Note: this article was written according to the format of our now-retired "Rocks Off 200" series. But it still works.
Who? In a lot of situations, being honest doesn't necessarily net you the most positive response. At least, not in the veins of Houston rap. When Ryan "Ryno" Mast, Craig "BayouCity Bizzle" Brooks and Warren "Double" Cormer sit in front of a camera in an isolated room, they're not there to come off as journalists reviewing new and old music from the city. To them, it's almost like a taped barbershop discussion.
The trio, who dub themselves Bayou City Reviews, have become infamous in the city not only for their review style but for also becoming an object of scorn. Not from other media members in Houston, rather the rappers themselves. One such story, according to BCR, involves Roosh Williams using plenty of ample stage time to send shots in their direction.
"BCR, in my humble opinion, is the long-awaited honesty that the Houston music scene has been yearning for, whether they realized it or not," Ryno says of the outfit. "We have no sides to choose or cliques to be a part of. Also, coming from the artist side of things myself, I know all about positive and negative criticisms."
To date, their YouTube channel has amassed more than 104 videos and more back and forth on Twitter than most lists would generate on a daily basis. Their form of criticism, straightforward and sometimes biting, has led to some pretty interesting discussions about what constitutes legit journalism in the blog era of Houston rap.
Of note, BCR don't consider themselves journalists. Double even jokes as such.
"We're like a book club, except we listen to music instead of reading books and 'cliff notes' are forbidden," he says of their style.
"We built this brand off of honesty, and will protect that brand no matter what," adds Bizzle. "BCR doesn't get everything right but you get a listeners thoughts at its purest form."
What Is It About Houston? Despite all three claiming Houston as home, their arrivals to the Bayou City aren't the same. "I moved to Houston shortly before high school, from south Alabama," Ryno states. "I lived in a town called Seabrook, a suburb south of the city. Coming from a literal one-stoplight-town, even Seabrook seemed huge to me."
"As the years went by, I grew to love Houston and all the surrounding areas," he adds. "This city has everything, thus why I still live here and no have plans on leaving anytime soon."
Double and Bizzle, though, are born-and- raised Houstonians, and won't let you forget it anytime soon. "I am Houston, I was raised Houston, all I know is Houston," Bizzle thumps. "I've traveled all over and still remain Houston. No other place in the world can compare to Houston. Houston has a culture and lifestyle of its own, so it would only make sense that we cover the streets we pass every day."
Ryno's appreciation for the city digs into that old romantic idea that the moment you come to Houston, everything is going to keep you here. "From doing music myself, and exploring all the diversity of so many artists around the city, it was honestly shocking to see there was other music out there that differed from the Houston stereotypes," he says.
Why Keep Pushing the Button? The crux of Bayou City Reviews isn't their knack for pissing people off, but the fact that they're actually making people aware that not everybody will immediately clamor for a new tape or project.
"We keep pushing the restart button because this is what we love," Bizzle exclaims. "Music! Who is hot? Who the fuck is trash out here?! Why are these cats hot?! It's a lot of artist out here that are dope as fuck but nobody gives a fuck about them or giving the time of day. So dammit, we are."
Double adds, "It's shameful to me that I considered myself a fan of music but had zero idea of all the talent right under my nose."
Favorite Review? Everybody has his or her favorite piece of work. It's self-centered but if you don't love yourself, who will? The troika of Bayou City Reviews can't agree on one particular review as their favorite but they can at least discuss the ones that have given them the most grief...or notoriety.
"My favorite review has to be the P Hound Action review just because so many people gave us shit about it," Bizzle remarks. "The funny part is that after they gave a thousand excuses of why we were wrong, they agreed that mixtape was wack. So it's wack but BCR can't say it. Fuck out here."
Dub contends differently. "My favorite review is Doughbeezy's Footprints on the Moon," he says. "It displayed what we aim to accomplish on Bayou City Reviews, which is to take a musical journey of each artist's available catalog. It allows for the discussion of artistic growth (or lack thereof) and generally following their careers.
"The only thing that could be considered the 'downside' of the review is I'm convinced that Doughbeezy is convinced that I'm out to get him or talk down on him at every chance I get, which could not be any further from the truth," Dub adds.
Story continues on the next page.
Good War Story? We'll let the guys take it from here:
Double: I have not told any rapper to quit rapping. Just because I, personally, don't like their music, that doesn't mean others don't or won't.
As for a story, it's very hard to pick one but, Roosh Williams may have the most hilarious (with shameful results) reaction of all the artists we've covered because he took issue with me questioning, during the Better Late Than Never review, how he actually got "popular" making vapid songs which exercise futility.
This led to him becoming very salty and addressing us onstage with his trademark baritone, Doughbeezy-inspired, rapid-fire flow full of empty calories at a show where T2 The Ghetto Hippie performed which was followed by other understandable sensitive behavior by Roosh.
To be completely honest, it would have been flattering had any of the 15 people in attendance knew who Roosh was or even cared that he appeared onstage. But, to be honest, nothing was surprising about his reaction to me. He's an artist and I expect him to react negatively when negative things are said about him. I think his reaction and his behavior thereafter has been fair and fitting."
Bizzle: The artist never really just flat-out and say they are mad, it's always "my fans or my friends...don't like this and that." Bullshit. But it's cool; we expect the good and bad. We don't treat the artist any differently, it's all about the music to us.
Favorite Concert? Ironically enough, Bizzle doesn't seem to have a favorite show he's attended. Instead, he has a pretty decent bucket list of acts he'd love to see.
"Out of all the concerts I've wanted to see in my life, I would have wanted to see Stevie Ray Vaughan or Ottis Redding in their prime," he says. "I've seen Janet, Usher, Nas, Robin Thicke and K-Ci & Jojo, just to name a few, and it really made me appreciate the showmanship in performing so I couldn't pick one."
Double, on the other hand, is rather simple with his answer.
"Al Green at the Arena Theatre," he says without hesitation. Ryno can recall hitting a Master P concert at the old Compaq Center when he first moved to Houston but also cherishes opening up for the Pharcyde at Fitzgerald's about two years ago. But he does have something over a few people: he caught the last stop of George Strait's "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour at Arlington's AT&T Stadium.
Music Scene Pet Peeve? Ryno absolutely loathes the Houston concert scene sometimes. "I've been to hundreds shows, where there are just 'too many rappers in the room,' as me and a friend of mine like to say," he says. "That phrase meaning, there are just too many egos and too much pride for people to actually cheer, yell, scream, clap, stand up, etc. while other fellow artists are performing, or have finished performing. It's ridiculous."
Bizzle wants to keep it strictly artist-centered. "All that hoe-ass cosign/political bullshit," he says. "Stop waiting for other people to tell you something is good. Have a fucking opinion. And if that motherfucker is trash, give him the trash can. Stop gassing these booboo artists. It's one thing if you truly like it, but don't be out here lying to people."
Five Desert Island Discs Three men, three different looks:
- Isley Brothers, Beautiful Ballads
- Al Green, Greatest Hits
- Otis Redding, Greatest Hits
- UGK, Ridin Dirty
- Juvenile, 400 Degreez
- Al Green, Still In Love With You
- The Isley Brothers, Beautiful Ballads
- The Eagles, Greatest Hits
- Aretha Franklin, Greatest Hits
- Parliament, Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein
- Jay Z, The Blueprint
- Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP
- Van Morrison, Greatest Hits
- Jimmy Buffett, Greatest Hits
- 2Pac, All Eyez On Me
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
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