Propain at Warehouse Live in November 2013
Propain at Warehouse Live in November 2013
Photo by Marco Torres

The Return of Propain & Other #NewHoustonRap

The fun thing about Houston rap is that sometimes it escapes out of the city and other people get to talk about it the same way you and I do. They get to lob up superlatives and break things down like a coach would break down film. Damn Tropical Storm Bill, we must enjoy the good times and with that, we have to enjoy the songs that have come out this week that will sit around for a little while until they get overlapped by bigger and better songs.

Chedda Da Connect feat. Fetty Wap, Boosie Badazz, Yo Gotti & Boston George, “Flicka Da Wrist (Remix)”
There have been multiple teases to Chedda Da Connect’s “Flicka Da Wrist” remix. Rick Ross hopped on one version, and French Montana dropped his version of street-addled nursery rhymes on another. Chedda appreciated and liked those, but knew they weren’t the official one. This one, bloated as hell with enough features to mirror those massive early-‘00s remixes that could go nearly eight minutes (this clocks in around six). Fred On Em’s beat doesn’t change one bit but Chedda offers a brand-new verse; same goes for Boston George, who featured on the club version of the original. Fetty Wap arrives and sort of lounges around for a bit, as does Yo Gotti to close things up. The real winner here? Boosie, who has managed to make even a new Tyga song listenable due to his penchant for hyperactive sex rhymes over Too $hort-style Oakland bass.

Migos feat. Sauce Twinz & Sosamann, “Follow My Dripping”
There’s a world we live in, where Atlanta's Migos are possibly better than the Beatles and live in your head with every melody, adlib and hyperactive punchline. It’s sort the same orbit that the Sauce Factory occupy, which make them perfect bedfellows. Houston’s most blob-like rap family organism has two new tapes in rotation, the Twinz and Sosamann’s Sauce Theft Auto and Rodji Diego’s Rodzilla project, both of which dropped in early June. “Follow My Dripping,” the return favor from “On Top” in which complete chaos reigned between all five parties, is much of the same. The Migos (Quavo & Takeoff) essentially adopt Sauce-a-nese, Sauce Walka shouting out his white girl who has “blue eyes like a crip." Meanwhile, Sancho Saucy and Sosamann exist to drop no more than four bars apiece, almost ceding everything to Quavo, Takeoff and Walka.

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The Outfit, TX – “Big Daddy”
Haddaway once asked, “What is love?” He also begged not to be hurt anymore because of how much loved sucked. The Outfit, TX, 2014 Houston Press Music Award winners for Best Rap Group, already own the best straight-up crew-rap video by brandishing a confederate flag right next to Maxo Kream for “U." They also have been in the fucked-up friend-zone position, the “brother” position. The homie-lover-friend position. All of those labels don’t necessarily mean boyfriend. So, the Dallas-raised, Houston-educated trio bubble around a load of sexed-up synths from OutKast’s “Funky Ride” on “Big Daddy,” the latest in a triplet of 2015 releases (“Wild Turkey,” “U”). Jay Hawk may enjoy creeping around but he’s not a fool, especially when there’s more batshit-crazy babydaddies around than anything else. Let them tell it, The Outfit, TX would rather enjoy a conversation about Bill Maher and a little sex afterwards than discussing what’s on your Twitter timeline. That makes for the best possible “do your thing and then let me do mine” kind of “love song” there is.

Propain, “Where Its At”
Show of hands if you knew G Luck and B Don would sample a Halle Berry movie for a Propain track. You can’t, can you? No one could have predicted that Propain, he who owned the best mixtape of 2013 with Ridin’ Slab, would be asking more questions and curious about the answers on the first release from his Against All Odds tape. “Where Its At” runs similar to “Ain’t Mad” from OneHunnidt’s Field Sobriety tape. The two differ in that Hunnidt knows why certain people do the shit they do and Pro just wonders why put up a front? Why act like Rachel Dolezal when you don’t really have to?

Outside of Doughbeezy’s Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid 2, the next Propain tape is the most sought-after in the city. Nobody treats their projects like anticipated moments of exhale than Pro. It’s why he’s far more tedious in the recording process than some of his peers, and would rather serve up something proper as opposed to letting loosie by loosie go. “Where Its At” asks all the right questions and pokes plenty of chests. Then again, anytime Pro decides to rip straight through his Hiram Clarke drawl and plant himself as a verbal king of the city, there’s few questions to be asked.

Trae Tha Truth feat. Rick Ross, “I Don’t Give a Fuck”
Four years ago, while he was rapping in virtual terrestrial purgatory, Trae Tha Truth teamed with Rick Ross and Lil Wayne for “Inkredible." Four years later, a lot of things have worked in a weird inverse. Then, Trae Tha Truth was the grizzled rap veteran doing his damndest to circumnavigate the bullshit thrown on him via one interview and one banning from Radio One. Now, he’s a grizzled Houston rap vet who is on a major and seems more interested in stretching his hardened street character even further. Meanwhile, his co-star here is coasting. No, literally. Rick Ross can show up and rap about sleeping with a chick badder than the one we’re sleeping with and for all intents and purposes, it's true. Anytime you can get Lira Galore, you pretty much won.  “I Don’t Give a Fuck” is enjoyable solely because it’s Trae back in his element. That low-decibel, bassline-heavy moment where Tha Truth can simply be him. He could double-time it. He could stretch it far into a mumbly sing-song affair. Either way, Trae Tha Truth doesn’t give a fuck and we’re better off for it.

Zavey feat. Vic D & OneHunnidt, “Either Way It Go”
What do you do with Zavey, one of the few Houston rappers who can smoke and rap about actual life better than maybe three other people? He’s stuck in a crowded atmosphere that hasn’t really enjoyed a lyricist of a high caliber on a consistent basis since Chamillionaire before he rode gimmicks to Grammy success. It’s a finicky position to stay in and “Either Way It Go,” a three man weave between Zavey, Vic D & OneHunnidt only makes that position even harder. The Prodeuser goes for simple for a change, no massive sample flip, no goofy boardwork that turns into something that takes away from the track itself. Instead you’ve got three men, three fathers and three rap individuals who preach self-awareness and love trying to work the ins and outs of their daily lives. The Upper Room from Zavey should be a signifier that even flat out rappers such as he can have a chance beyond the club heavy shit talk that populates and permeates through Houston rap.

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