Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? I've got to admit, the only reason I, also known as Jef With One F and No Idea What He's Talking About When It Comes To Rap, got interested in Renazons and their main boy Recon Naissance was because their Facebook was covered in a wonderful set of murky, mysterious live videos that made me think of a good David Lynch musical scene. Aside from that, though, Recon's skills are impressive and you'll be glad you stumbled across him and his group.
Recon started rapping the moment he first heard the genre, having grown up in a household that listened to country and oldies. He started out with a song about a Wookie, and while that sort of thing can conquer a niche market it's not the work of the elite. His mature compositions are almost anti-gangsta in their approach, deploring greed and upholding strong monogamous love. He's looking to be a poet, not a pop star, and to really say something from his soapbox.
Renazons has an interesting approach to music, using pre-recorded beats along with guitar lines by Matt Goetz to achieve that unworldly but organic texture that the songs tend to have. The result is almost beat poetry in a way, and grabs a listener instantly.
Home Base: Anyplace Recon can find a quiet meditative spot to throw on headphones and use a loop pedal, he'll bust out a notebook and get to work on his next song. Disconnect from the world around him is the only thing necessary to jump start the process.
When it comes to performance, he likes Fitzgerald's. He likes how the club is both a sanctuary of Houston music history and at the same time still kind of a dive. "It looks like the place has been ransacked by bands over the decades and I love that," he says.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Houston has been my home as long as I can remember, although I was born in New Orleans," he says. "I thought about moving to other places that are more 'scene friendly,' but if I can't make it as a musician in the place I'm at, what makes me think I'm ready for the world?
"I like the challenge of Houston," Recon continues. "Folks say there isn't much of a scene, and I look at that as the perfect excuse to make one that we can be proud of. There are so many talented musicians in this city, and I believe we can be great. So far the best 'scene' I have found has been at the HFT (Houston Free Thinkers) events; diverse array of artists, musicians, and most of them local talent."
Good War Story: "Let's see," he opens. "There was one show, not as Renazons, where we couldn't get the sound working at all. Matt started playing a riff, and a fellow musician Tim Rozek came up and beatboxed through the whole song. I spit out some raps, made a chorus on the spot, and now it's one of our songs.
"So more of a winning the battle kind of war story, which is far from normality!"