Dustin-Prestige’s rap mind no longer has a vacancy. Had you created a list of Houston rap acts who had everything from charisma and a hard-knuckle approach to songwriting talent, the Mo City MC would have been near it. Then something happened — he stopped releasing music.
“Dopecoming," an October 2014 release between Presto and loquacious producer Chris Rockaway, served as the final Dustin-Prestige solo release. Still, the two-plus years that Prestige has spent in project vertigo since have yielded a few noticeable moments and pop-ups. He was there for The Houston Elite MCs' Nonpareil compilation album, and has consistently chipped in on T.H.E.M.’s Virtual Reality Caravan podcast. The image of him playing a psycho serial killer in Ronnie West videos had long dissipated. Dustin-Prestige was a mere civilian who just so happened to rap, the perfect alternative to hard-nosed rapper unwilling to let it all go.
“Dark liquor in my veins got me to’down, two-fist it/ About to buy two more rounds,” he raps on “Shameless,” a cut from his recently released DoPe album. He’s driving himself back to the bottle, to the days of the “Catalina Wine Mixer” and the Southside Power Rangers. He’d never claim to run toward alcoholism or even a serious drinking problem with backstory attached. “Shameless,” along with the general parchment of DoPe, proves that Dustin enjoys his head loaded with everything but actual reality: “A Long Island make you swim different.” DeLorean is asked to show up as a designated driver, highlighting naiveté toward Screwdrivers and general weariness toward non-sponsored drinks.
It’s peculiar to note that Prestige has often worked as an outsider, yet as still part of a crew. Nothing about him screamed that he wanted to be an in-your-face act with a cheeky grin. “Is he really that dude, is he really that cool?/ Or is he really a dickhead who’ll turn on his friends?” he asks on “Ode to a Dopehouse,” the tape’s closer. For the duration of the tape’s 11 tracks, Presto is all over the place. He rocks in between nailing down geography lessons about touching down from 610 to Mo City to name-dropping 2234 alongside Doughbeezy. There’s little homages to sitting around a table full of Cubans like Bomani Jones on “Perfecto." All of these different arcs and moods are strung together by buoyant production; at times dark and at others sunny enough to ball and parlay. The only person asked to operate through this chaos of sex, drugs and the occasional competitive jousting match? Dustin.
If one were to attempt to match Dustin’s career path with that of a critically acclaimed but oft-forgotten show, he’d be The Shield. Carrying the same sort of parental advisory from FX that “dopecoming” chose to sample, The Shield was about a precinct in the Los Angeles Police Department where half of the main players were corrupt, battling demons or straddling the fence of good and evil. People who love FX will tell you about how The Shield predated the golden age of television we’re still sitting in. People who continually paid attention to Houston rap acts during the first half of this decade will tell you that Dustin-Prestige operated like a pissed-off ghost with something to prove time and time again.
“Life of a socialite,” he bemused years ago. DoPe finds him pushing around church organs with the same ferocity that ignores all of the faults and scars. Still as if “I Am Legend” is less song and more mantra. “I tried to tell them niggas quiet as kept/ I’ve been dancing with the Devil,” he bellows out sternly on the open. “The Preacher man said, ‘Speak it into existence it’ll be’/ but my weed man said he’ll charge Jesus for the D.”
There’s a human approach to that line of thinking. Besides dealing with loving sex and attributing all a woman does to the perfect high, Prestige weighs the risk/reward factor of loading up without a care in the world. Knowing about love and other drugs, he sings “Got It 4 Cheap” alongside screeching guitars that sound buried inside of an empty bottle. Or how one drugged-out night gave him fire sex and a questionable relationship on “All Apologies.” He has no true benefactors or anyone to depend on but himself here. All in all, DoPe doesn’t feel like a rap tape from somebody who chose to stay away from the spotlight for two-plus years. It feels more like a voyeuristic trip through a weird, intoxicating night of one Dustin-Prestige.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
Dice SoHo feat. Slim Jxmmi, “Goin’ Up”
Mike Dean has made a habit of using his younger disciples (Travis Scott, for example) as tools to break the sound barrier. The louder and the more menacing, the more Dean can create these liquified tracks that bubble all over the place. “Goin’ Up” feels so rooted in the late ’90s, and yet Dice SoHo & Slim Jxmmi are too occupied thinking of money and women to care.
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Tony Dark feat. Sundown of Actual Proof & Brice Blanco, “2:40 Type Shit”
Anytime a producer like Tony Dark subtly tells you he’s going to be The Alchemist for a full tape, you listen in. “2:40 Type Shit” is scaled-down precision from Tony as Sundown & Brice Blanco trade the mike until they’re completely satisfied.
TrakkSounds feat. Doeman, Roosh Williams & GT Garza, “Oh Lord”
We’re about two weeks out from TrakkSounds’ new album being here, and it sounds like three separate generations of Houston rap rolled into one. “Oh Lord” came yesterday via the Chronicle and features three guys you always want to hear rapping, regardless of the time of day. “I told the Devil we ain’t about to dance today,” excellent rapper turned law student Roosh Williams says. “When I’m passing by my mama, she say, ‘Look at my baby,’” GT Garza states. “Mike Tyson in ’89,” Doeman refers to himself with the loudest stench of bravado near him.