The H-Town Countdown, No. 20: Z-Ro's The Life of Joseph W. McVey

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

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 sheaserrano@gmail.com.

Z-RoThe Life of Joseph W. McVey

(Rap-A-Lot/Asylum, 2004)

At any rate, in addition to being the best album title Z-Ro ever produced, The Life of Joseph W. McVey was important for one big, big reason: it represented the budding of the artist that Z-Ro eventually became. Z-Ro was apparently born with that six-foot-deep voice of his, so the seven albums that came before Life... were fun to listen to, but they mostly consisted of rehashed content that everyone had seen a bunch before. For the most part, this would be his, as well as everyone else's, Tupac-tinged period.



, which was his first album distributed by Rap-A-Lot, (which also adds a bit of cachet), felt like a concerted effort on his part to offer up a genuine peek inside how he operated as a man. "Z-Ro," "King of the Ghetto," "Everyday," "Thatz Who I Am," "I Hate U Bitch" and "Happy Feelingz" were all largely autobiographical; not coincidentally, there were also the six best songs on the album. Ro had offered glimpses into his psyche before ("Lord Tell Me Why" from Look What You Did To Me, for example), but this album saw him fully embrace (and empower) that woe is me mentality for the first time. It ended up being the painfully real (yet still mostly raw) representation of himself that a lot of people thought he was incapable of producing. He had pretty much perfected the solo-dolo heartbroken thug act by the time Let The Truth Be Told rolled around (his next official release, which will always be his best album), but there's no way that one ever gets made without this one.


was a watershed moment in the career of one the most important emcee's in Houston's history. Don't sleep. Learn the words to first verse of "King of the Ghetto" and then sing the shit out of them in your car. Then you'll know exactly what we're talking about.


No. 21: Ganksta NIP's South Park Psycho No. 22: Big HAWK's H.A.W.K. No. 23: K-Rino's Time Traveler No. 24: Pimp C's Pimpalation No. 25: Big Moe's 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.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.