Remember back in mid-May where we broke down the Best Houston Rap Songs of the Year (So Far)? It was a small sample, only five, knowing good and damn well there was an avalanche of tracks just waiting to be either heard, jammed in a large setting preferably at high volume or mimicked and pantomimed in showers and bathroom mirrors city-wide.
We've already crossed off tracks by Roosh Williams, Easy Yves Saint, Trae Tha Truth, Damilare and DeLorean, but it's best we knock out the other tracks that probably made you want to run down Scott Street with your shirt off thinking you owned all of Third Ward.
10. Killa Kyleon feat. Slim Thug & Kirko Bangz; "My City" The lineage of Houston's Best Hook Man goes something like this: Billy Cook, Ronnie Spencer, Big Moe, and now the handle belongs to Kirko Bangz. It's not that Bangz dominates with a mid-level soul man's work like Jack Freeman or digs around emotions in falsetto like Lee-Lonn Walker, but on "My City" especially, Bangz's chorus becomes chief among Slim Thug's gruff slander on haters and Kyleon's punishing verse. Hell, even Bangz gets in on the act with his own middle-finger salute.
9. Z-Ro, "I'm Alive" Whenever Z-Ro gets backed into his full one-deep mode, magical things happen. He's fire-breathing menace and thump on "I'm Alive," emoting enough moments of pure fire-breathing solidarity that he, to this date, still only gives a good goddamn about himself and himself alone. By the way, what the hell ever happened to that Tripolar release, Rotha Vandross?
8. Travi$ Scott feat. James Fauntleroy, "Drive" If you're curious, this is the best song from Owl Pharaoh. Despite whatever attempts "Upper Echelon" may want to prove here, it's the aural coast up and down 59 by the George R. Brown of "Drive" that wins out. Plus, James motherfuckin' Fauntleroy is on this.
7. Dat Boi T feat. Young G & Doughbeezy, "Nothin But That Screw" Fine, we're pretty much suckers for a ESG sample worked into a trembling husk of Screwed Up Click tropes and idioms. Dat Boi T might be one of the last remaining torch-bearers for the SUC and "Nothin' But That That Screw" emulates that era to a T, from its sample right down to the sterling verses from Young G and the always-capable Doughbeezy.
6. Maxo Kream, "Whitney Houston" The best example of a visual capturing the full idea of the song? Maxo Kream's "Whitney Houston." As a music video, it operates in the same atmosphere as standing in your neighborhood being menacing. But as far as constant punchlines and carrying enough cachet to make Maxo seem like Alief's version of Beanie Sigel? The song trumps it, point blank.
5. Le$, "Playa 4 Life" Le$ had already sucked up all the waves of luxury low-key rap with "Boats & Heauxs" and the staggering "Autobahn" (with New York bruiser Smoke DZA) but all of that pales in comparison to the glorious relationship/pimp-talk on "Playa 4 Life." Seems like the first time in a minute, his guard finally slips and he pulls himself right back together without letting us really know it.
4. DeLorean, "Young Legend" DeLo has a habit of making either the intro or the second track of a tape really, and I mean really, stand out. "Young Legend" fits in the same mold that "Aarrghhhh" did from HP2, despite little differences. First off, "Young Legend" is jazzy as all hell, and DeLo's dropping one-liners about women in his DMs on Twitter wanting to be his baby mother. If only Dwayne Wade had those issues...
3. BeatKing feat. DJ Chose, "Throw Dat Ahhh" True, BeatKing & Chose's club monster of ratchet infectiousness came around the late point of 2012, but it pretty much remains the biggest thing that exists on their April Club God vs. Club Devil. It's handclaps, chants and a giant wave of instructional twerking.
2. Slim Thug & Z-Ro, "Loving You" Was there ever a better love song that made the concept "money over females" make sense to a woman than this? I've even quizzed some of my female friends and they unanimously agreed. Ever since he lured Dwight Howard (sorry Chandler Parsons, Houston still loves you), I'm of firm belief Slim Thug could sell you oceanfront property in Iowa. With a surfboard.
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1. Propain, "Father's Day" There's no heavier track on Propain's Ridin' Slab than "Father's Day," him sitting at a lavish dinner surrounded by the benefits of success before catching eyes with the man who abandoned him. Every sound here cackles just right from the hospital monitor beeps, the empty footsteps, the piano stabs and Pro's anger just getting funneled out, his albeit selfish wish of his father fully leaving him finally coming true. It could have become corny and fell flat in execution but shit does this rip at you.