Houston's history is dotted with albums that, fairly or un, have been swept aside. We'll examine them here. Have an album that you think nobody knows about but should? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
D-Risha Big Trouble In Houston, Texas (Self-released, 2011)
Allegiance: North Houston.
Rapping: Can be smart. Can be funny. Can be cool. Can be preachy. Can be ostentatious.
Big Trouble in Houston, Texas: Second tape.
First tape: The Last Dragon.
Hashtag motto: #FuckDRisha
Possible likes: Fun kung-fu movies; Laura Charles; comics
Possible Dislikes: Himself; Sho-Nuff; David Lo Pan
Y'allmustaforgotability: 96 percent
An Exactly 216 Word Album Synopsis: On BTIHT, D-Risha focuses much of his kinetic energy into being clever. He raps things like "Seeing me record is like watching Leatherface redecorate" or "I could give two fucks like Siamese prostitutes" or "The industry is flash and it's hollow, 'cause it's designed to fuck MCs like Erykah Badu" without warning. That fosters one small effect that unfurls into a grander one:
The smaller thing: It makes him interesting. You have to, at least once, give him your attention. You don't want to miss anything. Good, astute writing is fun for everyone regardless of the context. You become invested, same as you would into a good book. And once you fully do...
The grander thing: D-Risha does not shake the Earth. His voice is does not grab you by the jugular and force you to pay attention. You will not notice him walk into a room. And he seems to understand these things. More importantly, though, his wit, which he flexes, flexes, flexes shows that he understand LOTS of things. And that means him smart. And that squares the competition. Plenty of guys are louder and immediately cooler than D-Risha is or looks, but he can match brains with just about anyone in town that you want to name.
That's what makes BTIHT a success.
Best Song on the Album: Three choices here:
The reflexive pick is "Choices," mostly because he says some pretty candid (and brutal) things about his relationship with his mother, and that will poke you right in your heart.
The nerdo pick is
wherein Risha walks through a comicbookization of sorts, ebbing with the croon, croon, croon production, fireballing all sorts of superhero metaphors and euphemisms. (The best line: "Lyrically, your ass'll get capped in America." Captain America. Get it? That's the type of shit we're talking about.)
The correct pick, though, is
Usually, gimmicky tracks don't rate critically, but this one, where Risha explains what very nearly every piece of Houston slang means, is done to perfection. Listen to it. If you can make it through the entire thing without smiling at least once, you'll need to schedule a doctor's appointment quick and get that lump of coal removed from your chest where your heart should be.
The Possible Concern: In the middle of Risha's thicket of bamboo spear punch lines, there are two that stick out. First, in "The Essence," he raps "When your bitch on top is the only time I fuck up." It's a funny line, but it's been used elsewhere by a few different guys. On account of the fact that it's appeared multiple other places (it's even one of those Chuck Norris facts), you can argue it away as simply being a cliché.
However, in the album's second track, "Smoke In The City (So Cold)," Risha, threatening folks, says he'll "leave your ass down for the count like Dracula's people." That's a line from an underground battle between Iron Solomon and Math Hoffa that happened in 2007. And since there's no clear hat-tip to Solomon for it, it's a lift. And if what you want is to set yourself apart from those who have a bolder presence than you and show how smart and witty and original you are, that absolutely cannot happen.
The Part of the Album You Won't Appreciate Until You've Listened To It Entirely At Least Three Times: The production. It's good, invisible when it needs to be and in charge otherwise. Ooh, speaking of...
The "Yeah, You Might've Wanted To Not Try That" Moment: The "Watcha Want" (Beastie Boys) beat is amazing. Amazing. It is also monstrous. And it proves to be a tad to rebellious when Risha tries to ride it into submission here.
At the end of the song, he runs around shouting, "I'ma fuck up somebody's year tonight." It is a fantastic assertion, and in that moment, he is the big dick. But it is a tad too little a tad too late. He totally J.R. Smiths* that shit.
*J.R. Smith is the fiery of-the-bench gunner for the Denver Nuggets. He's an emotional player. And he is not above coming into a game, draining two quick threes, dunking it on someone's head, then pounding his chest like a madman, only for you to look up at the scoreboard and see that the Nuggets are down by 17 with 0:40 to go in the fourth quarter. That's a J.R. Smith. That's how you J.R. Smith something.
Obscure Fact(s) You Can Pawn Off As Your Own To Make Yourself Look Smart:
There are four guest features here (Herney the Great, hasHBrown, George Young, Bishop Black). Herney is impressive, but the surprising hasHBrown stands tallest. His best line: "hasHBrown is the new balance. Fuck Asics." That's a running shoe joke, yo.
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There is only one Houston-fried track here. It's called "We Holding." Lots of people will say things about UGK's "Diamond and Wood" when they listen to it. Naturally, this song was produced by a producer in Chicago. Go figure.
"Save The Day" was written in 30 minutes.