An evening with perennial Houston street hustlers Big Body Click

There's something strangely endearing about someone selling you a hand-­packaged, homemade CD. It may seem like just another ho-hum "artist" looking for a way to make ends meet. When you really think about it, though, the artist is trying make something infinitely more important happen. He wants his voice to be heard. It's a personal, soul-­crushingly ruthless transaction, and it's one of the cornerstones of the underground music scene.

Over the course of eight years, through just these sorts of transactions, a conglomeration of Nawfside rappers, producers and promoters known as the Big Body Click has managed to carve out a niche in the rap game. Run by longtime hustlers Cande Man, Medicine Man and L.O.C., the trio has risen from performing without pay at talent shows and working day jobs to overseeing a stable of artists and eyeing potential legitimacy.

The Press recently sat down with two-thirds of the Big Body Click's H.N.I.C.'s at their Sam Houston Plaza music studio to discuss why and how the transition from underground ambassadors to mainstream moguls is (hopefully) only a matter of time, the proper way for a rapper to shoot at someone and the time a car fell on top of Medicine Man. Yeah, a goddamn car.

Houston Press: Can't help but notice your, uh, gun you got there. We'd like to mention that we are currently gat-free, so, you know, just thought you should know that.

Medicine Man: Aight.

HP: You expecting some trouble? Because we can reschedule this interview. It'd be ideal if we were not involved in a gunfight today.

Medicine Man: (Laughs.) You wanna hold it?

HP: What? No...yes.

Medicine Man: (Hands over a Limited Edition Ruger P94.) Go on and cock it.

HP: (Click-click.) Fantastic. Now, when a rapper shoots someone, do they hold it sideways at an angle?

Cande Man: What movies you been watching, playboy?

Medicine Man: If you wanna hit something then you wanna shoot like the laws. Straight up, in intervals of two.

HP: This is some really helpful everyday advice. Thank you. Do you always carry a gun?

Medicine Man: Man, I stay strapped up. I don't play. When you got jewelry on —

Cande: Sometimes we come outta [the studio] at two, three in the morning. You never know what can happen.

HP: Aside from being Second Amendment supporters, can you explain exactly what the Big Body Click is?

Cande: We're an independent record company and a group. We started out just selling underground CDs and shit and grew from there. For, like, the first five years we were dropping an underground CD every week. At first, we were just giving that shit away in the clubs and shit. [The CDs] got to lingering, and then people start asking where they [could] get them. That's when they started going to stores and requesting 'em. It had our numbers on there so people started calling us.

HP: How did you all come together?

Cande: L.O.C. is Medicine's brother, and me and Medicine were working together at MCI in 2000. This fool came to work one day and was like, "Cande, I woke up and I seen this commercial that was like, 'Are you tired of working for somebody else? Do you want to be your own boss?'" And that fool ain't been back to work since. That's square business. He quit that day.

HP: You were able to generate enough income to sustain?

Medicine: I had to. If you quit working, you still gotta pay bills. I got a wife and kids. When you give yourself no other options, you have to make it work. I was thinking, "If I can just sell five or six CDs a day to start, I can make it."

HP: And everything has been underground thus far?

Cande: Yeah. We trying to hit them record labels now. The rap game is a popularity contest. At the end of the day, people wanna know how many units you sell, and you don't get credit for underground sales. I think because we didn't do that at first, we held ourselves back. We looked at it like, "Man, do we wanna take time and put this on a barcode, or do we wanna make a couple of beats right now and put 'em out tomorrow?" That's what we been doing for the last six, seven years.

HP: So you're trying to be more professional about it?

Cande: Yeah. We just like you, we want that status.

HP: Hmmm. It's weird for people to think about you guys — being mean-mugging, gun-toting rappers and all — as normal people. You ever hear that?

Cande: We like anyone else, we just got a different job.

HP: Okay, so rappers are normal people. Do rappers like salad?

Cande: I don't eat no muthafuckin' salad, playboy.

Medicine: There ain't nothing salad about that big nigga. (Laughs.)

HP: When rappers get sick, do you go to the doctor?

Medicine: I have to be dying. I could get shot right now and be like, "Shit, man. I'm just gonna stop it from bleeding and hope it's all right in the morning." The last time I was at the doctor I woke up butt naked. I was like, "Ah, shit."

HP: Why were you at the doctor?

Cande: Was that when that van fell on you?

Medicine: Nah, that [time] was when I was in a [car] crash.

HP: Wait, wait, wait. A van fell on you? Like a van van?

Medicine: It was a car.

HP: Please explain.

Medicine: You know them old Lincolns, they got them air shocks. I was workin' on one and I was like, "Man, forget this jack. I'm fittin' to go on and let some of this air out and hurry up and go to the store." So I'm under the car and I hear "Psssshhhh" and I said, "...Uh-oh." When you realize that it's some life-and-death shit, there's probably like ten seconds you go back and realize, "Damn...I can't get out...Jesus...Somebody see me." 'Cause the only thing coming out from under the car was my feet.

Cande: That's some cartoon shit.

Medicine: I'm stuck. I got an axle in my face. I can't breathe. "Lord, please God help me."

HP: How'd you get out?

Medicine: My cousin came. He tried to pick up the car and I said, "Go get help." My momma and them came and lifted up the car. I was passing out but I could see them tryin' to lift up the car; they arms was bleeding. They picked up the car, and I could breathe again. I said, "All right. I'm fittin' to get from under the car," and when I said "all right" somebody let go. My brother had the jack out but he didn't know how to work it, so my last breath was " the right." They was cryin'; they thought I was about to die.

Cande: You was about to die!

Medicine: I was in the hospital layin' there strapped to that board and was like, "Damn, this is not the shit." When they flipped me over, the doctors saw that I had a socket stuck in my back. They pulled it out and asked me if I could walk. I was scared so I was like, "Yeah." I got up and walked and they all started clapping.

HP: And you just got up and walked after a car fell on you?

Medicine: Yeah. They said my insides shoulda been crushed, but I was straight.

HP: Wow. Medicine Man indeed.

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Shea Serrano