Friday Night: K-Rino & Lil' Flip At Fitzgerald's

Lil' Flip, K-Rino and More Fitzgerald's April 6, 2012

Lil' Flip and K-Rino are two of Houston's longest-reigning rap stars, and Fitzgerald's is one of the city's longest-running nightclubs. It seemed almost wrong that neither had performed onstage at the venerated live-music institution before Friday night, but that injustice was happily corrected by the Texas Massacre XII show in the venue's downstairs bar area.

The concert was a pretty great deal, offering up 12 local artists for $12. Maybe everybody was downtown at Minute Maid Park for Opening Day early in the evening, but a lot of ticket holders opted not to take full advantage of the bargain. Local acts including Southside rapper Big Mike and punks the Ballistics played to a mere handful of people. For a while there, things were looking a little grim.

Up-and-coming MCs Kyle Hubbard and D-Risha brought enough energy to their sets to entertain much larger crowds than the ones they performed in front of, but audience didn't fill out much until the OGs of the South Park Coalition arrived. Clearly, this was who people had paid to see.

Since the early 1980s, S.P.C. founder K-Rino has been one of Houston's most prolific artists and most engaging lyricists. Flanked by Coalition associates Wickett Crickett, Big Sniper and Rapper K, K-Rino delivered a set highlighted by cuts from last year's Alien Baby album, including "Representin'" and "Don't Leave Me."

Despite having more than 22 albums(!) to his name released since '93, K-Rino stuck to the present day with his tracks. The oldest songs he performed were the 2009 banger from Solitary Confinement, "I Got Stripes," and 2008 slab of sincerity "Holla at Me" from Triple Darkness Vol.1: Wreck Time.

More than 25 years into his career, K-Rino's lyrics still shame the competition. A slam against wack MCs "booty-poppin' like the the white girl in the Sun Drop commercial" had the crowd howling. Witty a cappella rhymes such as his "Ghetto ABCs" and an on-the-nose diss of KBXX 97.9 The Box proved that the underground hero needn't rely on hot beats to sell his songs.

K-Rino's sometimes-fearsome flow can be intimidating, but the man himself hung out in the crowd before and after his set, obliging anyone who approached with a word or a picture. His cult status notwithstanding, it was an object lesson to the younger rappers on the bill on how to survive a quarter-century in the game with no backing whatsoever from the mainstream music industry.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith