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.
Propain #Departure (Self-released, 2010)
Propain is one of the (if not the) most devastating forces within the New Houston Collective*. He's gritty and grimy and astute, three character traits that, paradoxical as it might seem, are hyper-magnified by the fact that he's educated.
His #Departure, which very neatly packaged nearly all of his strengths, was one of the very best Houston mixtapes of 2010. It rated as the 15th best rap project in Houston this year, though it's not unreasonable to argue that it should have been placed somewhere closer to 9 or 10.
* "New Houston Collective" the official term to identify all of the very best new rappers Houston has seen emerge these past two years. There are categories within the New Houston Collective to help keep everything organized, for example, Thurogood Wordsmith and Propain are both a part of the NHC, but in entirely different branches. More to come later.
Y'allmustaforgotability: 93 percent
Though the reach of Propain's fame seems to grow longer by the minute, it's still hard to, at random, find somebody that can name two songs off of this tape. This score will drop markedly in 2011, we imagine.
Ed. Note: Google notwithstanding, Houston's Propain should not be confused with the extreme metal group Pro-Pain.
Best Song on the Album: "Real Talk" ft. J-Dawg
It's no coincidence that the best song on #Departure is the J-Dawg-assisted "Real Talk," considering that, at the onset of his career, the sincerity (and occasional anger) in Propain's flow immediately drew a line connecting the latter to the former. Pro is especially visceral here, especially open about his hurt, two qualities J-Dawg has all but trademarked recently.
Most Unexpectedly Enjoyable Moment on the Album: On the frothy, radio-built "Don't Even Worry," Propain proves himself almost better at Plies' schtick than Plies. It's hard to listen to the overwhelming and aggressive bravado in that song and not want to scream and punch and kick every unfortunate thing in your path.
Argument You Didn't Expect To Have With Yourself After Listening To The Album: Which is more appealing, slavery or a mental disorder?
"Family Tree" was written from the perspective of a slave -not a modern day workaholic version of a slave, an actual slave, complete with slave vernacular ("I's tired of..."; "What'd yuh say, massa?"). "Bipolar II" was written from the perspective of a guy with dueling personalities - bad guy with a good heart vs. worse guy with a bloody stump for a heart.
The first verse of "Family Tree" is so wickedly clever that you almost have to replay it immediately. The ferocity of Worse Guy in "Bipolar II" is so genuine that it's hard to convince yourself that those "Fuck Everyone, Fuck Everything" feelings aren't rattling around in Pro's head for real. It's a genuine coin flip to decide which is more effective.
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Obscure Fact(s) You Can Pawn Off As Your Own To Make Yourself Look Smart:
- Right before "Family Tree," there's a brief sample of Ice Cube from when he was in Higher Learning. Remember when Cube used to be a gangster? That was fun.
- This mixtape has a trailer -like an actual movie trailer. What's crazy though is that it doesn't make you hate him; it's actually pretty interesting. Figure that shit out.
Watch the very end of the "Real Talk" video, the part where J-Dawg is leading a prayer. Notice at the 4:01 mark and 4:03 marks, when the two guys immediately to the right of the sir in the red Houston cap peak up to see if the camera is still recording the prayer.
For whatever reason, there little peaks are very, very funny. We watched them over and over and over again, like, at least 15 times.