Secret shows in Houston don't always stay that way. It's also not a secret that 97.9 The Box has been making quite certain its focus on local rappers is heard vociferously.
Last year, the first edition of 97.9 The Concert featured a number of who's who in the local rap community. Propain, he of the 2013 Mixtape of the Year and all-around Houston star down to the twang, headlined along with BeatKing. The second, taking place Thursday at presumed location House of Blues, has the distinction of being just as diverse with a few new wrinkles added in. (Follow #BoxPopUpShop for ticket locations.)
There are numerous artists on the bill, some recognizable, some you may possibly be hard-pressed to pick out of a police lineup. That's where I come in.
SOMO From: Denison, TX Twitter: @OfficialSoMo, 192K Followers Song of Note: "Ride" The Skinny: Before you take into account how SoMo, the Denison singer/songwriter and Republic signee could have amassed nearly 200,000 Twitter followers, take into account the fact that he's a singer who rose to prominence via YouTube and cover songs. The guy once redid an entire Drake album, which is halfway meta considering Drake whines about his exes in a far more sincere and understood way than Robin Thicke ever would with Paula. Second, his bedroom burner, "Ride," has at least made your girlfriend think about doing some sleazy yet sexually awesome maneuver in the bedroom.
He released a full length self-titled album in April, a series of clinging to your body and whispering-in-your-ears-esque R&B records that painted him more as a sex symbol and lothario than lovelorn guy who wanders the night in search of "the one". Comparing it to today's class of R&B, if you could call it that, its perfect bedroom music. Be thankful he's never made anything as awkward as Next's "Too Close."
DOUGHBEEZY From: Houston Twitter: @Doughbeezy; 12.8K followers Song of Note: "I'm From Texas" The Skinny: Jeez, what hasn't been said about Doughbeezy? From a Houston perspective, this may be his biggest show yet. Off the top of my head, I can't recall him performing at the large stage at House of Blues. His sound has evolved from utilizing a full band onstage to simply him, an on cue hype man and a DJ. He didn't necessarily start the band movement, but you could argue that a lot of "mini-trends" in Houston rap kicked off because of Dough.
Merchandising, the air of being omnipresent, the aforementioned thought of every rapper believing a band was right for his sound - most of that could be traced back to the bald-fade king of the Southeast. He's released three mixtapes, the latest of which, February's Footprints On the Moon, has propped him up as a potential winner for Local Musician of the Year from this very publication.
STUNNA BAM From: Houston Twitter: @StunnaBamDSD1; 1.9K followers Song Of Note: "Buy What I Want" The Skinny: Last year, Stunna Bam scored a minor hit with "Buy What I Want," a strong-armed club single that asserted solo dominance inside a singular, almost id-catering manifesto. It couldn't have come at a more interesting time for the rapper who through personal tragedy changed his name, continued moving into the lane of "lifestyle" rap and decided to outfit his entire project with club creations that either came from the brain of June the Jenius or someone who attempted to be close to him.
Stunna offers a detour from a lot of the rappers on the bill, a middle ground between stunting and introspection. Radio (and advertisers) have bought into what "Buy What I Want" represents, much like how they eagerly sapped Propain's "Say I Won't" from all of its underdog promise and instead made it sound like Hiram Clarke on top of Houston's Rap Mount Olympus. Then again, the remix to "Buy What I Want" is a deeper dive into this solely based on the guest help from Atlanta enigmas Rich Homie Quan and Rocko.
FAT PIMP From: Dallas Twitter: @GoMCBeezy; 22.2K followers Song of Note: "Uh Oh" The Skinny: Fat Pimp is probably the most astute and best-known to average Box listeners than anyone else on the bill. Mainly because Since at least 2008, the Dallas heavyweight has burrowed his gruff twang into people's heads with the likes of "Rack Daddy," "Masarati," "Roll Me Up," his guest verse on BeatKing's "Smile" and now "Uh Oh."
If BeatKing is Houston's tried-and-true king of the clubs, then Fat Pimp is that to Dallas, a juggler of street fame transferred into rap stardom and a keen sense of understanding that big dudes, for whatever reason, have a higher idea of how to score women by the hundreds. Fat Pimp is a fully realized rapper, one that can even get at Taraji P. Henson if necessary.
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MC BEEZY From: Houston Twitter: @GoMCBeezy; 6K followers Song of Note: "Swagged Up I Be Killin" The Skinny: A presence. A constant fixture who may not create the same amount of buzz that a previous single did but remains constantly in the picture. MC Beezy wears a singular suit, one of turning up and having fun at all times.
"Swagged Up I Be Killin" entered the conscious somewhere near the fall of 2011. Know what I was doing in September 2011? I was busy racking my brain as to how LeBron James was going to get over the fact that he just laid an egg on basketball's biggest stage and "8 Points" and "Super Funny Not 1, Not 2, Not 3" Twitter memes. And that happened in June. Now I'm busy racking my brain as to how Daryl Morey can just follow guys on Twitter and expect them to show up to Toyota Center ready to play ball.
Point is, Beezy has found a way to ride the wave of one glorious single, one that deserves its own dance single, and it got him here. There may not be another significant Beezy track that the general public can name yet, but they'll forever be Swagged Up. They will forever be killin'.
SENZE From: Houston Twitter: @theRnBposterboy; 12.7K followers Song of Note: "Slow" The Skinny: Two years ago, Senze was tabbed as one of our Artists of the Week. Arbitrary, but definitely worthy of the honor. At the time we were probably ready to slot him in somewhere among the class of Houston R&B singers that includes Jack Freeman, Lee-Lonn, Phill Wade, Ken Randle, Brian Angel and Prince Cannon (aka all the ones who are pretty damn important), but not completely confident. See, you need plenty of sex appeal to be one of those good looking guys who HELP other schleps like myself get laid. Senze either grew into it or got it from birth.
"Slow" is his latest record, manicured to death by 808 drums and coos about taking his time sexually: "long as we can do it slow." I can't ever argue against the concept, but there's a sticking point here. Before "Slow", Senze's most noted track was "Lady In the Streets" with Kirko Bangz. That means he has a song titled "Sex" and makes some random reference to a food object, filling up my "Seriously Influenced By Usher and/or R. Kelly" Bingo Sheet. He'll join previous winners Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign and August Alsina.
QUINN From: Austin Twitter: @Quinn512; 4.7K followers Song of Note: "Do It Like Maliah" The Skinny: 97.9 has championed three Quinn songs. The first, 2013's "I Be On Something" adheres to club specifics, namely drugs, to add to the experience. The second, "Do It Like Maliah," is the definitive "name-check a stripper and watch her make it her theme song" anthem. The third such track, the recently released "It Don't Matter," attempts to be more hardened, more likely to stick to bad ass outlaw themes as opposed to singing Kumbaya.
Quinn occupies this space in Austin rap that makes him feel as if he's not one of the best in the city. The League of Extraordinary Gz, Kydd and a few others will argue to the claim of the Best In the State Capitol but none of them wield Quinn's power to keep a gaggle of women and men trying to score said gaggle of women in check. Make songs about women, become famous for said songs about women.
DELOREAN From: Houston Twitter: @IAmDelorean; 7.3K followers Song of Note: "Breathe" The Skinny: DeLo set the tone for how a Houston rapper in this day and age who adheres to no tricks or club affairs breaks through. Last year, his "Breathe" record from Grace found its way onto 106 & Park. Gone were the Jay Z comparisons that dogged him for a large chunk of his career; in their place were the whispers of him repeating what Grace achieved, a fully recognizable DeLorean with the keys to drive a car featuring even bigger names in the city.
DeLo's rap as a solo ghetto boy have already been noted. His Hood Politics series ranks as one of Houston's best trilogies, with the second volume being his crowning achievement and the third holding the city's most rounded-out posse cut with him, Doughbeezy, Propain and Marcus Manchild. After years of laying waste to stages and microphones, he's finally just got his due in the form of a radio single, "Picture Me Swangin'." All that's left for DeLorean to accomplish is making sure nobody sends him back to those HP2 days, otherwise there may be hell up and down Mo. City.
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