All summer I've had to deal with tons of pressed CDs and questions of "Have you heard this tape, that tape?" I totally get it. This stretch of the year, maybe more than any other in recent memory, has been the hottest for Houston's underground rap class. To note, it's completely wiped out every previous inclination you had toward how the year would turn out. It's late July and the halfway point has given us enough material to last until December.
Now we've even reached a point where Street Flava, KTXH's Saturday-night program that has been airing rap videos locally for more than a decade now, is fully absorbing all of the newer videos released by the Houston rap class, almost to a point where staying in until the clock strikes 12 is becoming mandatory.
So let's start there when discussing the halfway mark of 2013, because visually everything is starting to pop, mainly when it comes to the relationship between directors and rappers.
Le$, "Racing" Director: Jorgey Films
Le$ makes cloud-rap seem like an art form. Through inked skin, tons of tacos, Whataburger and a keen sense of direction, he's pretty much cornered the market on a hybrid of Cali-instituted funk, H-Town street wisdom and at times the slow pace of New York's mid-'90s golden era.
"Racing," from his rather luxurious E36 tape, does plenty of advertising for BMW, thanks to the black-and-white love from Jorgey Films and Le$'s seemingly always-cool demeanor.
Maxo Kream, "Lewinsky" Director: Danny Ocean
In most societies, Maxo Kream would operate as a gun-toting menace who sports a blue flag, some pretty decent sneakers and then some. He is the living embodiment of what good and evil look like, all through his blackened eyes and pupils.
How calmly he walks through and eats up "Lewinsky" is one thing. How calmly he re-enacts a scene from his life of robbing people without much remorse about it is a whole other story. QuiccStrikes, whenever it drops, will no doubt be among the more anticipated tapes of the second half of the year. Bet on it.
DeLorean, "Breathe" Director: Chad Tennies
Hey look, it's DeLorean -- the guy who pretty much won 2012 with Hood Politics 3 and subsequently may have had the best local show of the year, wherein he rapped himself into exhaustion. This time he found himself in Atlanta hanging around another breakout star from last year in Curtis Snow -- you know, the guy from Snow On Tha Bluff, which was easily the most-watched thing on Netflix last year. Combine those two forces and I'm pretty certain atoms split and the heavens part. Or we get videos like this.
Dante Higgins feat. Propain & Doughbeezy, "Rhymes for Months" Director: Michael Artis
A year ago, we crowned Michael Artis's visual for DeLorean's "I Keep That" as the best Houston rap video of 2012. This might be his second-best effort, if we're talking about his non-storyline pieces. "Rhymes for Months" just tosses three gargantuan Houston rap figures in a warehouse and tells them to own everything around them within the span of a minute. Don't worry -- we've been trying to tell people for about a year now that Higgins has the best verse of the three.
Anti-Lilly, "A Million Stories" Director: Catch & Shoot
Relative newcomer Anti-Lilly digs through what could possibly be the longest day of his life with "A Million Stories." There's so much fun to be had with the video, directed by Catch & Shoot Films, mainly because it cribs a bit of New Jersey Drive with the car scene and Anti going through damn near every wrong turn imaginable: losing his keys, forgetting his ID for some rolling papers and offering up advice to somebody robbing him. His Memoirs of the '90s tape dropped today; download it.
Roosh Williams, "Introduction" Director: MCMLXXXIX
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Let's see here -- there's a Hannibal Lecter mask, a visage that makes Roo like the Persian Prince of Zamunda, and plenty of other quick cuts that make everything seem like a spiraling twist-and-turn into madness. Williams's deja Roo: Times Have Changed got the perfect kickstart with this thundering colossus of horns and bravado, and who better than Roo Willy to deliver it?