"What It Mean?", the latest single by underground Houston rapper BuddieRoe, tackles the artist's frustration with rampant gun violence in his community and his own loss of friends. The emotional track is a sonic departure for Roe, whose mellow and poetic projects have stayed away from such raw, untethered energy in the past.
"I believe it's a different side of me," says Buddie, "more energy, pure emotion."
BuddieRoe's debut single "Southside Basquiat" hit the scene quietly yet confidently last summer. The track's release followed the Mo City rapper's meagerly publicized victory at a one time event called the H-Town Rap Battle — a project launched by local rapper Doughbeezy that sadly failed to gain momentum. Following the win, however, Buddie landed features on Slim Thug's 2018 "Motorsport Freestyle", as well as a feature on Doughbeezy's 2018 album King Beezy.
This latest song, released on May 30, comes just a week after the release of HouZoo — a joint track with Lil Keke and DJ Hawk. Still, despite an impressive list of features and collaborations, Roe has yet to find his breakout moment. A creative pivot towards more confessional, thematically aggressive music may be just what the talented lyricist needs to push him over the edge.
"What It Mean?" opens with a distorted bass driven beat, setting a combative tone matched by Roe's similarly distorted and strained vocals. The song, meant to sound angry and embittered, comes across as a stream of consciousness — a righteous sermon against a system of violence from which escape seems futile.
In his poignant verses the young rapper laments the mentality that drives his peers to kill and be killed over trivial disputes, while at the same time feeling targeted by justice system also willing to take their lives.
If a ni**a try to get me, I'ma get him before he do.
Boys in blue, boys in blue, ambulance, 9-1-1.
Killed a ni**a looked just like me, left him on the pavement slumped.
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On the inspiration behind the track, Roe explains, "I've lost friends and associates to gun violence and have others who believe that's the answer. I began to get frustrated with the same cycle of black on black violence and it all came out on 'What It Mean?'"
The three-minute single was released as a teaser for a project Roe and producer David Ruiz have been working on for months. An upcoming multi-track project titled 5 Days, which promises more heavy hitting verses, ambitious social elements and brash subject matter.
When asked what fans can expect musically, Buddie warned against setting expectations. "One of my goals is to never be boxed in and to challenge myself as much as possible in the studio. There's no telling what we'll come up with, but you can assume we've done our due diligence to make it the best possible product."
Roe is working on the video for "What It Mean?", a visual project that will hopefully match the urgency and emotion of the track itself. While no release date has been set for 5 Days, Roe assures us it's in the final stages. If this first single is any indication of the full album, it could be a defining project for the Southside Basquiat.