I’ve had conversations with Roosh Williams dating back to 2011.
He was pushing his first album, Common Struggles of a Modern Man, and the single “No Hard Feelings” with Killa Kyleon and Renzo. Then he was a relatively clean shaven, UT-Austin graduate with a bit of an edge to him. He rapped with a ferocity; an appreciative smoker, he could always put a bong or bowl down just to light up a verse at warp speed. He had opened up for The Cool Kids then, just as Scoremore was starting to fully become a brand as both talent booking agency and the promoters for emerging rap acts in the state.
He’d become a fixture on the Austin rap circuit solely because he went to UT and was arguably the best rapper on campus. A former slacker at Katy Taylor High School, Williams had righted himself in college. It was like one day he went from devout Rockets fan who just wanted to get by to really-big-deal-serious-Roosh-Williams in four years.
And now that he’s 27, Roosh Williams is saying goodbye to Texas.
Feeling that he wanted something new to try out, Williams was accepted to the law school at the University of Southern California for the purpose of earning a doctorate of jurisprudence. Roosh Williams, Attorney at Law, doesn’t feel the same as Roosh Williams, supernova rapper, but Roosh doesn’t care about attributive labels. Remember, he’s the same guy who jokingly made a song called “Waffles & P*ssy” when working at the Apple Store.
The son of Iranian parents who moved to Houston from Tehran, Williams has faced some controversy in his Houston rap life. In October 2014, he got into a squabble with ESPN’s Michelle Beadle over Dwight Howard when Howard was still a member of the Rockets. Earlier this year, his Twitter account was erroneously linked to “legal rape” blogger Daryush “Roosh V.” Valizadeh, bringing forth a ton of questions and attention Williams never asked for.
Yet he's navigated all of it with a smile, a humorous Snapchat account where he mostly shows off his arms, his comedic chops and his dog and his raps. Friday is his final Houston rap show, at Eastside almost-secret venue the Safehouse, and it’s arguably the perfect Roosh Williams rap show. For one, it’s free. Kyle Hubbard, a similarly built rapper who, ironically enough, was Williams’ neighbor all the way back in the fourth grade and initial rap brother, will be there. So will Lyric Michelle! And T2 The Ghetto Hippie! And Doughbeezy! Thus, it was time for one final conversation with Roosh Williams. Well, at least before his super friends rap show and proper goodbye to the city.
Houston Press: All right, so, you’re leaving. To California. How did people take the news you were leaving not just for music reasons but for law school?
Roosh Williams: Ya know, I don't think a lot of people are aware of the fact that I'll be attending law school. But, the reception has generally been positive.
Is it similar to how people reacted when you told them you were a private-school teacher?
[Laughs] Perhaps. Both reactions involved people being pretty surprised.
I mean, considering your daily appearance is reacting to things like a wise Rockets-loving Tommy Chong...that kinda can be expected.
I’m inclined to agree.
But Roosh Williams, Law School Student, has a ring to it.
Do you think so?
Has about the same ring as Roosh Williams, completely devastating rapper. they kind of go hand in hand.
I would argue that they may quite possibly be separate entities, alternate individuals.
But they both inhabit the same body.
And this is my daily battle.
Is one Roosh Williams a mild-mannered guy who smokes weed and occasionally could argue logic for a living and the other a pretty impressive rapper who never got his just due?
So are both Roosh Williams’ going to exist at this going-away show tonight? By the way, when did you get the idea that a Roosh Williams & Friends concert would be the best going-away present?
Yes, that will be the Rdouble Doblèsito that you get tonight. And I wanted to go out with a bang, my friend. 'Twas the only option.
At this venue in particular. With some of the best, most passionate artists whom you’ve collaborated with in the past.
Doesn't that seem appropriate? I like to do things the right way, m'Lord.
It’s appropriate and fitting. Like wearing a Michael Jordan jersey in front of Steph Curry’s face to remind him he’s not there yet.
[Laughs] What are you going to miss most about the place you’ve called home for damn near 30 years?
Tex-Mex food without a damn doubt. And my family and friends, of course.
And the best thing about heading to Los Angeles?
The weather. Wait, have you ever been to Griddle House Cafe? Best breakfast in the world.
In the world, Craig?
Food and weather. Sounds like it’s less about work and more about relaxation.
I wouldn't say that. Change of scenery is required for development, growth, and productivity.
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What about the Houston rap scene has drained you, so to speak?
I wouldn't say the Houston rap scene has drained me. I don't think that's entirely accurate. It's natural to feel drained when you're in one environment for an extended period of time.
You just want new challenges.
I need new challenges. I think you know just as well as I do … priorities shift as you mature. Focus shifts as you mature.
Right. You've chopped your hair, made a personal mission statement to go West and leave without any regrets. Do you think a younger you would have even considered this? Even after UT?
Honestly man, probably not. Think of The Rock. Phenomenal wrestler and showman in the ring. But also, much more than just a wrestler. Maybe I'm arrogant or simply ignorant for comparing myself to the Great One, but I view myself the same way. I'm a damn good rapper...but my ceiling is higher than that. So I wanna push myself to prove that.
Roosh Williams final Houston show (for now) takes place at The Safehouse. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show is free.