughbeezy, Footprints On the Moon Last year, this was the most sought after rap tape in the city. Doughbeezy's Footprints On the Moon was supposed to be that piece of material where the witty punchlines and sonics eked out a blissful marriage. And like a good marriage, Dough pulled back on the then late-winter release date to give it more time to cook.
2011 tape Reggie Bush & Kool Aid gave fans a small glimpse into Dough, a fearless competitor whose persona seemed larger than life even if he resided right around the corner from you. The next year's Blue Magic was as monstrous as it seemed with the Killa Kyleon-aided "Fuck You" and a feature from Bun B himself, and made the Kool Aid fun a hell of a lot more serious and focused. A single from FOTM is already in rotation, the fun and brash "Riding Round," but that's all we've heard from the project so far. Monday afternoon he said it'll be out February 4.
Hollywood FLOSS, The Sound Hitchhiker FLOSS, along with Dustin-Prestige, John Dew and hasHBrown, makes up The Council, a rap crew that digs into music all the same yet with varied interests and peaks. hasH has The Last Cassette Playa still on deck, but the group's proverbial Energizer bunny is Hollywood, who has been releasing EPs and mixtapes with abandon.
His next tape, Spirit of Competition -- set to feature all comers who dare try to best him on the mike -- is one thing. Under wraps at the moment, The Sound Hitchhiker shall take the cake with sonics provided by the normal cast of characters including Sweet Valley High, Chris Rockaway, Jett I. Masstyr and more.
Rob Gullatte; Untitled Remember Abortion: The Project? It was nominated for a bunch of awards and became one of the greatest rap tapes to ever emanate out of Alief. (The others belong to Maxo Kream and Damilare.) Gullatte may say his earlier work was blunter and more profound, but Abortion sent someone who was already a certifiable madman a la early DMX into a different stratosphere. SPIN lauded him, as did a few major rap blogs, and his stellar feature appearances in 2013 have placed us here -- where his as-yet-untitled project should warrant crazy praise too.
Shostoppa, YSL For a year now, I've been wrestling with whether or not Shostoppa, a lanky individual with a penchant for crafting hits (as opposed to out-rapping his competition) is either properly rated or severely underrated. He's dug in the trenches on multiple occasions, damn near outshining Lil Keke on Prince Cannon's "Hold Up" a little less than four months ago. Now he seems primed for a mixtape, the rather apropos YSL, that will once and for all settle the debate. Or possibly even up its volume.
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