New Local Rap That Almost Soothes Rockets' Playoff Sting

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I lost bits and pieces of my life last week, no thanks to the Rockets. Plenty of tweets, curses and Jeremy Lin mistakes had me willing to punch my television and completely rage out in a music-blogger form of The Hulk. (The less said about the series' heart-stopping finale, the better. -- Ed.)

How does that tie into this delayed Mixtape Monday column? Because the last rapper to make a Rockets theme song worth mentioning dropped a massive video with another guy who could make about a dozen Rockets punchlines about silly Mohawks, James Harden's inability to understand that defense is a thing and, again, Jeremy Lin. Also, there's another guy whose first visual impression to the world came in a video where a kid played basketball.

Finally, the third guy this week is also a basketball lover, particularly the brand played by a private university in Durham, N. C. He's once more ready to release proper music as a wisecracking lyrical giant, which is something we all need to help us carry on right now.

Isaac Reid, Test of Time About eight months ago, give or take, Reid -- the first rapper to be fully under Trakksounds and Albie Dickson's school of futuristic piano and bass, with Knock City -- released Nothing To Lose. While solid, that project somehow got lost amid a mountain of local mixtapes and projects. Test of Time is shorter by about four tracks and almost exclusively features Reid all by his lonesome.

Why is that? Well, positioning him up against other rather talented and intriguing spitters such as Roosh Williams and Killa Kyleon, not to mention Houston's own version of a red-eyed Yoda in Devin tha Dude, made it feel like he was being hyped as an already-finished product. Here, his rawness gets wrapped around a boatload of production from Trakk's motley crew, namely himself and German producer Heartbeatz, who alternate similar, almost parallel soundscapes that distinguish Test of Time as dark, but lacking either a moment of puzzlement or attempt to try and be everything at once.

Best Song: Between nine songs, halving the EP yields two separate peaks. Side A has the guitar screeches and drummer-boy snares of "Shinin'," where Trakksounds and Dickson do their best at making inspirational music as Reid wraps himself in the identity of an everyman for all time. He's no massive lyrical giant, but he carries himself like one -- a confidence akin to Rick Ross's yarns.

On Test of Time, Reid assets he hasn't gotten love until he started killing verses; on the '90s-like pulse of "Bring the Rain," he keeps pushing that sentiment and completely earns his "Nobody Believed In Us Until Now" card. What do you get when you sandwich two strong songs around plenty of other cuts full of boasting and love? A solid EP that may not completely pull Reid out of his current tier in the Houston rap crowd, but does keep him moving up the ladder. Download here.

More new music on the next page.

Scarface, "No Problem" Either we missed something, but after months and maybe years of batting away questions about releasing a new solo record, Scarface is doing so -- and doing it more than 100 pounds lighter. He's svelte in stature but on "No Problem," the Honorable Brad Jordan can stalk the city streets with the same emotion of The Wire's Omar on the prowl in Baltimore. Every man has a code, and since 2008's Emeritus, Facemob has stuck to his -- and still can blend national sociopolitical issues with what we deal with every day locally.

Dante Higgins, "God Hig"/"Stoner" People enjoy hearing Dante Higgins rap like they enjoy watching Game of Thrones; they know they're going to be entertained and may even get a bloody massacre where they're going to have to tell their friends in hysteria or just keep mashing their keyboards, "OMG DANTE HIGGINS MURDERED THAT SONG, WHAAAAAA"

New Hig is a good thing. Hig on other people's beats where he can talk shit and drop no less than seven punchlines that make me laugh is an even better thing. "God Hig" and "Stoner," our first hints of enjoying his upcoming Let Me Be Great tape, is free Hig, in its most blissful form.

Roosh Williams feat. Doughbeezy, "Ridin Thru My City" Think about it. A year or so ago, Roosh Williams released the multilayered déjå Roo: Times Have Changed, which gave us the year's best opening salvo with a simple intro and a variety of punchlines and stories built around two of his great characteristics: his rapid-fire drawl and ability to always rap like his back is against a wall.

Here, his Doughbeezy collaboration "Ridin Thru My City" gets a visual, covered by both longtime Dough videographer Be EL Be and Chief Doodle. Did it need to be overly simple? Possibly. Did you easily get the effect that Roosh could have a ticker-tape parade in his honor should he ever fully break through nationally? Yes, yes you did.


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