This year, the New Houston Collective has really become a force. In no particular order, their attendance sheet: Fat Tony, Propain, B L A C K I E, Hollywood FLOSS, Preemo, Eskabel, Hubbard, Nosaprise, hasHBrown, Thuro, H-Kane, Delo, Les, Roderick, The Niceguys, John Dew, Montana, Virgo, Dirty & Nasty, Kirko Bangz, Young Sensation, Lux, H.I.S.D. and D-Risha. Those are just the guys we found right now while scrolling through our iPod's discography.
It's beyond impressive, really, and becoming near impossible to keep up with everything everyone is doing). We say all of this, of course, as a not-very-subtle means of explaining away how it is that Nasty Nique's very cool EP, Breakfast of Champions, went unnoticed for the past two months.
Some notes from the EP:
The entire EP is one big hat-tip to the Houston Rockets, but, and this is important, not the Rockets' entire history. Oh no, no, no. This tape only celebrates the teams from 1993 through 1995 (i.e the non-shitty ones). Lots of people have done lots of theme albums, but we can't remember too many that were as specific as that.
It's semi-obscure, but it's also entirely meaningful and with purpose - Nique clearly adored these teams growing up - which makes it interesting and not ostentatious.
This might be the only rap album this year that references the '90's TV show Blossom, which ran on television through 1995. And there's a song called "NBA JAM Freestyle" where he raps, albeit a little awkwardly, over the video game's beat. (That game came out in 1993.) There are lots of little subtleties like that.
To that last point, only two songs on the EP are less than five minutes long. Most rap songs from the mid-'90s were about the same. That's probably not an accident.
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The front half of the EP plays (in cadence, anyway) like Nique grew up on Eazy-E rap, a circle that closes tightly when he remixes Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day," which came out in 1993. Smartly, he leaves the production alone entirely and focuses his attention on localizing the content. High-five for that.
Each song has a standard title, which references the actual song, and a parenthetical one, which references a significant moment from the Rockets during the aforementioned time period. For example, there's a song called "Being Popular Sux," but the full title is "Being Popular Sux (Kiss of Death)," with the Kiss of Death part referencing Mario Elie's parting shot at the Phoenix Suns after the Rockets defeated them in the playoffs.
Incidentally, there's a longstanding rumor that if Z-Ro makes direct eye contact with you, your internal organs will instantaneously turn to stone. That too is referred to as the Kiss of Death.
Download Breakfast of Champions here. Name your own price.