What we are told is "The Gold Room" is actually a home in a quiet neighborhood in southwest Houston. It takes a few wrong turns and repeat passes by a darkened warehouse before we figure this out. This is where we find ourselves watching local rap group H.I.S.D., made up of guy trio Equality, Savvi and Scottie Spitten, prep their 25-minute opening set for rapper Rakim this Saturday at Fitzgerald's.
H.I.S.D. stands for Hueston Independent Spit District. Since coming together in 2006, H.I.S.D. has created not only their own sound, but their very own way of looking at things.
"We have this philosophy called 'spacing up,'" says Savvi.
The group has also put out five albums and EPs. One of those albums, The Weakend, comes with its own companion comic book that tells the fictionalized tale of H.I.S.D.'s origins. (The real story: Savvi and Equality were high-school and college comrades; they met Spitten and his brother, group producer King Midas, at a Lamar University event.)
Their new album, Spaced Up, is on its way, though there's no particular release date. Right now, all that's important is this once-in-a-lifetime concert with a living legend.
"It's always an honor to do shows with people we respect."
That honor was supposed to have come months ago, when Rakim was originally scheduled to perform in Houston. However, Hurricane Sandy forced his cancellation.
"[This show is] basically a makeup for that show," said Spitten.
The "crowd" they're performing to right now is actually a living-room wall, but they rap with as much vigor as if they're in front of a crowd of thousands. It's just as exciting as when we first saw them, giving that same energy to the Houston Press Music Awards showcase audience last summer.
"We consider him to be one of the people who's spaced up," Savvi says.
As for this weekend...
"Just a hodgepodge of stuff," says Spitten about what he group will perform Saturday. "We'll do a couple of stuff from the EP we put out."
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If you arrive early enough on Saturday to witness H.I.S.D.'s opener, you might find the group to be a bit different from other rap circles. Instead of money, cash and hoes, they're more concerned with enlightenment, positivity and clever flows. Then again, what would you expect from a group who named themselves after the biggest school district in Houston?
"We felt like we wanted to be teachers of music," Equality said. "We consider ourselves teachers and students."
"We try to show people that hip-hop can be a performance art."
H.I.S.D. and Roosh Williams open for Rakim Saturday night at Fitzgerald's, after the championship round of the Space City Beat Battle.