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The H-Town Countdown, No. 22: Big Hawk's H.A.W.K.

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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. For all of the talent and charm and natural charisma that Hawk brought to Houston's rap scene - his fingerprints are all across it, most notably for co-founding the legendary Screwed Up Click - the most impressive aspect of his legacy is uncommonly simple yet profoundly unique: nobody disliked him. Nobody. That's not a matter of opinion. There are no qualifiers to add on there. It is just a fact. Let that sink in for a bit. We can't even go to Target without pissing someone off, yet in a line of work that seems to pride itself on being cutthroat, H-A-dub managed to float through it leaving behind a wake of people who were only better for having known him. That's insane, yo. That's why when he was gunned down in 2006 it was such a total gut punch. He had worked so hard to keep the SUC name prominent after Screw's passing that everyone just assumed he had garnered too much goodwill for anything to ever happen to him (like how Bun did when Pimp went away). Nobody saw it coming. Really, nobody even believed it when the news began circulating. Everybody had that same, "yeah right, quit playing" thing going on. But it did. And everyone immediately realized we were all the worse for it. Now, as far as this particular album goes, it is easily the best of his works. His flow is big and ballooney and as welcoming as it ever was in his career. He tagged features from Ro, Big Pokey, Trae and a whole host of others. Most remarkably though, is that it manages the tricky, tricky feat of being a Houston rap album without sounding like only a Houston rap album. Highlights include soulful sing-song jam "Diggin Da South" (when have you ever heard someone say "Bounce, drop, roller skate" without sounding completely moronic) and the iconic "I'm singing about cheating on my girl and that should make seem morally reprehensible but I'm so cool it just makes me seem even cooler" track "You Already Know." Listening to him again as we type this, we're completely okay with receiving a ton of emails about how this should've been higher up on the list. References No. 23: K-Rino, Time Traveler No. 24: Pimp C, Pimpalation No. 25: Big Moe, City of Syrup Read the rules of The Countdown here.

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