2 Mixtapes & 1 Beat Battle: A Busy Underground-Rap Saturday

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This weekend, Boy A and Boy B participated in their first soccer game. It was brilliantly entertaining.

At one point, Boy B turned to a player on his own team, began talking shit ("I'm too fast, you're too slow"), then picked up the ball and took off running, shouting "JUMP SHOT! JUMP SHOT!" At another point, Boy A ran clean off of the field and onto another adjacent field to kick a ball in play during a wholly separate game. That shit was amazing. Little Brian Chings, they are not.

As such, Saturday morning was spent doing our very best to mask embarassment with enthusiasm. We weren't expecting them to score six goals or anything, but we were at least expecting them to stay on their field. But Saturday night was a tad more productive.

Rocks Off spent approximately six hours and 15 minutes at and/or driving to rap events here in Houston. In chronological order, there was Authentic Snoopy's Everything Ain't Enuff mixtape release party at SF2 North, DJ Castle and DJ Demo's The Come-Up mixtape release party at Republika, and the Space City Beat Battle at Warehouse Live's Green Room. Some categorized notes from each one, 3-2-1 style.

#AuthenticSnoopy Snoopy is still a pup (see what we did there?) here in town. He first had his named typed by Rocks Off after delivering an enjoyable verse at SF2's now-defunct Kickback Sunday event back in January. He's not the best, but he's talented and he appears to work hard and he has nice teeth, so we've charted the beginning of his career with marked interest. Everything Ain't Enuff is his first proper tape.

#AuthenticSnoopy Regarding the tape, it's both what you'd expect from, and hope to find, in a first project: Several good parts, a couple of bad parts, and one or two overachieving parts from which a prosperous amount of potential can be gleaned. Quick:

  • #3BadParts: 1) The first proper song on the tape is called "Sit On My Throne," the fourth is "Hall of Fame," the seventh is "Dynasty," the tenth is "Love Me" and the eleventh is "I'm Cool." That type of braggadocio certainly isn't unique to Snoopy - nearly everyone does it; Google's effect on culture and hyperbole and blah, blah, blah - but its ubiquity doesn't make it in any more palatable. And, actually, "Hall of Fame" is titled as an aspiration, but you get the point.
  • 2) There are not very many extra-innovative moments; handfuls of hashmark punchlines and A-A-B, A-A-B rhyme schemes and so on.
  • 3) He accidentally tried to hijack Nicki Minaj's "Did It On 'Em," a genuine atom-smashing instrumental. It's admirable but overzealous, like challenging Kobe Bryant to a game of 1-on-1, him agreeing, then you calling his mother a whore and then letting him have the ball first.
  • #2GoodParts: 1) "Love Me," the evolution of his best song ("Hello"), utilizes an obscure rock sample and works hard to impress. It is reason enough to anticipate smart, bold moves from Snoopy in the future.
  • 2) He does not bog the tape down with features, a trap plenty of newbies have fallen into. Here, we find K-Dogg, Yung Truth, KAB Tha Don and YP as guest stars, all comparable talents. By the way, those features are listed in the order of impressiveness. In due time, K-Dogg is going to be a real headache.

#1ExceptionalPart: "I'm the coach after practice, 'Don't sit on my balls.'" That's a metaphor that's also a parable that's also a homonym. Aces.

#AuthenticSnoopy The place was packed, surprising considering Snoopy's current place in the underground rap pecking order. He seemed genuinely appreciative. All of the featured rappers on the tape were there, as were Doughbeezy, Renzo, Will from Affiliated Soldierz, Cuddy, Tha Centop, Hoodstar Chantz, an albino guy and a guy in a perplexing sweater vest with a hood on it.

Towards the end of the event, a cipher broke out. Most everyone that went had a clever part or two, but Hoodstar Chantz was uncontainable. He was pointing people out in the crowd and talking about them just to show that he was genuinely freestyling. His best line came when he was talking about girls that he might meet on Twitter, saying, "You already know that bitch 'gon swallow/ If she don't, get on Twitter... and unfollow."

Laughter, laughter, laughter, download Chantz's music.

#TheComeUp The Come Up is a compilation mixtape put together by DJ Castle and DJ Demo. It was originally supposed to feature a smaller set number of artists, but ballooned up after the inevitable, "Oh, well, you have to include this guy" talk. The cover features Indecent, Cam Wallace, Greg, Castle, Demo, Doughbeezy, Fat Tony, Cla$$ic, Authentic Snoopy and KAB Tha Don.

The phrase "The Freshman" appears on the cover as well (shouldn't it have been "The Freshmen"?), which implied that these were the "hottest" guys out, causing a slight bit of murmuring among those that weren't included. Fun, fun, fun.

#TheComeUp Four takeaways from the tape:

1. Fat Tony and Doughbeezy touch rings for the tape's opening salvo, "In For The Kill" (of course La Roux is sampled). The Beez has gained a ton of momentum this year and, at points, has seemed capable of just about anything. But Overweight Anthony's brand of avante charm has grown to an almost insurmountable height. He reigns supreme here too, throttling his twisty-turn cadence as it melts from one noun to the next.

2. Several of the songs on the tape are originals, but a solid number of them are not. It detracts from the "Consider This A Real Mixtape, Not A Best-Of Tape" argument, but helps establish a sense of familiarity. KAB's "Good Music," recently picked The Most Underappreciated Song of 2011's First Six Months, is the three spot, Delo and Propain's superb "Watcha On" is five, Marcus Manchild's "We Are Not The Same" is seven, Tawn P's "New Flavor" is twelve and so on.

3. The money-hungry Sam Davis is the tape's most unexpected talent. He picks apart a Lady Gaga chop up in gangster form with nary a misstep. Here, we'll rewrite that last sentence in all caps and in slowdown form so you can grasp all that just happened: HE. PICKS. APART. A. LADY. GAGA. CHOP. UP. IN. GANGSTER. FORM. WITH. NARY. A. MISSTEP. Rap in 2011, yo.

4. Killa Kyleon has zero songs on here that belong specifically to him, but he walks away with two, stealing Manchild's "We Are Not The Same" and Envy's homely, horn-crazy "Feel Me." That guy does not dick around. He probably has a whole room full of tracks he's stolen as a guest feature.

#SpaceCityBeatBattle Ah, the gorgeous beat battle. This was the third one. Episode Three: Attack of the Tones. It was not as dynamic as the second one, but it remains one of the city's most enjoyable, well-run underground rap events in the city. (If you're unfamiliar with its structure, read this.) There were all sorts of storylines that developed, but the best three were:

1. Tony Dark, a white guy with an exceptional beard, won the event. His most transcendent moment came when, after fighting his way back into the tournament in the wild card round, he found himself dangling perilously close to elimination while battling a producer named Bad Child.

Butted up against the edge of the cliff, Dark took a look at his note sheet, signaled which beat he wanted, then watched the devastation unfold as an earthy sexiness oozed out of the speakers. It was completely unexpected. Up until that point, everyone tried to either overpower the opposition or overclever them. Bad Child knew it was over ten seconds into the beat. Those are the types of moments that make the Beat Battle a must-attend.

2. A 16-year-old Asian kid named Bobby Earth became the Little Engine That Could for about 20 minutes. He was dressed in a black-and-white suit, wore wayfarer sunglasses and bounced all around the stage whenever his music played.

He seemed to be the favorite in the second round after he threw some extraterrestrial menace towards Eklipes, a production duo made up of a skinny black guy with baby cornrows and a chubby white guy in a plaid baseball cap, but had his legs cut off by the twosome's response, a beat that could only be described as being "bombastic warriordom," even though nobody will ever know exactly what that phrase means.

3. hasHBrown hosted the event again. He seemed to highlight every beat with, "Y'all fuckin' with that?" Over and over and over again, he said it. We couldn't stop picturing him saying it during breakfast with his family ("Breakfast is ready, bacon and eggs... y'all fuckin' with that?") or in a corporate boardroom ("And those, gentlemen, are this quarter's revenue projections... y'all fuckin' with that?") or in church preaching a service ("On the first day, God created the firmament... y'all fuckin' with that?"). It's never not amusing.

Note: Jokes are made all the time about Doughbeezy being at all places at once, like a tiny, bald-faded God. It's not without reason, though. As mentioned above, DB was at Snoopy's mixer. We left that, wandered around a bit, then landed at Republika. After being there a few minutes, DB sauntered in. He walked over, smiled, then said, "I heard y'all saw Doughbeezy on the northside."

Our wife, whom, to that point, had never fully experienced what is now referred to as the Doughbeezy Multiverse Hypothesis*, was flummoxed. Shortly thereafter, we left Republika and landed at Warehouse Live. Several minutes later, while stationed near the front of the stage, there was a tap. We turned around, and Doughbeezy was standing there: "I heard you all saw Doughbeezy in Midtown."

The wife's response: "How is he doing this!?" Left the show to get some food from Chachos, DB was working the window. Came home, that motherfucker was lying on the couch watching old basketball games. True story.

*The premise of the Doughbeezy Multiverse Hypothesis: There is not one universe but several, spiderwebbed together into a multiverse. Each individual universe has alternate Doughbeezys, the same as it has alternate yous or alternate Keanu Reeves. Somehow, though, all of the alternate Doughbeezys have landed here in this particular universe. There are a pack of them.

And as Original Doughbeezy kills each Alternate Doughbeezy, Original Doughbeezy gains more and more strength, because they all share the same life force. It's just like that Jet Li movie The One, except instead of karate there's rapping. It makes perfect sense.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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