Homegrown Texas hip-hop in 2017 has so many flavors. So many styles, and so many, so many rappers and DJs and producers (….and groupies?). It's easy to lose track if you don't keep your browser bookmarks straight.
The good thing, though, is that all that rap talent doesn't get sucked up into a SoundCloud wasteland. You have promoters working the city and independent labels that are still trying to get their shine on, and connect people with good music. Doesn't matter if the out-the-trunk CD game died somewhere around a decade ago, live shows are always better.
This Saturday, the Bounce & Turn party series, which is dedicated to bringing the most syrupy of Houston culture to the local masses and close to celebrating its one-year anniversary, hosts a show that's packed with not only some unique Houston talent, but also highlights some artists out of Dallas who deserve multiple listens on your favorite music-streaming service.
The Satellite Bar event isn't a showcase so much as it's going to be venue of multiple personalities who take that stage to show why Texas hip-hop is still unique and still growing.
South Park street veteran Dead End Redd will be on hand. Talking to a reporter on a recent night just before a smoke break, he said his job is just to inspire people and destroy mikes.
"I'm just doing me. I can do old school, we can trap the fuck out, we can get melodic, I've got a lot of different flavors," he says. After the devastation of Harvey left him stuck at home, slamming down dominoes and going through packs of Black & Mild like there were actually stores open to replenish them, he helped create a song. Not willing to risk his chances with a curfew imposed by the city in the days following massive flooding, he decided to mix a little Fat Pat with a little E-40 to come up with a stated hurricane tribute song.
"We were on curfew, so it was like, man I'm a rapper, part-time trapper, full time mack-er. I couldn't operate with the way I get my money. We all took loses and a lot of people lost their lives," he says about that delicate time.
Redd, 30, calls himself a "product of the Screw Tape," and has built his persona as an homage to the foundation of Houston's street music. He came of age on the same streets as DJ Screw and takes his name from the Dead End Alliance. But he's not stuck in the past, he's still banging out mixtapes like it's the mid-2000s. "I'm about to slow it down a little bit, because I have too much music out here right now," he allows.
Whatever Dallas may lack in well-known institutional memory of its hip-hop, a rapper like T.Y.E. is ready to leave a lasting impression. With MTV making it okay to rap about suicidal tendencies, T.Y.E. isn't following any trends, but he puts it all out there, every bit of him it seems.
"It's always good to spread awareness, no matter what tax bracket you get in," he says concerning being candid about his own mental illness, which he admits can explode when he doesn't expect it to. "At the same time, I know some people in the hood who can benefit from being made aware of mental illness.
In some of his songs, from his breakout 32 album, you can hear a manic expression that can go from cultured trap-raps honed on the corners of his Oak Cliff neighborhood, to damn-near operatic scales he learned when he became a scholarship opera singer in college. It wasn't the type of stuff you talked about in the hood, he explains, but his favorite piece is the aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute (lol).
And he brings so much more to the plate that he's been generating a fan base all over the country. So much so that the groupie love is even starting to scare him. His first time crowd-surfing, he says, a fan in the crowd lifted up her shirt and wanted him to suck on her breast. "She was kind of on the heavy-set side, and I didn't feel like it would be a good look to go out into the crowd and suck on her, but it was cool to feel that love from her," T.Y.E. says. Shout, out to her."
For The Outfit, TX, the path through hip-hop has been a way to share where they're from. While Houston plays a heavy part in the trio's origins, it's the D that claims them. "It seems there's been a resurgence of regionalism and very presentational culture in the game," says rapper Mel.
"That's what hip-hop is all about, it's our version of Africa. We don't know what country we're from, but that's why hip-hop is so important," he says. What we've don't in being transported over here we have found a roundabout way of rebuilding our culture and identifying ourselves."
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"Nigeria is light-years different than Ghana. In America, from a hip-hop perspective ,New York is different from Atlanta and Louisiana. You get difference shades, different vernacular, all from the same culture. It's how we find ourselves." That's not to say that The Outfit, TX is all brooding cultural assessments, they've been around the block and know how to rock a show.
"We passed out so many fliers, we've put out so many T-shirts in the street and nobody really gave a fuck," Mel says about the group's early years; they've been making music together for close to a decade. "Now, all of a sudden people following you on social media. What really blows my head: We have built this homegrown tangible following," and that's one thing they learned about keeping their musical base all the way Dallas.
Bounce & Turn: Texas Takeover features Dead End Redd, OG Shyne, T.Y.E, The Outfit, TX and more, Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Satellite Bar, 6922 Harrisburg, For information call 713-425-6669, R.S.V.P at Evenbrite.com. Free.