The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to email@example.com. Last Friday we mentioned Optimo Radio, an online radio station devoted to playing under ground Houston rap 24 hours a day. Through the power of the Internet, the blurb ended up in the inbox of the station's host. He reached out to us so we interviewed him. Sure, he's not a rapper per se, but when you're the proprietor of what we've termed The Radio Station God Plays In Heaven, we can bend a few rules for you. This Week's
Rapper Online DJ: Big Ram from Optimo Radio This Week's Subject(s): Summerfest; ranking Houston's greatest rappers; Trae vs. The Box Ask A Rapper: Did you know that you're white? I didn't. When we saw you on Youtube our brain almost exploded. On the off chance that you didn't know, we just wanted to point that out to you. Big Ram [laughs]: Yes, I am aware. I used to get that a lot, I guess I still do. Yeah, I'm just some white dude who's down for the cause and loves him some soulful-ass music. I will say this, however: My lungs are probably black. AAR: Summerfest is here in a few days. Slim and Bun both have spots this year. [Ed Note: Performing together before the Flaming Lips' festival-closing set this Sunday.] Who are three other Houston rappers that should be on the bill next year? BR: K-Rino, no doubt. He should headline every show that they have in Houston. Have you heard Solitary Confinement? DAMN! Trae, for sure. People in town should be showing him more love with this ban. Houston used to show nothing but love to everyone; don't mess with our artists, man. I play him all the time man. You can't ban Tha Truth. This cause is really important. There are so many overlooked artists in our city. I would like to see Scarface. He always puts on a really good show, especially with a live band. Love me some 'Face. AAR: Who are the six greatest Houston rappers of all time? And you have to put them in order. BR: Damn... [in] order? This is really unfair, but off my head right now I'll put 'em in order, but this subject [varies] from time to time. And DJ Screw is not a rapper but he'd be No. 1. And UGK is excluded for this list as well. For the record:
1. Scarface: He is the King of the South. 2. K-Rino: If you don't know, go buy all his albums and take a weekend out [and] educate yourself, for real. 3. Z-Ro: Already... 4. Pharaoh of Street Military: Doesn't get much more G than that. 5. Point Blank: People really sleep on this man. He has never made a bad song, ever. 6. Devin the Dude: No one does it like he does. Love that soulful sound with my coughee.
AAR: You seem like a person qualified to answer this question: Can you discuss the merits of The Box (allegedly) banning Trae? Is this an admirable case of a group of people standing up for their own, or is it more a group of people abusing the power afforded to them by their medium? It has to be one or the other, right? BR: I would say its a gross misuse of power, and for such a petty thing too. Calling and arguing with someone who's dragging your name in the mud? Especially if you weren't in the wrong. That blows my mind just thinking about it. [Trae] wasn't there when that [shooting] happened. You can't control anyone but yourself. No one should ever be blamed for another mans actions. That seems to happen a lot with rappers and their entourages, but in this situation Trae was nowhere near the scene. Punk people mess things up, and it should be them who are to blame not the man, one of the few I might add, who actually gives a damn about helping out his city and giving back. And anyone who can't see that need a new pair a shades. Big shoutout to Trae, y'all should youtube Angels By Nature to see the real. But I won't sit here be negative and bash the local station. I remember when I was a kid they used to have the Top 5 at 5 and it would be all Houston songs. Shit, I was even on the Roll Call in 8th grade [laughs]. I haven't listened to radio in years though. They don't play what I want to hear. They play what they want you to hear, what they get paid to play to you. I will say this to the people though. There is a strong force going on to dumb us down and this commercial radio is a big part of it. It's nothing but sexually explicit music, moronic chants and catchy beats. There is no substance, there is no social commentary, there is no soul. You dig? We need our soul, and I just want to make sure the soul of Houston has an avenue to be showcased. We're too damn talented to let all this good music go unheard.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.