Roughly 84,000 rap albums have been released in Houston since 1989. We're counting down the 25 best of all time every Thursday. Got a problem with the list? Shove it. Just kidding. Friendship. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"You drop one track, he's still alive." -Chamillionaire, on why he aimed an entire dis album at Mike Jones rather than just one trackChamillionaireMixtape Messiah
(self-released - it's a mixtape, duh - 2005) For the most part, we've tried to avoid including mixtapes on the Countdown. But there is no justifiable way that you can make a list of the best rap albums to ever come out of Houston and not include Chamillionaire's originalMixtape Messiah
. Within the context of Southern music, it is a mini-watershed moment, signaling not only the birth of one of the most hallowed mix-tape series in the region, but also the viability of Cham as a solo act. Besides, you can buy it on iTunes and at Best Buy. With the exception of the title, it's closer to an album than a mixtape anyway.
is actually a three-disc set. The second CD is a slowed and chopped effort from OG Ron C and the third is standard mix-tape stuff. The first CD, however, is 20-plus balls-out songs dedicated to embarrassing the shit out of Mike Jones. Cham has always been at his most ferocious when he had an agenda to serve. The first CD ofMM
is the finest example of that. That's the one we're admitting to the list. It starts with 12 seconds of Mike Jones rapping about coming up from nothing over a would-be Lil' Flip beat. It's innocuous, inauspicious stuff. Then there's a record screech and a slightly slowed Eazy E sample gets dubbed in telling Jones to "shut the fuck up, get the fuck outta here." The conspicuous insult is damaging in and of itself, which is magnified by the inevitable jaw-drop that accompanied it; somehow, even with its wildly incendiary commentary on Mr. Jones, only three people knew of the impending attack: Cham, his brother and Michael "5000" Watts.
Even Jones claimed he didn't know it was coming, though that might actually say more about his own wherewithal than anything else. But when that album screeched and Jones was dismissed, everyone was blindsided. You really had no choice but to listen to the album all the way through. Very astute move. But the subtle jab here feels far more clever, and thus more jarring. The sample is taken from Eazy E's 1988 solo track "Eazy Duz It," wherein the person Eazy interrupts is a cutesy little girl in the middle of nursery rhyming. Whether or not Cham actually meant to parallel the little girl singing with Jones's rapping is of little consequence; the relationship is there. Music nerds get a boner over the little subtleties like that, intentional or not. To wit, we just spent 170-plus words on only the first 19 seconds of the intro of the album. The attacks grow more ruthless from there.
There is aRoots
skit that follows Cham rapping over Westside Connection's "Bow Down," another nice little aside, that is funny enough to eventually be sad. Cham persists in calling Mike Jones "Dyke Jones" for the duration of the album, which is the kind of simplistic thing that gums at your ego forever; we wouldn't be surprised if Jones eventually starting going by "Michael." And though there isn't an explicit explanation as to why he attacked Jones in the first place, the general message is clear: Mike Jones is a fraud*.*This would become woefully clear over the next few years, as the Press's Mike Giglio wrote about in a recent cover story.
Jones eventually fired some potshots at Cham, though nothing really substantial (that "candle vs. the sun" analogy Jay-Z made seems apropos here). And the rift between the two MCs has since been mended. ButMixtape Messiah
will remain an essential album in Houston rap history. We put it to Chamillionaire's fans over at his message board, and they responded with their opinions of the album. Here are a few of the [sic'd] excerpts:
"MTM1, ALLL good songs, all of them jam, especially for the streets. At the time chamillionaire had never released a mediocre verse. Clasic CCC songs. Some of the best diss songs ever in hip hop on it." -MVan "It was the highest selling mixtape ever in Texas, right? I think that mixtape had the biggest impact of any ever dropped and was the reason Cham got the great deal from Universal." -sportsgod24 "i loved his attitude an raw emotion...at that point he was sayin exactly how he felt...he attack the mic aggressively back then...now ehhhh not so much... by the way i thought it was about the top 25 "albums"...i loved mtm1 but since when is a mixtape an album." -MikeMike "It included three discs. Its second disc was chopped and screwed by the legend OG Ron C himself. It lyrically put Mike Jones to shame. I don't know what more I can say...Its a classic mixtape and I'm glad I own a copy of it." -TxTexasTx
References 16. Bushwick Bill, Little Big Man 17. South Park Mexican, Never Change 18. Swishahouse, The Day Hell Broke Loose 19. Chamillionaire and Paul Wall, Get Ya Mind Correct 20. Z-Ro, The Life of Joseph W. McVey 21. Ganksta NIP, South Park Psycho 22. Big Hawk, H.A.W.K. 23. K-Rino, Time Traveler 24. Pimp C, Pimpalation 25. Big Moe, City of Syrup Read the rules of The Countdown here.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.