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Houston's Best Underground Rap Tapes of 2012, Most Assuredly (Pt. 1)

I'd guess that nearly all of the time, the order of any list is impacted considerably by external, unrelated, completely unimportant factors (to deny that seems entirely senseless). To wit, empirical evidence: Recently, I posted a message on Twitter that said I'd be eating at a restaurant near my house in 48 hours. I asked everyone to come. I did not anticipate that EVERYONE would come (or, maybe I guess I hoped that everyone wouldn't), but I expected that SOME would. And they did.

By the end of the evening, approximately 25 separate people came by. Some stayed and ate and some stayed and talked and some others just came and introduced themselves and then left. Their function mattered not though; as soon as someone new would show up, I felt myself immediately liking them more. Fundamentally, my relationship with each of them was only marginally affected (of all of the people there, I only spoke with M. and I. for more than two minutes, and I already knew I liked both of them very much), but philosophically EVERYTHING was different.

It's like that with everything of all things all the time. It just is. IT JUST IS.

That said, this list, THIS LIST HERE, this list is LEGIT.

These are so clearly the very best Houston rap tapes that came out this year that it almost feels silly to even lay them out. But we shall*. The anthill will be stepped on. God's work needs to done.

*The only rule put in place is that no artist can be listed more than once, though that rule was put in place almost specifically for Le$, who released some 47 mixtapes these past 12 months. He probably put out two more while you were reading this intro. Grit.

14. M.U.G., Money and Pain Mean and menacing and gritty and purposeful, M.U.G. flexed an inordinate amount on his January release, Money and Pain, justbarelyedging out king One Hunnidt's regal Keeping It 100 and Short Dawg's bubbly March Madness for inclusion on our MIGHTY TOP 14.

13. Dante Higgins, Rhymes For Months Dante Higgins is a rap dynamo, and generally masterful in a guest feature role; that seems obvious at this point. And his ability to manufacture a storyline out of nothingness is nearly unmatched on the local indie circuit. But his fans already understand that. And while Rhymes For Months possessed a genuine Song Of The Year candidate "Rhymes For Months" and an ultraheartwarming song about a ultraheartwarming things ("Prom Dress"), it didn't do anything that we didn't already know (rap his balls off, basically).

12. Kyle Hubbard, You're Not That Special Few rappers are able to discuss their own rapper illegitimacy in a manner that makes them completely legitimate; on You're Not That Special, Hubbard (yet again) did exactly that.

11. Amber London, 1994 EP London's 1994 EP was among the first to champion one of rap's greatest time periods (both Jett. I Masstyr and Doeman had songs called "1994," the former better than the later by about two paces but neither better than this), and an undeniably strong effort. If you want to argue that she should have been placed up closer to eighth or ninth, that seems perfectly reasonable.

10. Undergravity, The Underdawgs From Undergravity I don't imagine any rappers had a more impressive move creatively than that that Undergravity pulled off going from their most previous project, last year's mostly forgettable Space Jams, to this year's positively inspired The Underdawgs From Undergravity. Need proof: Their rattling, SUPER FUNK track "Undergravity" demolished a hearty portion of the underground Houston rap songs that came out this year, AND IT WASN'T EVEN CLOSE TO BEING THE BEST SONG ON THE ALBUM. (If there is a God in heaven, the transcendent "Some Moe Funk" will eventually earn them $1 million). If they actively hone in on their "space age funk" sound, which they did for about half of this album, they will make absolutely undeniable music.

9. Rob Gullatte, Abortion: The Project It seems likely that Gullatte will only ever be a Houston commodity, which sucks for him but is WONDERFUL for everyone with ears; the cognitive dissonance of deserving to be famous but not actually being famous serves as the inspiration for his mostly dazzling rap performance on the gruff/gritty/cathartic Abortion: The Project.

8. Doughbeezy, Blue Magic "I ain't gotta sell dope, people purchase me"

-- Doughbeezy, making maybe the most insightful statement of 2012

Doughbeezy has become Houston's ARCH-HUSTLER, more an all-around experience than solely a rapper. He appears to actively hunt fame and recognition, singularly driven and superheroically inspired. (If one day we all come to find out that he's powered by some sort of nuclear reactor that's been implanted in his chest, I don't imagine anyone will be too surprised.)

It doesn't seem unreasonable to conclude that if he were banned from rapping, he'd just do the shit out of something else until people started giving him lots of money to do so. It's remarkable, really. That said, HE IS STILL A GODDAMN MONSTER RAPPER, and the hearty, imaginative Blue Magic was nearly twice as good as his last tape, Reggie Bush and Kool-Aid. His fame seems inevitable, sure. But at this point, so too is his talent.

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