We Got the Jazz: A Special Night of Texas Hip-Hop Beats and Rhymes Fitzgerald’s December 8, 2007
Better than: The end of The Last Dragon when Bruce Leroy realizes he is the master and then whoops Sho Nuff.
Download: “BPM” (Heroes), “Quarters” (SuperROOT), “3 Story House” (H.I.S.D.) and “The Business” (Lower Life Form)
9:48: Walking towards Fitzgerald’s, I pass a homeless guy sitting next to his ten-speed bicycle with a boom box strapped to the back. He’s got the radio turned up and is singing his heart out. And what is Homeless Boom Box Guy’s song of choice? Why, “The Power,” by Snap, of course. I’d better stay off his back, or he will attack, and I don’t want that.
10:20: There is a gentleman standing near the bar wearing a black leather vest with no undershirt. Fantastic. I can picture him at home, thinking, “Man, I don’t know what I should wear tonight. It’s too hot for my leather jacket, but I want to wear something leather. Plus, I want people to think I may be a gay biker…”
10:38: There are quite a few hip-hop hipsters in attendance. I hope Fitzgerald’s stocked up on Red Stripe beer and liberal beliefs.
Sounds like: They will never be mainstream, but will always make music that is important to them.
10:55: Skinny, white and unkempt, Heroes, the earthy hip-hop band from San Marcos, would have been the antithesis to underground hip-hop ten years ago, and now acts like this are commonplace (but still a little too beatnik to be really popular). If they start playing hacky sack, I’m leaving.
11:01: Despite little interest from the crowd, these guys are actually kinda entertaining. They have a 1-2-1-2 type of flow, but it’s mostly experimental, and usually laid over some synthesized jumps with heavy bass kicks.
11:03: Heroes emcee Tone of the Cosmos, rapping about how good he is at sex, drops this gem: “And when we’re finished, then you go the kitchen and fix me some dumplings.” Nice. If I had to make a list of things that I want after sex, dumplings would be near the bottom, somewhere around “A glass of spoiled milk” and “Accidentally calling the girl ‘mom.’”
11:15: I think I’ve gone back in time. Implausible, sure. But then how do you explain the dude wearing black pleated pants? Where do you even buy those? Did Weiner’s re-open?
Sounds like: De La Soul, but more Southern and less polished
11:20: SuperROOT, the El Paso rap duo, is comprised of Rootbug, the quiet, unassuming digital DJ, and emcee Promise Pseudo, a.k.a. Semantics the Superego. I may be wrong, so don’t quote me on this, but I think those aren’t their real names.
11:29: There aren’t a lot of people inside watching the show. (Most of them are outside.) Promise, partially irritated, partially playing, hollers out to the patio, “Hey! All you cool kids on the patio! The show’s in here! You mark-ass, punk-ass, trick ass, mah fukahs! Real talk, if there’s a problem, come see me.” Surprisingly, there’s not a big rush to run up and fight the 6’4”, 240-pound black guy yelling at everyone.
11:36: Two women are walking around wearing belts made out of Christmas lights because, you know, that’s totally normal and not at all ridiculous.
11:45: You know what never gets old? Seeing a hipster kid fall. Kinda hard to look condescending while you’re tripping over a door threshold.
11:51: I just realized that Rootbug is constructing all of the beats live using his Apple computer and beat pad. Pretty impressive. He’s adding lots of bells and whistles to their sound, making it mostly future techs and sporadic thumps.
12:01: There’s a guy walking around in a white button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his collar popped. I was going to wear a shirt like that, then I remembered I’m not a douche.
Sounds like: A more playful Tribe Called Quest
12:10: Hueston Independent Spit District are serious about their shit. I mean, they have a frigg’n portable credit card scanner at their makeshift merchandise table. The convenience store by my house doesn’t even have a credit card scanner.
12:16: For the first time tonight, the dance floor is packed, and with good reason. It seems like there are about 15 emcees on stage (four actually: Savvi, L daVoice, Equality and Scottie Spitten) but somehow it doesn’t seem cluttered. Everybody knows his part and they have a good chemistry. They’re like the Super Friends, but they rap.
12:25: H.I.S.D. respectfully requests a moment of silence in honor of Pimp C, and it is almost completely quiet, except for these two dipshits near the bar who are trying to figure out why it’s so quiet.
12:26: Immediately after the moment of silence, H.I.S.D. breaks into UGK’s “Front, Back, Side To Side” and the place goes absolutely nuts. Best moment of the night.
12:33: Some drunk lady is near the stage doing the tootsie roll. Yeah, the tootsie roll from 1994. Maybe she rode here with Black Pleated Pants Guy.
12:41: Great show. H.I.S.D. are sublimely talented and have a fresh sound. It’s progressive, soul-based, and genuinely spirited. This is what hip-hop should sound like.
Lower Life Form
Sounds like: They should be way more famous than they are
12:53: Two people (whom I’ve never met before) are sharing a table with me while LLF corrects some stage problems. I overhear this conversation:
Guy: Yeah, supposebly she’s coming. Girl: Did you just say “supposebly”? Guy: Yeah, so? Girl: It’s supposevly, dummy. Guy: What? Are you sure? I thought it was with a “b”. Girl: No. It’s supposevly, with a “v”. Supposevly she is coming.
1:15: As expected, show closers Lower Life Form are doing the damn thing. Eggy the drummer is doing what Eggy the drummer does, emcees Brew and PhD are flawless in their delivery, and DJ Ish is in his element.
1:28: Popped Collar Guy is back, except his collar is no longer popped. Maybe right now he’s feeling kind of sad and the height of the collar is dependent on his mood; kinda like a mood ring for douchebags
1:30: More people should have been here. LLF and H.I.S.D have shown that hip-hop may be underground but it’s not six feet underground. (I’m well aware of how corny that sounds.)
1:38: Nobody has sat down since LLF took the stage. They prove once again that they are one of the best hip-hop shows in Houston. (You can read a little more about their sound here.)
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Personal Bias: Brew, the gifted LLF emcee, has actually been my brother-in-law for about six years now. Not really, but that would’ve been a really good bias.
Random Detail: While I was walking back to my car, some crazy, frizzy-haired lady approached me. She yelled at me to give her five cents so she could “make a phone call” and then proceeded to shake some change in her right hand, as if to say, “See, I’m not lying to you. I already have some change, I just need more change.” The only problem was: she was holding, like, $1.85 in change. Apparently, it’s a lot more expensive to make a phone call when you’re bat-shit crazy.