Kickback Sunday SF2 Premium Clothing (215 Greens Rd.) January 2, 2010
7:59 p.m.: As a good a job as you like to think you're doing as a parent, know that it's never good enough. For example, we don't cuss, smoke or drink in front of our sons. We don't let them disrespect their mother, we make sure that they receive a reasonable amount of foodstuffs to eat each day and we don't take them to the Walmart in Meyer Park (also known as Stabmart). We have all of the bases covered.
So how are we to act when we go upstairs to start getting our 3-year-old sons ready for bed and find them both naked as the day they were born, Boy A running around with a plastic bag hanging from between his butt cheeks, Boy B with a pair of swim goggles hanging from his. Why would they do such a thing, you ask? "Because we're lizards, Daddy. It's [the swim goggles] my tail." Fuckin' A, man. There's no proper way to handle that situation.
8:45 p.m.: Quick rundown: SF2 is a clothing store with all kinds of cool stuff, and all kinds of cool people shop there. Nine weeks ago, it started the "Kickback Sunday" event, an open-mike of sorts for whichever rappers felt like showing up. Almost immediately, it became the spot for networking within the Houston rap scene.
You have to sign up to perform. The list to perform is put out at 5:30 p.m., and full by 5:32. That's not an exaggeration. Average attendance now is somewhere between 150 and 250 people each week. So here we are, seeing what all of the fuss is about.
8:49: The guy who produced Beyonce and Jay-Z's song "Upgrade You" is here, doing an a cappella rap just because. The best line: "My living's straight, your shit ain't even permed enough." Cool. You know what's kind of weird? "Permed" for white people means curly hair, but "permed" for black people means straight hair.
8:50: Man, performing here looks to be about as intimidating as it can get. It's just you standing there with a microphone. There's no stage, no fancy lights, no nothing. You're eye-level with everyone. Yeesh.
9:02: KAB is up. Have you seen that guy? Imagine a refrigerator with gold teeth - that's him. He's tough. And good, a bona fide throwback to Houston hip-hop. He spends a lot of his energy being intimidating, which is typically the best way for big guys to handle being big guys. His set is a lot of fun, though he may have just tried to lift a version of Serius Jones' (we think) line "You know why you're outta shape? You've got a lot of squares in your circle." Still, proper showing.
9:03: Just ran into Young Sensation. Up until this very moment, we've only ever corresponded with him via Twitter and email. As soon as we tell him who we are, his eyes immediately do the, "Oh shit, all of this time I thought you were a woman" squint.
9:21: Mr. Inkredible is here. Did you know he's not black? "I lot of guys think that," he says with a smile.
9:22: Yet another wrinkle at Kickback Sunday: After four or five rappers go up, they'll then do a cipher and the crowd judges who performed the best. All of the winners will compete at the end of the night in a super-cipher. The winner receives ownership of an original DJ Mr Rogers beat. They're ciphering it up right now. The effervescent Snoopy shines.
9:26: Hey, J-Boss is here. So are his muscles. And his forehead. Pow!
9:32: Some 15-year-old young pup from New Orleans is up now. His name may be Tyler, though we're not certain if that's spelled right. He's strong, one of these newer guys who are more Drake than Don Ke'. He may have just taken an unprovoked swipe at Ahmad Rashad. Good stuff.
9:37: New guys are up. You know it's not going well when people start looking around at each other making the "Are These Guys Serious Right Now?" face. Ack.
9:45: The ultra-talented Boss Hogg newbie Le$ just walked in. As did the ultra-talented ex-Boss Hogg vet Killa Kyleon. An astute observer might make some kind of joke about reincarnation.
9:49: "Hit the pussy like Mortal Kombat; finish a bitch." Excellent.
9:51: They're doing another cipher now. KAB is muscling his way through it. He's cool because it seems like he finishes every verse with "What, Muhfuckah!?" Incidentally, that's the same way we finish every transaction at Kroger.
9:54: Judging for the final cipher is at a standstill. It's a toss up between KAB and New Orleans' Tyler, though Killa Kyleon, who we've been chatting up for a bit now, is petitioning for a different guy. When we ask him the name of the guy that he's singled out, he responds, "I don't really know, but he was eatin'." This apparently means that he did a good job.
Now, there is a fundamental argument found within these types of situations: Are freestyle rhymes more indicative an MC's prowess? The guy Kyleon singled out clearly did a written rhyme during his set, which is what most people have done tonight. Some people are saying KAB should win by default because his seemed more like a freestyle. Kyleon, a renowned freestyler, has taken over the talk, settling the discussion with what has to be the best rap-as-basketball analogy of all time: "You mad 'cause a nigga came to the game with his shoes tied and you slippin' on the basketball court." Done.
There will be a three-person rap off for the title between The Monster (KAB's unofficial nickname that we just assigned him), New Orleans' Tyler and Kyleon's pick, Dough Beezy, a rapid fire Southeast Houston MC. If Kickback Sunday's appeal were in question up until this point, it's immediately clear now. The room is buzzing, pushing in tightly. If all three guys do well, this could be very excellent. Tyler's up first.
9:56: Tyler settles into his Drake-ian ways. The kid is likable, that's for certain. He doesn't seem overtaken by the moment. Good, good. The females in the crowd certainly seem to have selected him as their favorite. It's amazing how being young and talented and handsome tends to do that. The Monster is up.
9:58: Jesus. The Monster is, well, being monstrous, snarling and showing his teeth and just generally being menacing. Fifteen seconds in and he's won the crowd over. Each punch line brings an "OOHHHHHH!" from the crowd. The guy standing next to us: "He just won." The light's on Dough Beezy now.
10:00: OOOHHHH SHHIIIIITTTT!!!! Dough Beezy just went off. He absolutely snapped. Guys are literally high-fiving each other in the crowd. So, so sick. He went the written route, with the place exploding with excitement when he made a joke about getting head and then going to eat at Pappadeaux (an ideal night for all Houston males).
Even our wife let out a yell, and she likes rap about as much as you like getting kicked in the balls. There's your winner, folks. They don't even need to vote*.
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Personal Bias: It'd be great if this were held at SF2 South, because SF2 North is all the way on the other side of the goddamn planet.
The Crowd: Was excited to be there.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Yeah, it's good to be on the blogs, you get a nice little buzz. But you don't get any money. That part sucks." - Le$, on how Internet acclaim doesn't necessarily translate to Bank of America acclaim.
Random Notebook Dump: *They did vote. And Beezy did win. Kyleon christened the occasion with, "I told y'all, I told y'all."