'Holy Sauce': Sauce Walka's War Against Biters

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There's a trope that Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy uses frequently where main protagonist Peter Griffin sees his archenemy, The Chicken, and the two immediately begin to fight. It’s a “destined to do this forever” type of thing, almost to the point where one is just as synonymous as the other. Oppugners exist solely for the sake of balance. If the scales seemed tipped more in one direction compared to the other, you begin rooting for the side with the lesser amount of weight, no? That, in a small nutshell, is what Sauce Walka deals with on a consistent basis.

Two years ago, the scales were pretty much empty. The Sauce Factory, a conglomerate of street rappers from both Houston's north and south sides, had emerged as the city’s hottest brand and collective act. “2 Legited” propelled Sauce Walka away from the headlines and ugliness of a summer 2009 gun incident and into legit local rap star. He, Sancho Saucy and Sosamann in particular couldn’t miss. The year 2014 belonged to the Twinz and the Factory; subsequent mixtapes, freestyles, videos and remixes only added to the notion.

Except one thing that gnawed at Walka like a sting that wouldn’t reduce or simply go away: the reported-to-have-existed (and that no longer does exist) “2 Legited” remix with one Canadian rapper who recently released a subpar fourth album. Now when you see Walka, your mind immediately beckons back to when he had the strongest slice of bars in the summer’s most perplexing rap feud. Now when you see the cover for his Holy Sauce mixtape, you immediately see how Sauce Walka, as he’s stated in numerous Instagram videos, will not stop focusing on letting the world know what he’s created and outlining those he feels have stolen from him.

The four heads depicted on Holy Sauce standing in front of an animated Sauce Walka imitating Christ's crucifixion are Houston’s Trill Sammy, Future, Drake and Chicago’s Famous Dex. Dex’s addition here is attributed to the Chicago rapper’s 2015 buzz single, “Drip From My Walk" — if you didn’t even know what Famous Dex looked like, you'd swear it's Sauce Walka at his most toned down. The enunciated mid-verse yelps that Walka is known for are pretty much gone on “Drip From My Walk,” but that lingo, that talk that Walka and TSF are known for? All over the song. The two have hashed out the situation, though Dex’s cartoon image remains on the cover.

Future earned or, well, found himself in Walka’s crosshairs with “Drippin (How U Luv That)” from January’s Purple Reign mixtape. Again, according to Walka, Future has made the same violations as Famous Dex. Drake’s crimes against the Sauce have been well-documented, but Trill Sammy makes a rather peculiar situation. It may be an attack on generalized street rap in 2016 sounding more and more like four-bar punchouts about dreams and cartoonish aspirations...or merely Walka's actual rap style. Sammy is the only one who saw Walka's cover as a challenge, and, in true Sammy fashion, is just going to rap until the world knows him even more. Either way, Sauce Walka's main crusade, if not the fight for longterm stability in rap, is protection of the wave he’s created, and how there must be a form of homage or tax paid in order to borrow it.

In the mid ’90s, Raekwon accused The Notorious B.I.G. of being a “shark biter" on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. One would think this is a major violation in all things rap, considering how much this genre — to say nothing of this culture — is built on authenticity and originality. Raekwon felt that Biggie jacked Nas’s entire “baby-picture cover” look from Illmatic on Ready to Die. Style-biters have permeated through hip-hop to a point where even complete knockoffs have ascended to platinum No. 1 singles. Whereas flows and cadences get stolen (see Ludacris going after Drake and Big Sean for the honor of hashtag-rap originator), the same goes for entire personas (Rick Ross), full aesthetics (Guerilla Black) or symbiosis (see Drake taking bits of Houston, Miami and Atlanta before moving on to reggae and Jamaican culture). Walka, Rizzoo Rizzoo and other members of the TSF camp have pretty much been annoyed to the point where public declarations like the Holy Sauce cover have people who don’t normally ask about Houston rappers asking about Houston rappers.

If the content of Holy Sauce returns Sauce Walka to his life of pimping, super-gangster pivots and life lessons under the shield of bravado, then it’s merely his giving the fans what they want from him. Many a rap act gets about five years maximum to have the collective year of a larger fan base. Lil Wayne had it from 2005 to 2009, Jay Z from 1998 to 2003, Kanye West from 2004 to 2010. Now Drake is on year six. The rappers and artists we’ve been looking at from a Houston rap perspective are within that same five year window. Only a few get to break out of it. Sauce Walka’s currently entering his third - armed with a position that’s may last far longer than any single bar he drops. Whether he wants to admit it or not, he’s fighting for originality in rap. Agree with him or not, he wants one thing to be certain: the sauce comes from one place and no one had better forget it.

Note: The normal New Houston Rap column returns Monday.

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