Screwston, Texas

T2 the Ghetto Hippie Enjoys a New Creative High

“You eat pork?”

It’s a question T2 the Ghetto Hippie might ask even before “Do you mind if I smoke?” It’s not that he discriminates. It’s just that your answer is going to affect his ordering choices. T2 is serious about his tacos. If you’re not down with el pastor, he’ll steer you toward the tonga instead. The rapper from the Southwest makes it his business to know the best shit to ask for at the taco joints he frequents.

Today, it’s 100 percent Taquito.

“This is a white-people neighborhood, so this is like a gem in the desert,” T2 says as he sips an agua frescamelón. “I got all my spots now, every neighborhood,” says the Ghetto Hippie. “I believe in this shit. Me and a friend went to, like, 20 different taco trucks together. But I was like, ‘You know what? I gotta know. Where do you get the most fire tacos in Houston?’ And I found out!”

A true aficionado, T2 has high praise for Tacos Tierra Caliente on West Alabama, and Valentina’s in Austin. But his current favorite is La Macro, the local taco truck featured in the video for his new song, “Double Cups and Taco Trucks.” That’s the title track to his latest EP, a salsa-dipped, psychedelic stroll through a thoroughly Houstonian lifestyle that T2 is determined to share with the world.

“I do think it’s going to take us to the next level, because sonically it’s so much more warm than all my other shit,” he says. “I wanted to abandon all pretenses. I don’t care what I think is hot. I don’t care about doing a trap cadence because that’s what’s on the radio. I just wanted to do whatever I want to do. And what I want is to highlight and emphasize my surroundings, what my culture was, why I talk about the shit I talk about.”

Tacos are a part of that culture. So is drank. As you might expect, T2 took plenty of inspiration from both on Double Cups and Taco Trucks. As his acclaim in the Houston underground grew over the past couple of years, T2 found himself in rarified, drank-sippin’-type circles, and he indulged as much as anyone else.

“When I was writing this, I was sippin’ drank every day,” the rapper says. “I was definitely addicted. I was gaining a bunch of weight, spending money, sippin’ in the studio. It was all just so great, and I’m fucking with Maxo [Kream] and all these people. We’re all sipping and having a good time. All of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Damn, bro, I’m addicted to this shit.’”

The Ghetto Hippie had been exposed to drank plenty of times before: “Before I knew what was in the styrofoam cup, I was askin’ what was in the styrofoam cup,” he says. Residing on the higher end of the drug market, drank was a symbol of wealth and success in Houston hip-hop. When the backslaps starting rolling in, T2 quickly found himself lost in the sauce. He says he’s cooled out on the drank since, but that song featuring Maxo, “Broccoli Lettuce Cabbage,” drips with the stuff.

“Once I started writing Double Cups, I was so in the mode,” T2 says. “It just became every day, and all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Holy shit, I’m pourin’ up drank at like 11 a.m.’ Because I had the name and I knew what I wanted the project to be, I was sipping more and more, and it definitely was a lifestyle.

“There’s a hint of humor to it all,” he adds. “But you know there’s a deep-rooted musical drive behind the whole thing that not just some double-cups gimmick.”

It’s easy to expect the smiling, long-haired Ghetto Hippie to break off some toasty weed jams about munchies and syrup. But on Double Cups, T2 delights in confounding expectations. See how many times you nod your head to “IDGAF” before the 9/11 commentary begins.

There’s layers to it,” T2 says. “It’s all bright colors and long hair and peace signs. But it’s so much more. It’s definitely a contrast. The taco trucks makes it not future, not flashy, very in-the-hood in Houston. A lot of these [rappers] talk about drank, and in the next line they’re talking about their Ferrari. I step out the corner store and walk to the taco truck.”

Whether you admire his creative muses or not, Double Cups is definitely different. Nobody in the local scene sounds like he or she is having as much fun as the Ghetto Hippie, and people are responding to that. As a result, T2 is riding a creative high that’s put him in a very confident place. It certainly helps that he’s got visual artist Jason “J-Dub” Williams supplying the artwork and honing the rapper’s creativity into deliverable content. Working with top-flight local producers like Trakksounds and Chris Rockaway sure as hell hasn’t hurt, either.

Most important, though, T2 believes in himself and in his team. He kept Double Cups short and sweet intentionally. Now he's performing with Mike Jones on Saturday and says he's sitting on a bunch of guest features originally recorded for the album that you can bet will be seeing the light of day sometime soon. Now that his name is getting around, T2 isn’t planning on going anywhere, so if you’re heading out, be a pal and pick up some tacos and a deuce. You're in for a trip.

“I’ve been going for it since the beginning: Content meets catchy,” the Ghetto Hippie says. “Make ‘em bob their heads, but make ‘em think. It took me till Double Cups to be like, ‘All right, I did it. Fuckin’ A.’”

T2 performs at House of Blues on Saturday, August 12, as part of Mike Jones feat. HOU’s Next alongside Doeman, Genesis Blu, and Mark Drew. 1204 Caroline; $15. Doors open at 7 p.m.
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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith