We are 75 percent of the way through with 2011, and somehow it is still unclear: a) Which underground rapper is having the best year; b) Which is the best underground rap song of the year; c) Which underground rapper has had the best verse of the year; d) Which underground rapper will land atop the essential Houston Press 10 Best Houston Rap Albums of the Year list, and; e) Which underground rapper has established himself as the clear-cut best of the new generation.
It's pretty perplexing. And pretty inspiring. A big proper story on all of this coming soon.
In the meantime, since we're 75 percent of the way through with 2011, it is time for the third issue of the Houston Press Underground Rap Awards. This is the final go 'round before December's year-end festivus of listicles and virgin sacrifices (or whatevs). The two previous installments ran in March and June - Ed.
Fifteen awards this time. There were originally more than 23 awards, but the column ended up stretching out towards 3,000-plus words. We spent two hours cutting out really excellent awards like "Best Song That Might Be About A Fish" and "Stage Show That Makes You Want To Stick A Nail In Your Eyeball."
Those'll come later, probably. At any rate, off we go...
The "Best Tape of the Year (Thus Far)" Award
Delo's Hood Politics Vol. 2 has been an absolute headache for every rapper not named Delo since he released it during the first quarter of the year. It's just been too overpowering and well-done for anyone to deal with. And really, it started to seriously look like it might fall that way through December.
But then Killa Kyleon decided he'd make Candy Paint N Texas Plates 2, the best project he's ever done, and blammo, carpet out from under the feet and whatnot. Killa is king. And since we're here...
The "Guys, Come Now, That's Not Fair" Award
Killa Kyleon + Bun B + Lex Luger = FYL
The "You Can't Watch This Video With The Lights Off" Award
Trae's "Strapped Up," featuring Pyrexx. Why? Um, did you watch it? That shit is terrifying.
Incidentally, Trae just recently announced that he's building a children's shelter. Think that's reason enough to believe his hands aren't made of stone and steel? The only difference between four years ago and today is if you got beat up by him in 2007, you were just a dude that was beaten up, but if you get beaten up by him today, you'd just be a dude that got beat up by a guy that's opening a children's shelter.
The "If You're Paying Attention, This Song Is So Much Fun" Award
Lots of sirs have rapped about Houston this year, but nobody has done so as creatively and enjoyably as the mostly invisible D-Risha did on "Ebonics," a four-minute soliloquy that explains what every bit of Houston slang ever has meant. Did you know that "unit" is another way to say "outfit"? Do you know what it means to "bar plex" or have something "sowed" or what it means to look "hulled out"?
The "This Is Easily The Best Hashtag Signoff On Twitter" Award
EZ ACCESS is a videographer/photographer/stocking-cap enthusiast*. He's been filming shit at every rap show since 1993 (it seems).
More importantly though, he created a Twitter hashtag that is just about awesome. It's #WRECKEDDATHOE, and it basically means to have done a really good job at something. More often than not, it's meant to reference something rap-related. (For example, if you hear a song that someone delivered a particularly impressive verse on a song, you say he or she #WRECKEDDATHOE.) But it's especially fun to use (or imagine) in non-rap situations. To wit:
Religious Skeptic: You say "God" created the Earth and the heavens, but how? How does someone create the skies.
Preacher: Well, my son, it's simple: He basically just wrecked dat hoe.
Religious Skeptic: Oh. Okay, now I get it.
*True story: Last basketball season, we took our sons to one of those Guys Night Out things that the Rockets do every so often. We had them in the little play area up near the cheap seats. EZ ACCESS happened to be there with some of his people. We went and shook hands. The first thing our sons said to him: "What's that on your head?" His response: "Oh, it's my hat. I wear it all the time." Because it's his hat. And he wears it all the time.
Since we're here...
The "#WRECKEDDATHOE" Award, courtesy of EZ ACCESS via email
Underground artists who #WRECKDATHOE:
1. Snow tha Product 2. Doughbeezy 3. Pyrexx 4. Kritikal 5. Baby Ace 6. Hoodstar Chantz
Winner: Pyrexx of ABN
Because his image is what mainstream rap is into right now; ever since Eminem's come back, Mac Miller, Yelawolf, Machine Gun Kelly and other "white rappers" are all getting put on. His stage presence kills the crowd every time, even if it's their first time ever seeing him. He's lyrical, delivery on point, punch lines straight, very marketable in what this music industry is looking for right now. He officially #WRECKEDDATHOE.
Note: Pyrexx and EZ are both members of ABN.
The "Come On, Come On, Come On, Just Release This Already" Award
The last two go-rounds of the Houston Press Underground Rap Awards, Propain's name was the first response to the "If you could pick any forthcoming album to hear right at this very moment, whose would it be" conversation. But Le$, the most postmodern-y of all the Boss Hoggz, has used a litany of invigorating showings to swipe it away.
He's begun to fully buff his gangster/contemporary Southern artist persona into a proper sheen these last few months. His tape, releasing within the next month or two we hear, promises to be good.
The "Fuck You For Not Paying Attention To This Song" Award
Somehow, hasHBrown's wonderful "Forgive Me Not" has gone completely underappreciated in 2011, despite being a genuine contender for Rap Song of the Year.
The "Most Perplexing, Most Amazing Line To Tangentially Tie A Sex Allusion To A Robin Williams Movie" Award
Kirko Bangz is likely going to be very rich one day. He is young and handsome and talented and blah, blah, blah. And on his blindingly intoxicating "Drank In My Cup," he lets loose what has to be the most perplexing, most amazing line to tangentially tie a sex allusion to a Robin Williams movie in the history of all music.
In the second verse, in the middle of a rapid fire staccato, he spouts: "I'm EZ Tag like Peter Pan." Nobody knows what it means. When we asked him about it specifically on Twitter, his response was three words: "Shadow tag mayne." No idea.
The "Did That Really Just Happen?" Award
Slim Thug is (probably) a millionaire. At the very least, he has a very nice house and several very nice cars. Yet still, somehow, with that Cadillac salesman's charm, he convinced a whole bunch of people on Twitter to give him money for his birthday. There's no telling how much money he received (rumored to be over four figures over the course of a day or two), but it doesn't matter.
The point: A guy with a lot of money convinced people with less money to give it to him. Slim Thug will never ever starve to death. We believe he donated that money to wildfire relief efforts - Ed.
The "I'd Pay $10 For That Shirt" Award
UZOY's "UZOY (Like The Gun)" T-shirt
The "This Is Best Song About Throwing One's Butt in A General Direction" Award
Sherro's southdallasswaggian "Throw It Bacc." You will not see a stocky man move with any more vigor than Sherro does when he performs this song. He's like a dancing hurricane.
The "Middle Linebacker of Houston Rap" Award
Recently, we wrote about how we were referring to some of our middle school football team's plays as rappers. After that post went up, we received an email asking us to compile a football team using only Houston rappers. We're working on that now. It's harder than you'd think. Lots of guys can sorta-play positions, but there aren't a lot that can handle all of the responsibilities of each.
One guy that can though: Mug of the Stomp Down Soldiers/Boss Hogg Outlawz would be an absolutely devastating middle linebacker. He's physical and moves with a purpose and is smart and will never shy away from contact. The only way you're running through his part of the field is if you're driving a truck, and even then if it's anything less than an F-150 it's still even money he stops you.
The "When He Becomes Famous, This Will Be The Moment Every Music Critic Points To And Says, "See, You Should've Known Right Here This Guy Was Not Fucking Around'" Award
Propain (the villain) seems ready-made for stardom. He possesses all of the necessary characteristics. He's a talented rapper, has an immediately recognizable voice (that pinch-mouthed slosh that gets extra-animated when he's extra-furious), seems to genuinely appreciate music*, understands how to measure his career paces, and he owns one of those nouveau letterman jackets.
And when he gets there, when he genuinely "makes it," every music critic that digs up his verse from Delo's "I'm On," one of the most inspired rap verses in Houston this year, will say, "See, you should've known right here this guy was not fucking around."
*Several weeks ago, Red Bull hosted an EmSee Freestyle Battle. Propain was there watching. At the end of it, DJ Alchemist spun a very hip-hoppy set (he's pretty good at that, y'know). The crowd thinned out, but there was Propain, standing all alone, staring at Alchemist, bobbing his head, vibing out without refrain. It's hard to fake that sort of thing.
The "Best Use of a Shai Sample On An Album" Award
Every shitty situation you can think of is immediately made into a party when Mr. Wired Up (Oh Boy) is played loudly. True story: We were driving to work two days ago and got into a serious crash. We hit a school bus that was driving a bunch of infants to infant camp. The bus flipped, caught on fire, then exploded. Flaming babies were falling from the sky. All of the parents of all of the flaming babies showed up.
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They were mortified. Tears, tears, screaming, tears. Then everyone stopped. Someone asked, "Wait, is that Mr. Wired Up (Oh Boy) playing in car?" We said, "Yes, that's his new album, the one with that one song with the Shai sample." Then everyone started dancing. Even the flaming babies.
As always, thank you for your continued support. The extra bits and pieces will be available soon.