MP3 of the Day: H-Town Underground All-Stars

We heard a rumor bubble up a while ago about how a couple of the Houston Press Best Underground Hip-Hop nominees were supposed to be working on a group track together. There was even supposed to be a co-sign from Bun B worked in there somewhere.

The names rumored to be involved with the project periodically changed, but the message remained the same: the song was to be an official signaling that these were some kids who intended on doing more than putting out a few semi-seriously taken mixtapes.

Now, we are uncompromising proponents of the underground hip-hop scene, but even to us it immediately felt like one of those My Eyes Were Hungrier Than My Belly situations.

And then we heard it. And holy crap. It is fantastic.

And then we heard it. And holy crap. It is fantastic.

We'll dissect it into four parts.

First of all, the specifics: It is a collaboration track featuring Nosaprise, Hollywood FLOSS, Fat Tony and B L A C K I E, all of whom are nominees in this year B.U.H.H. category. They each got about eight bars apiece (or roughly 20 seconds) to do their thing. Production is by Chris Rockaway, who did some work on UGK's stellar UGK 4 Life, and the scratches are by DJ Energizer.

Second, the production: A big, big part of the reason this song is so good - we would rank it among the best rap songs to come out of Houston this year, mainstream or otherwise - is the dichotomy that Rockaway creates by providing the foursome with a beat that is the complete opposite of what a Houston rap song is "supposed" to sound like, and then finagling a hook out of one of the founding fathers of Houston's signature sound to lay over it. It might be way more consequential than he intended.

Thirdly, the implications: this shit is for real. It is a blatant call-out to those who have argued that Houston's hip-hop scene has gone stale. It's also a backwards dig at all the underground MCs that didn't make the track to step their game up. (We specifically asked Fat Tony if that was one of unspoken but understood messages of the track and he responded, "Oh, man, I definitely intended that.")

Lastly, the little things:

  • About the only thing more surprising than B L A C K I E actually agreeing to do the song, is that he killed that shit. He is on some straight Louisiana gutter rap nonsense. And apparently, he didn't write any of his verse down. He just went into the studio, listened to the beat for a few minutes, and then, in that shy, eyes-averted manner of his, said, "Alright, I'll say this." And then did it. Nutsos.

  • Notice that B L A C K I E's part is a little more purposefully intense than the rest. There are loads and loads of crashes in there, whereas there are only four in Tony's. That difference is magnified by there not being any chorus in between their verses. Very smart.

  • Incidentally, these guys would make a perfect boy band. Fat Tony would be the understood Leader, but Nosa, who would play the role of Heartthrob, would be nipping right at his heels. Ultimately, Nosa's desire to be the leader would wedge the group apart, and fans would be divided along Pro-Nosa or Pro-Tony lines. This would eventually lead to their untimely downfall.

  • Hollywood would be The Funny One, or The One That Parents Would Feel The Least Threatened When Their Daughters Begin Hanging Up Posters Of Him In Their Rooms. And B L A C K I E would be the batshit Crazy One. He'd probably ride a motorcycle and maybe even smoke a cigarette in at least half of their videos. It all works perfectly. That has to count for something.

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Shea Serrano