South Park Coalition 25th Anniversary Numbers April 14, 2012
Over the past 25 years, few rap cliques anywhere have been as prolific and consistent as Houston's South Park Coalition. To celebrate a quarter-century worth of underground rhymes and grinds on Saturday night, the S.P.C. brought both the quality and quantity of music it's known for to the dark, dank confines of Numbers.
It was an interesting pairing of artists and venue. Much like Numbers, the S.P.C. seems as though it's been a fixture of the Houston music scene since the dawn of time. Both have weathered constantly changing trends in the music industry by doing their own thing and never apologizing for it.
Though the corner of Westheimer and Taft is about as far away culturally from the corner of Bellfort and MLK that it's possible to get without leaving the city, the long-lived dance club somehow seemed an altogether fitting place to celebrate the legacy of one of Houston's most influential musical forces.
The show started late in the evening -- it was 11 p.m. before anybody turned up with a mike in his hand. Longtime local hip-hop fixture Wickett Crickett served as the evening's master of ceremonies, directing artists from the stage to deliver their CDs to the sound man and cracking jokes and telling stories between the openers' sets.
There was no shortage of S.P.C. affiliates ready to warm the room up for the Southside legends. Short, fat-free sets from Chucky the Killa, Shan-No, Poosie Lee, DJ Icey Hott, Cl'Che and more kept things bumping right along as the club's battered and tattered dance floor continued to fill.
After the clock struck 12, the curtains closed onstage as the Coalition assembled for an epic session of pass-the-mike. Announced one by one, S.P.C. mainstays PSK-13, Murder One, Ganksta NIP, Point Blank, Sniper, Rapper K and K-Rino took the stage together along with more than a dozen more rappers, friends and family.
There were a lot of hugs and handshakes going around, both onstage and in the crowd. Clearly, this was a special night for all involved.
The clique's set blasted off to a powerful start courtesy of -- who else? -- Ganksta NIP. The whole group (and a large portion of the audience) shouted along with the South Park Psycho's opening rhymes to "Horror Movie Rap:" "A tisket, a tasket, a bloody, bloody basket/ Cut his head and ate his leg, now he's in a casket."
That charming nursery rhyme was immediately followed up with his verse from "Bring it On," the hard-hitting track from the Geto Boyz' 'Till Death Do Us Part album featuring the whole Rap-A-Lot family. It was a fantastic opening salvo.
After a couple more raps from NIP, the mike-passing began in earnest. The whole clique came together for a few rhymes from 2002's Personal Vendetta album. Point Blank delivered verses from "High With the Blanksta."
The crowd was into all of it, but nobody was having more fun than the Coalition members themselves. Apropos of the occasion, the S.P.C. was engaged, energized and having a hell of a time up there.
The most exciting moment of the night came as K-Rino delivered shout-outs to the Coalition affiliates who spent the group's anniversary behind bars.
"Free Pharaoh!" he shouted. "Free Dope-E! FREE KLONDIKE KAT!"
And as if by magic, the Kat was freed, indeed. Apparently fresh out the joint, Klondike burst through the stage curtains and immediately jumped right into "I'm Gangsta." It was an oh-shit surprise that highlighted just how deep and loyal the S.P.C.'s roster rolls.
Cool as that was, K-Rino took the mike next and just killed everybody with his "Book #7" and "Ghetto ABCs." If this guy's not the best rapper in Houston history, he's on the short list.
The music kept on and on as it got later and later. Everybody got a turn on the mic, with cameras, camcorders and smartphones crowding around each. The crowd started to thin out after 2 a.m. or so, but the S.P.C., true to form, displayed no intention of going anywhere.
At times it felt like they were trying to fit another 25 years' worth of music into a single night.
In an attempt to wrap things up, the clique came together one more time for Point Blank's "Slipped Into a Coma." K-Rino thanked everyone for coming and praised fans' loyal support.
"If it wasn't for y'all, we'd be up here rappin' to the sound man," he said. "Please eat this cake! We got way too much cake."
I slipped out of the club to head home at 2:36 a.m. Inside, S.P.C. members were still rapping away. After 25 years now, it seems pretty clear that they'll never stop.
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