2014 might have seen Houston embrace its trap side harder than any previous year. The visual side of local rap didn't offer much change, though, moving more into singular-focused shots of artists and their surroundings. The issue here is that some of the city's more provocative videos -- Doughbeezy's "I'm From Texas," DeLorean's "Picture Me Swangin'" remix and a few others -- won't necessarily see the light of day until 2015, sadly missing this particular list but getting a huge leg up in the run for next year.
Even the most splattered and visceral images, those that made Maxo Kream's "Lewinsky" video for example last year's best were relatively gone in 2014. In their place stood plenty of posturing, self-aggrandizing shots that brought Houston artists' love for standing in certain spaces front and center.
With apologies to Just Brittany's "Something Different," Doughbeezy's "Bumpin" and Lil Keke's "It Didn't Matter" (to name a few), these 11 of the year's best videos all decided to either dance around the concept of superhero talk or embrace it head-on.[jump]
11. BeatKing feat. Gangsta Boo, "Come Off Dat" I've been afraid of Gangsta Boo since 2008. Back when Gucci Mane was barely scratching the surface of releasing mixtape after mixtape, his Hard to Kill tape dropped and "Stick 'Em Up" decided to be the anthem between me and my friends. Has Gangsta Boo always been threatening on record? Yes, even when being sexual on OutKast's "Call Before I Come" and before that on Three 6 Mafia tracks.
"Come Off Dat" just kicked in plenty of old, nostalgia Three 6 moments from the horrorcore approach to BeatKing in a Jason mask. It bats leadoff on their Underground Cassette Tape Music mixtape which has gotten so much praise it made a Rolling Stone year-end listicle. Thing is, you see Gangsta Boo rap the things she says. You see BeatKing turn Halloween into his own personal twerk playground and you literally have zero idea whether to be afraid or aroused. And that is a scary damn feeling.
10. Travi$ Scott feat. Young Thug & Rich Homie Quan, "Mamacita" This will not be the only time you see Travi$ Scott's name pop up in regards to the end of the year in Houston rap. It is also not the only time you will see love for his Days Before Rodeo mixalbum, which showed up at our doorstep this summer and expanded on the game plan that Owl Pharaoh revealed last year.
On the surface, "Mamacita" is a near holy trinity of new-age weirdo rap. There's Young Thug spastically dancing and flaying about with his almost skeletal six-foot frame, and Rich Homie Quan, who seems normal even though he reminds many of David Ruffin. Then there's Scott, letting his body be surrounded by zombie strippers, plenty of post-apocalyptic imagery and Christ references, among other things that stand out. The fun part? That there may finally be some middle ground where Houston's noncomformist flamboyant side can exist with its grit-and-floss side and everybody is aware of it.
9. Fat Tony feat. Trpl Blk & Akhl Sesh, "Insecure" Oh, to have dated Overweight Anthony then versus dating him now. In the summer, weeks after we had already laid out our mid-2014 best-of list, Fat Tony snuck in "Insecure," a track dealing with flames past and present featuring Trpl Blk and Akhl Sesh. The concept was decent enough on record; watching it stretch to perfection on camera is even better.
You see, unless you pin down a high number of your exes and parade them around in a circle in a Christmas Carol-like twist, something like "Insecure" may not work. Instead, our director here slices around certain instances and fixates Tony and Blk on a double date where past and present may collide. Argue it down or not, Fat Tony and company always try to put a little something different when it comes to presentation. Remember the "U Ain't Fat" video?
8. T.H.E.M., "Shaolin Blow" Know what's a different course of action? Turning into the literal hype for a fight. Since the dawn of "bro life," a gym playlist has been as essential as spray-tan oil. T.H.E.M.'s "Shaolin Blow" is as Wu-Tang as it gets for the expressive and eclectic Houston collective, with karate kicks in the background and multiple verses all geared towards individual skill sets.
So why would you pay attention to watching a bunch of guys, who may or may not truly exist, watch two dudes prepare for an MMA fight? Easy. There's a slick inner storyline working within "Shaolin Blow," one of Danny Ocean and Evesborough Films' overlooked talents. The ability to tie in conflict is key with sharp cuts and focuses on each fighter thinking each may come out on top. Only winner here is the director and the soundtrack he's basing the story on.
Story continues on the next page.