Esperson Art Gallery
Ma y 16, 2015
Recently the esteemed Houston producer Flcon Fcker strongly recommended checking out a rapper whom he esteems as one of H-town’s finest MC’s, Biz Vicious. Not one to question his endorsements, and equally intrigued by the name, I immediately went to Bandcamp and discovered for myself Biz's lyrical brilliance. His debut album, We Lurk Among You, possesses 11 near-perfect tracks filled with dizzying alliterative lines, mind-bending metaphors, and allusions that cover the entire canon of Western literature. Finally given an occasion to watch him perform live Saturday night, I wanted to witness his lyrical excellence in person.
Showcasing tracks from his debut album, as well as the one he is currently recording to benefit the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program — a non-profit organization that encourages young writers to unlock their imaginations — Biz Vicious proved to be a fitting subject for the event. Wasting little time, he opened the occasion with “Sick Cadence Cicadas.” The lyrics “I gaslight switch it like a Nazi psychiatrist” flamed from his mouth while the sparse crowd outside of the Esperson Art Gallery downtown bobbed their heads to the forcefully staccato beat. When “Annihilated” came on, casual passers-by stopped and gathered to hear the searing track, which revealed moments of inspiration from a gamut of hip-hop’s finest lyricists from Rakim to Earl Sweatshirt.
Despite being hampered by asthma and allergies, Biz Vicious' flow was furious and precise. “Biz Please (Got ‘Em Like)” spat rapid-fire rhymes as his audience continued to grow. Raspy at moments, demonstrative at others, his queer-positive rhymes provided a unique perspective for people seldom exposed to thoughts and themes of someone who clearly identifies himself as a trailblazer in the genre. As homophobic slights begin to disappear in hip-hop, Vicious makes it simple to appreciate the content and enjoy his songs for what they are: exceptional rap music.
Not exclusive to queer-positive messages, Vicious also demonstrated a thoughtful track for those beleaguered by mental illness called “When It Ends.” At the song’s conclusion, he mindfully dedicated the track to those who are attempting to overcome often misrepresented, and misunderstood, disease.
The crowd was still pumped; Vicious is no novice when it comes to rocking the stage. With no flashing lights or hype man to keep his fans moving, he continued to spit mercilessly, taking few breaks between bangers. The charismatic MC endeared the growing number of people to one of his finest tracks, “Watermelon Elephant,” a self-described love song that attempts to make sense of a concept so few artists have shown any true understanding.
The song, however, was cut short by the property manager, who claimed to have heard cursing. Despite the frustration of the benefit's organizers, Vicious conveyed great humility in the end. “He has a job to do, so I can’t blame him for what he had to do” were his final thoughts.
But neither asthma, allergies nor language-sensitive property managers deterred his performance during his shortened set. With an upcoming album and more shows on the horizon, Houston has a bona fide MC who is authentic, gifted and fearless.