As a legend and someone who's done everything on his own terms, Lil Keke sees the current climate in Houston and must adapt. Hence him crafting his first-ever free mixtape in Da Leak. In our conversation, Keke tackles the mentality behind some of the city's newer artists and what we can expect to hear on his upcoming album, Heart of a Hustla. We let him start.
Lil Keke: I see a lot of the new music; some of what's going on is that everybody isn't gonna be Drake and Wayne and they don't see that. I don't do this for free; I make money off of this. If I don't make no sense of getting to the money, then I don't understand it. I don't knock it, but it's going to run you into the ground.
I see new artists making all the videos; they diving off the wall, tiring and wearing themselves out. They wear themselves so thin that when it don't pop for them, they don't understand. One thing about the streets, when you make good music, they don't go nowhere. Win your hood, win your people.
That's what I loved about [D. Sims]. He brought his people out; they aren't scared to support him.
Rocks Off: Do you feel like a lot of the newer guys feel entitled about their position. Like they deserve to be at a certain spot?
LK: Well, the bad thing for them is that the game's crowded now. I got to eat when it wasn't crowded and I was damn near the only one. Now it's crowded and you have to do something significant. It don't matter if they feel like they're owed something 'cause you have to outwork.
For example, Doughbeezy, look where he's coming from — that's work, work, work, work. Some feel they get a chain, do me a video, they're ready. Find out how to eat without the radio. That way you can really eat.
RO: What can people expect from Heart of a Hustla?
LK: People automatically thinking, "He'll be talking about some street shit." Nah, I'm talking about the cab driver, the single parent, the schoolteacher. I'm talking about the dude selling rocks. Anybody that changed that situation and got hustle in their heart.
I'm not talking about the man under the bridge with both his arms and his legs and he got the sign when McDonald's is right there. I'm talking about the hustler who goes from McDonald's to the newspapers to my own idea, hustlers. This is quality street music.
Amanda Palmer: Crowdsourcing or Exploitation?
Amanda Palmer is learning that Biggie was right: More money does in fact equal more problems.
Awhile back, Palmer created a Kickstarter project for her new album and tour. Her thousands of fans came together to donate, and the end result was a project that had $1 million to its name.
Whether she knew it at the time or not, the reality is that money is a blessing and a curse. While it allows her to work as an independent musician away from the corporate music landscape, it also allows people to use that money as a weapon when she makes unpopular decisions.
This is how "Amanda Palmer crowdsources musicians for upcoming tour" becomes "Millionaire wants backing band to play for free."
The facts are these:
Amanda Palmer made $1 million to fund her album and tour, among other things.
Amanda Palmer wrote a blog seeking volunteers in the various cities her tour is hitting to complement her touring band. These "professional-ish" musicians would be paid in beer, high-fives, merch and/or thank-yous.
People got really upset with this request. Cory Garcia
Note: The day after Palmer played Fitzgerald's last week, she announced she would pay all the musicians she hired for the duration of the tour.
Things That Make Us Feel Old
Are these the most anticipated Albums of 2013? Seriously?
Last week a Web site (magazine?) called Loudwire posted its list of the most anticipated rock albums of 2013. The first question we have is "Anticipated by whom?" Because if the answer is "People who love music," then we've got some major problems here.
4. Alice in Chains
The second album from the post-Layne Staley incarnation of Alice In Chains. Rocks Off never listened to the first, 2009's Black Gives Way to Blue. All the best to the band and their new singer, but we just couldn't do it. Sorry. And even if Layne Staley were still alive, would we be excited enough about a new Alice in Chains album to put it in the Top 10? For the answer to that question, please see the Pearl Jam entry.
Will it be any good? Don't know. Not something we can bring ourselves to get into, good or not.
Will it actually come out? We would have bet that the 2009 album wouldn't happen, but it did, so this one probably will, too.
In case you hadn't picked up the pattern already: This is not a list that gives any semblance of a shit about new, exciting music. Sure, Tool are a great band, and yes, it's been a good long while since we had new material from them, but for Christ's sake, does anyone involved with the making of this list listen to any bands that were formed in the last ten years?
Will it be any good? Maybe, but yet again we have a band whose prime is past in this depressing Top 10 list. Unless you really believe that whatever we hear on this album might be as good as or better than Undertow, in which case, may the forces of good forever protect your gentle, optimistic soul. This is sad, Loudwire, fucking SAD.
Will it actually come out? Who even knows with Maynard?
2. Black Sabbath
Previous entry's ranting aside: We admit we are very curious about this one. Sure, the last album by a band called "Black Sabbath" came out in 1995, but this is the first featuring most of the original lineup since 1978. Yes, Ozzy, Tony and Geezer are all back, missing only drummer Bill Ward, who couldn't reach an agreement in contract negotiations. Really, Bill?
Tony Iommi recorded some of the music that will be on this album while undergoing chemotherapy, but you just couldn't iron out the fine points of the contract, huh? Anyway, unlike the new Judas Priest album, we actually have a reason to care with this one.
Will it be any good? Well...the last album they did together, Never Say Die!, was not very good. But they have had a while to fine-tune, so we'll give it a fair listen.
Will it actually come out? Seems like they're pretty serious about it. Everybody but Bill, that is. John Seaborn Gray
We Want the Airwaves!
KACC Is Houston's Last Great FM Rock Hope
Like a wound that never truly heals, the sorry state of commercial rock radio around here continues to be a sore point for many Houstonians. Not a day goes by that several people don't search for 103.7 FM on the Houston Press Web site — almost two months after the station changed formats from Adult Alternative to Christian rock.
Just last week, a post to the Reddit's Houston subgroup called "Why does Houston radio suck?" drew almost 200 comments. With today's vastly improved mobile and wireless technology, people seem to be abandoning terrestrial radio in general in favor of satellite radio, custom streaming apps like Pandora and Internet stations like the recently revamped Rock 101.
But there is one FM station in the area that is "Texas Loud, Texas Proud" — it just happens to be a low-power station on the campus of Alvin Community College, staffed almost entirely by students at the two-year school. That would be 89.7 FM KACC, the "Gulf Coast Rocker," and it's not going anywhere.
Longtime KACC Station Manager Mark Moss is in a better position than most to know that Houston has a rock-radio audience that feels its needs aren't being met. He's doing everything short of sending up signal flares to remind people that KACC is there. Somehow a lot of them find out anyway.
"All the radio stations are rated by Arbitron, and for years we didn't even show up on the scale," Moss says. "And now we are. It's a small share, but nonetheless it's still the fact that we're there. If you start looking, we're actually rated better than other stations that are much higher-power than us."
Because it is supported by Alvin Community College, KACC is not beholden to advertisers for revenue, which means that it can be a little looser and more experimental with its playlists. Moss emphatically believes the chokehold local commercial stations exert on their rotations, limiting air time to only a few well-known hits, is a big reason many listeners continue to abandon terrestrial radio.
"I mean, you can only hear the same song so many times before you switch the channel," says Moss. "You know, I think 'Hotel California' was a wonderful song. And it was well-written, but after about 15,000 times of hearing it, I really don't need to hear it anymore." Chris Gray
The Myth of Man
One thing that Houston has had for decades is an incredible avant-garde noise scene. Bands like Fiskadoro, Female Demand and Black Leather Jesus all bring definition to the indefinable genre here in town, but the king of them all is Jon Read, better known as the Wiggins. He followed the evolution of experimental noise here all the way from Cleveland in 2003 and has maintained an A-level artistic status ever since.
His new album is The Myth of Man, and in many ways it's both amazingly new and comfortably typical. All those Read touches are there: Punk-rock voice, the rockabilly twangy guitars, and the industri-goth drum machines and distortion. Each track is a quick shot of something cheap followed by dirty sex in the bathroom of your ears.
The notoriously touchy artist, infamous for his wild onstage behavior, was kind enough to sit down for a brief interview about the record.
Rocks Off: Houston has always had a pretty damn impressive experimental noise scene, and you're definitely one of the brighter spots in it. Why do you think the city is such a fertile ground for the avant garde stuff that you do?
Jon Read: I'm not sure how fertile Houston is for experimental stuff, or at least it has a fraction of the audience of bands going for a mainstream sound. Aside from outsiders like Jandek, the scene doesn't have much patience for much of anything homegrown or from the "dark side." Time-tested genres (pop, garage, blues) are the way to go in Houston if you want a big crowd or any press attention. Music is conservative and in a cultural lag now, and on the surface Houston reflects that.
I don't know why so many people do experimental music in Houston. The music scene seems to want to shake this history and is more focused on what people in Brooklyn are doing.
I have a wide range of taste and enjoy genre stuff, but I should think in this age, someone like me, or Indian Jewelry, Cop Warmth, Future Blondes or Fiskadoro wouldn't be considered "weird" or even experimental. It's sad, it's like Nirvana never happened and we lost a war. I still sell records, so fuck it. Jef With One F
The Wiggins play with Wicked Poseur, Hearts of Animals and Fiskodoro Friday, September 28, at Walters, 1120 Naylor, 713-222-2679 or www.facebook.com/waltershouston.
Fiona Apple, Out of Jail
The arrival of Fiona Apple's tour bus at Bayou Music Center Friday was a soothing sight to fans, as many feared the beloved musician wouldn't make it out of jail in time for her scheduled show.
Apple was arrested September 19 in the West Texas border town of Sierra Blanca after small amounts of marijuana and hash were discovered on her tour bus by drug-sniffing dogs at a border control checkpoint.
Lucky for us, Apple was released Thursday on $10,000 bond, leaving her time to make it to Houston after all.
We didn't have to wait long for Apple to acknowledge the arrest.
But those hoping for a lucid account of the incident were out of luck, as Apple instead used her platform to communicate a personal vendetta of sorts against four people who evidently mistreated her during her overnight imprisonment at Hudspeth County Jail.
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"I just want to get this out in the open," she said as the crowd cheered wildly in knowing support. "The guy who runs that jail is a good guy...I want to apologize to him for being attitude-y."
"Most people there were very nice to me," she continued. "But the four of you...I want you to know I know everything you did," she cryptically warned. "I wrote it all down, as you stupidly thought I couldn't see or hear you."
"I will fucking make you a celebrity," she quipped, providing zero details. "Until then, stay in your fucking cell."
Your guesses are as good as ours as to whom or what Apple was referring. Neph Basedow