If you know anything about San Antonio's annual Fiesta celebration, you know it's a two-week excuse to show up three hours late to work hung over and throw up in your company's restroom a few times throughout the day without getting written up (which only applies to those living in the Alamo City). The celebration makes it OK to walk with open alcohol containers anywhere you damn well please, cause reasonable amount of ruckus without being arrested and steer your child's stroller while intoxicated with your offspring's fate in one hand and a beer in the other.
Yes, every April, the Alamo City shuts down to play host to more than three million people from across the country for its annual Fiesta celebration. Downtown, in the city's historic Market Square, Tejano music lovers from Texas to Michigan don oversized straw hats. "Tejano Ain't Dead, Baby" T-shirts and throwback jerseys of their hometown's football, baseball and basketball teams are the apparel of choice. They crowd live music stages, food booths and beer stands, which line the streets to allow a nonstop party.
And when we say nonstop, compared to Fiesta, from a partying perspective, SXSW is a quesadilla appetizer at a Tex-Mex chain restaurant.
On the last day of Fiesta in the Market Square you can find the last of the die-hards doing it up like it's the first day, and the out-of-towners slowly trickling their way out of the city. It's a bit melancholy, but this Sunday, it was different.
At 5 p.m., as the sun was easing up on the hard concrete and foreheads of beer drinkers, hundreds crowded the stage of the last of the music performances, a Dope House Records reunion of Low-G, Rasheed, Lucky Luciano, and Carolyn Rodriguez. This day, hip-hop would share the stage with Tejano and nobody would complain.
During the last couple of months, those who were part of Dope House Records' glory years, but are now flying solo, have come together storming small towns like McGregor and destination cities like Corpus Christi putting on Dope House reunion shows. Fiesta played host to the latest.
We got wind of it happening through Lucky's Twitter, but there wasn't much promotion about it around San Antonio, which worried us a bit. We wondered if the turnout would be acceptable. We wanted Houston to have a good showing. In hindsight, we really had nothing to worry about.
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By the time Low-G, Rasheed and Lucky took the stage after Carolyn, hundreds huddled as close as they could get with out-stretched arms reaching for their music. They sang along to the lyrics of classics like "Mary-Go-Round" and other Dope House music collection staples. While South Park Mexican waits out a long 45-year prison sentence, today's Dope House Alumni, who had a large part in making the label's years memorable, have stayed relevant, something that was evident on Sunday.
Afterwards, San Antonio partygoers rushed the artists for pictures with them and with their children like they were presidential candidates running for office. They were bombarded with requests for autographs on their shirts and CDs. The energy was positive and endearing.
Each of these artists have ridden the roller coaster of Houston's Latino hip-hop - seen its highs and lows - going from having a radio platform to not, to being the center of the city's hip-hop scene to not, to catching fire again in the middle part of the last decade when the national hip-hop spotlight shone brightest on Houston, to now, carving a new chapter.
Regardless of where that chapter leads, there's one certainty - Dope House will live.