Houston Music

Artist of the Week: TroubleSum

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

We first heard rapper TroubleSum's music about a year ago when we poking around Trae's MySpace page - which was in a totally music-related manner, by the way. We were totally not browsing around imagining what it'd be like if we were best friends or anything weird like that.

The self-proclaimed Teflon Diva, TroubleSum turned out to be one of Houston's top three female MCs, and better than a ton of male MCs, as well. Her variably hearty flow can stutter-step across any beat she's asked to perform over. It provides an entirely original sound for our region, and twists what might otherwise be standard bravado (bravada?) into its own endearing characteristic.

We reached out to TroubleSum and she was swell enough to tell us whether or not there is an application process one must go through to attain Teflon Diva status, how she got down Trae's camp, and the details on the heap of albums and shows she's got lined up for the summer.

Rocks Off: Tell us about how one becomes a Teflon Diva. Is there an application process for something like that?

TroubleSum: No app, no process, just a God given swag. I'm wavy like that. [laughs] No, seriously, being a Teflon Diva you have to represent strength. I may stumble but I don't fall down, dig me?

During those times of struggles and obstacles being able to sustain when people shoot slugs at you - the naysayers, the backstabbers, the haters - and because you're "Teflon" it bounces off. And because you're a "Diva" you're able to get through it with class and with your head held high. That's a Teflon Diva and that's what I represent.

RO: We are very much not a Teflon Diva, then.

T: And everyone knows that a Diva is a female version of a hustle, and that I am!

RO: Oh yeah. Good point. How'd you get tied down with Trae? That's a pretty solid co-sign, particularly around here; it's kind of like having Jesus vouch for your holiness, you know.

T: Wow, that's a pretty powerful statement. We've known each other since high school. When you establish yourself as a genuine artist who is sincere in their work ethic it draws people of the same caliber to you, which eventually [leads] to such songs as "Shook," "Both Sides of the Fence" and other original material that'll be featured on my album. It didn't take long for the lyrical chemistry to showcase itself, and I'm glad people recognize it.

RO: Did you know there's a boy band from South Carolina with the same name as you? They're fairly lame. You can see them here.

T: Who told them they could use my name [laughs]? Never heard of them until now.

RO: Us neither. Google is great. A more serious question: what happened to female MCs? It's like they just disappeared in the last ten or so years. And what the heck happened to Lil Kim's face? She looks like a chunky white man.

T: Well, there was never a large amount of femcees in the game to begin with; it has always been a few. And the more successful you become, the more opportunities come your way so you're able to pursue other crafts.

And with that said, the past is the past. Lets talk about the future, and what I'm about to do to this game. I'm creating huge waves!

RO: Indeed. Considering the kind of company you keep, is there a sort of tough veneer that you've got to keep on to fit in? How does that work?

T: Nope, I just do me. I write music from my soul. I lay everything on the table: my disappointments, my flaws, my failures, and my triumphs. I give it away, it's actually great therapy. And I wouldn't call my people "thugs," I call him/them "real dudes" that represent "real life."

RO: Is there a concerted effort that you make to try and not sound like a Houston rapper, because, on "Gossip" for example, you have a very East Coast flair to your flow. It's more punctuated and erratic than we're used to hearing from local rappers, you know what we're talking about?

T: You know they've been saying that about me since Day One, and it was always said [as] a complimentary gesture. I don't try to sound like any coast or anyone other than me. All I do is step in the booth and spit.

I think what separates me from any other rap artist in my city is that I am a lyricist. The way I put my words together and, of course, my delivery is crazy! Every star always stands out, they never blend in.

RO: Any new mixtapes or albums in the works?

T: Working on my fifth mixtape. It's gonna be supa dope. Probably hitting the streets in August. Still pushing Rise 2 Power, getting crazy feedback on that, and it has a high demand in the streets.

A compilation album that I worked on with Lelani and HOT TV titled Women of H-Town is dropping in June. Super dope album.

The Incrowd is getting ready to put out another mixtape. And I'm featured on various artists' mixtapes, too many to name. [laughs] So I will definitely be flooding the streets with heat this summer. And of course I'm always recording for my album. Gotta keep my stock up.

RO: When, where and for how much can people see you perform next?

T: Well, they can check me co-hosting the OG RON C R.E.A.L Music Awards June 4 at Venue. June 6 I'll be in Dallas performing in the allhiphop.com BREEDING GROUND Artist Showcase. June 13 I'm co-hosting the Houston Style Magazine Health Awareness Day at the George R Brown. And June 18 I'll be at Bar Rio for the Smash The Mic Concert.

Stay up on all TroubleSum's shows, events, etc at myspace.com/teflondiva, follow her at twitter.com/TroubleSum, and friend her at facebook.com/TroubleSum.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Shea Serrano