That young man up there, that's Doeman. He is yet another talented local rapper hoping to rise above Houston's intimidating Talented Rapper scrum. He recently released a tape called The Understatement. The video is for a song from it. If you watch it, three things are obvious, each of which he expands on inside the mixtape:
1. He's a Latino Rapper: Obviously. But more than just that, he's a rapper who is Latino. His flow is natural and confident, a byproduct of being raised on classic hip-hop -- which, according to him, was the soundtrack his father opted for -- and in the austere but welcoming environment, the Southeast side of Houston.
It will prove to be a solid bargaining chip. There are only a handful of talented Latino rappers, fewer still who are young and immediately, mass-consumably cool-looking.
2. He's Fit: His slightly hunched shoulders hint at his affinity for boxing, which he mentions several times on The Understatement; the cover is actually a shot of him sitting on a stool in the corner of a ring between rounds.
Were he to shout it over and over again, it would grow tiresome quickly, but he always only mentions it in passing, which makes it an interesting aside. To wit, at the beginning of the second verse of a song called "All a Dream," one of three songs from the tape with original production, he spouts, "I promised mama a mansion, I promised daddy a Grammy, I promised Junior a title, I promised my girl a family."
It's a moving moment, and a clever bit of songwriting. It seems fair to assume that the further he moves into his career (this is his first tape), the more this type of showmanship will show up in songs.
3. He's At His Most Impressive When He Unleashes The Entirety of His Menace: Doe is good at rapping at a moderate clip, but his remarkable when he goes three-quarter speed, his high-frequency pitch turning flips around itself.
There are several parts on The Understatement where he does the same thing, and every time it's enjoyable. The best is when he goes yo-yo on an auspicious redo of A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime."
When asked about it, when asked how sincere his appreciation could possibly be for a band that recorded its first album before he was born, he responded, "I love Tribe. I grew up on them. My dad used to play them. There's a line in there where he [Phife Dawg] says something about being five feet tall; I'm only 5'3". I really felt that. I've loved them since then."
A couple of other notes about The Understatement that'll help:
**You can't download the tape. The only way to get it is to actually get it. If you send him a message on Twitter (@Doeman_), he will literally bring you one, a claim I suspected was false all the way up until he showed up at my house at 9 p.m. one a weeknight last week.
His rationale: "I heard a Big Krit interview where he talked about selling CDs. He said he'd be out there selling them and that even if they only sold 15, they sold them. I was feeling like, 'If they can download it, why would they come get it?" There are some videos on YouTube, but you can't download it. We pressed up 500. I think I gave away about 20. We sold almost all the rest."
**Throughout the tape, the refrain "Dyna in this" is shouted. Dyna is the name of the base surrounding Doe. It's slang for dynasty, and includes, among other things, a singer and a separate rapper named Tone.
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The Understatement will not be the best tape Doeman ever makes; his youth and aggression and natural talent almost guarantee it. But it is solid footing for him to begin with, and that puts him ahead of a bunch of guys that have been around much longer.
Follow Doeman on Twitter at @Doeman_.