Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Damien Randle describes himself as a "songwriter, producer, rapper, director, comic-book snob [and] owner of seven dogs." Born and raised on Houston's south side, he attended the illustrious Lamar High School. Randle has been making music since the early '90s, primarily as a member of the hip-hop group K-OTIX, aka The Legendary K-OTIX.
Since that time, he has also kept his fingers in the projects of a number of local artists, including H.I.S.D., Radio Galaxy and D Rose/Kashmere Don. Damien also recently co-launched Rappers I Know Records, an offshoot of the wildly popular RappersIKnow.com, which seeks to provide a distribution platform for a number of the artists with whom he works closely.
Home Base: Randle sums up his territory as follows:
Everything begins in Sunnyside, Houston, TX. Most of the pre-work is done at home, but I usually travel where the work takes me to get the job done. I'm very comfortable at home, but there's something dynamic about collaborating in an environment of like-minded creatives.
As a member of K-OTIX, we performed exclusively in Houston for years to hone our craft (and waiting for a break). As time went on, the majority of our performances took place out of town, including Europe and Japan.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Randle has two major pet peeves:
1. Younger artists who are convinced that what they're doing is completely original and groundbreaking without having demonstrated it. He's all in favor of confidence, but sees too many coming out of the gates with a skewed sense of self-importance. Randle challenges them to study the history of music in this city, thinking they'll be surprised to see that, for example, "underground" hip-hop in the early to mid-'90s was alive and well, and groups were able to tour internationally without the aid of major labels.
2. The pervasive sense of divisiveness in the hip-hop community and the labeling of "this vs. that" brand of rap. It breeds discontent. Good music is good music. Celebrate it in whatever form it presents itself to you.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I'm still here because, simply, my work isn't done" states Randle. "I have my hands in quite a few projects that will see the light of day throughout 2014. After that, i'm looking to become bi-coastal by planting one foot over on the West Coast.
"I think Houston is a highly underrated place to live," he adds. "The cost of living and its centrality is great, but people grossly underestimate Houston's influence and historical impact on music."
Story continues on the next page.
Good War Story:
There's only a handful that I can tell without incriminating somebody, but one story that comes to mind is the time in 2003 that we traveled to Prague for a one-off show. I was working a day job at the time, and couldn't take any days off. We flew out late Friday, performed Saturday, and flew back Sunday. All within about 48 hours. That Monday when everyone at the workplace was sharing what they'd done for the weekend, I obviously had the best story.
FIVE RECORDS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
- A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
- Marvin Gaye, Here, My Dear
- Portishead, Dummy
- Michael Jackson, Off the Wall
- "...and a mixtape of about 20-plus songs kinda crammed together."
Best Show(s) Ever:
Attended: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Souls of Mischief -- December 5, 1993 at Rockefeller's West (now Stereo Live): "Seeing my favorite three groups for the first time, at the same time, and getting to meet them all."
Performed: Hip Hop Kemp in Prague -- "Headlining the festival, performing in front of 11,000 people, and performing the entire last song on top of the crowd."
K-OTIX is about to release their first collective studio album in years, entitled Legendary. Then they're planning to hit the road this summer and take advantage of the Euro's current superiority over the U.S. dollar, as well as prepping a pretty ambitious video/music project that should open a lot of eyes.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200 and a link to the Rocks Off 100 on the next page.
THE ROCKS OFF 200
Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Slim Thug Takes That #BossLife to His People Bun B & the Houston Symphony's "Concert Against Hate" at Jones Hall Brrr! The 10 Skimpiest Costumes at Something Wicked R.I.P. Elroy Boogie: Popular Kracker Nuttz DJ Passes Away at 27