New Houston Rap: In Memory of M.U.G.

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Normally the Houston rap column would start off with an anecdote about my life, or something that happened to me that inspired me to write something poignant and funny and stuff, but this time that would be misleading.

This past Sunday afternoon word got out that M.U.G., a bowling ball of hardened street rhymes and heat-seeking rap purpose, was gone. Dead. There's been speculation about exactly how he died, but from the moment the Instagram posts and tweets began rolling out, I knew something was different.

If you knew him, M.U.G. was quiet and rarely raised his voice unless embattled in a discussion about music or knee-deep into a verse onstage. He seemed like the second coming of J Dawg, the two of them perfectly matched in Boss Hogg Outlaw harmony. His last tape, 2012's astute and relatively smart Money and Pain, was lauded and placed in its proper context as one of that year's best projects.

There's so much untold with M.U.G., not just from a street standpoint but from a life one as well. Trakksounds, a man known for letting his piano sail on where he channels the earliest output of Mike Dean, says the two of them had tons of unreleased material. I expect a tribute to be made at Tuesday's Trae Day from Trae Tha Truth himself. He's like Superman in that regard, someone who despite all the chaos around him can offer a moment of serenity and peace.

That's what M.U.G.'s family needs, and what a lot of the Houston rap scene needs at this point, a sense of balance and outright purpose. For M.U.G., it was family and telling a slice of street life that to him felt authentic because he had lived and breathed it.

Rest easy, M.U.G. I never knew you directly enough to call you a friend or even an associate, but I saw what progress you were making -- and that, to me, was enough.

Doeman, "Prelude To Gold Blooded" Friday, Doeman, the Latino spitfire who first came out our attention two years ago and became an even stronger force thanks to his alignment with Propain and an even more dedicated passion towards rap will release his Gold Blooded album.

"They'll never take this empire they have built for me," he raps on "Prelude to Gold Blooded," a potential album-opener where he admits to quitting his job all because of belief in himself and the dream he has. Proper, solid, tough.

Story continues on the next page.

Eskabel feat. BeatKing & Kadafi, "Either Way" For a while it felt like Eskabel would transfer his good looks and razor-sharp flow into a massive, city-wide uprising. Instead, sadly, he has seen plenty of career pauses. But "Either Way" bullies its way into your head, knocking you around with massive drums and hi-hats.

DJ Chose himself puts BeatKing's breath control dead in the middle of the action, every word enunciated to fit around Eskabel's threats and tough talk. Bonus points for Kadafi turning into French Montana a bit, playing Houston rap karaoke with not only a Chose verse but a Travis $cott one as well.

GT Garza, "Seen It All" In the land of "Seen It All" freestyles that are bound to happen, Garza's is first. Somehow DJ BRyte thought it was clever enough to include into her New Ish At 9 mix on the Box last night and it's a proper Garza moment, religious, braggadocios and all about stomping a few emcees out who dare test him.

Ant Watts, "Ya Know" Two projects into the year and Ant Watts doesn't think he should be slowing down anytime soon. "Ya Know" comes around as a standard rap affair, isolation from haters and those late to the party. At least Ant celebrates his two daughters success and thumps his chest in a kind of Count Of Monte Cristo sort of way.

Slim Thug feat. Young Von, "Diamonds" On paper, Thug and Von should have made an entire tape together in the vein of Birdman and Lil Wayne. Nevertheless, here's "Diamonds," a creaky, snail-paced cut where the two men boast and brag, brag and boast, and pretty much do the things we know Slim is known for and has now passed off to his nephew in kind.

Brando writes about Houston music to death, right here and as editor-in-chief of dayandadream.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_brandoc.


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