Pop Life

"I'm Sorry," But Koppo Is Not To Be Brown-Boxed

"I apologize I'm here/ It's my fault for trying to live/ My word is all I have to give/ So I'm sorry/ Now I know I was born into a world that I ain't my home/ Maybe they'll love me when I'm gone/ Til then, I'm sorry" - Koppo

Perhaps no rapper in Houston is better at lyrically capturing the plight of the tatted, thug-living Latino in the hood than the grime rhyming, sad-story telling Koppo, a "Mexican Z-Ro" of sorts who's managed to bring bullying delivery and some sorely needed lyrical sophistication and polish to the heavily saturated gangster rap scene of the Latino community.

The scene in no way lacks in fan following from its own, but it has yet to find a breakthrough artist who can effectively cross over to gain citywide respect and undeniable stature in Houston's crowded hip-hop underground, versus being immediately boxed in or pegged due to their skin color.

In blunt terms, the "Mexicans can't rap" stereotype has to be overcome. The stereotype represents the big brown elephant in the hip-hop room. And Koppo of The Fam Entertainment music label could very well pull a 187 on Dumbo.

He's a man whose style can either irk you or grab you at first taste. He regurgitates his own poverty- and death-inspired desperation and "fuck the world" sentiments with gravelly-sounding hooks and exasperating vocals. You get the feeling he's exorcizing anxiety, distraction and despair from deep within him. Depression's never been more fun to listen to.

When you get past the fact that Koppo is brown - which many non-Latino listeners have to when encountering a hip-hop artist who isn't black, because gold grills and brown skin can be a "shock to the system" contrast if you don't cross the tracks too often - you find a legitimate artist who should be integrated into the Optimo Radio playlist.

"I'm Sorry" was the track that got Rocks Off's attention. It's a life-defining piece for Koppo during a time when he was dealing with the shooting deaths of two close friends - one to the bullet of an HPD officer - and being practically homeless sleeping in abandoned homes at times, he tells Rocks Off.

Should he stay on the track of chronicling thug life with drowning sorrow peppered with some good ole gangster tunes, he should emerge, because the content of his music is relatable to those in the hood regardless of race and his music is above par to the barrage of mixtapes and albums that flood our in-box.

Koppo feat. Romanze & V-Zilla, "Real Life"

Koppo feat. Romanze & V-Zilla, "Real Life"

While the video from "I'm Sorry" has some unintended comedic moments (like when he wakes up to search for gunshots on his body), you have to respect the honesty that comes with this artist. In this particular video he's animated as a cartoon, but there within, you find Koppo's strongest traits: Realness and distinction.

It's real because the pain and the events that caused it are real, and it's distinct because it isn't what you would expect of a rap video. It's very revealing of the man's inner emotions and thoughts.

Intended or not, Koppo can make you feel the stomach grumbling from not having enough money to eat, the pain of losing a loved one to street violence, and the resentment of a shitty card-hand dealt to you by the world; kind of like Coast, but in a more gutter context.

But Koppo isn't bluffing whatever hand he was dealt musically. "I'm Sorry" isn't a one hit-wonder in this out in the open but overlooked corner of Houston's underground rap scene. He's consistent in creating good rap and that constitutes Rocks Off keeping tabs on this young man.

Preemo, V-Zilla and probably Coast (when he drops Livelihood) are arguably the only artists who happen to be Hispanic in Houston who are good enough to keep hidden from the ducked "Latino rapper" label, which Rocks Off has shamelessly used many times. But Koppo has that potential of letting his music speak for itself and define him versus his physical traits and ethnic affiliations defining his music.

He's rapping outside the brown box, if you will. Follow him on MySpace and Twitter.

Email Rolando Rodriguez at [email protected].

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Contributor Rolando Rodriguez is the co-founder of Trill Multicultural.