We're at the midpoint of the year of our Houston Rap Lord two thousand-fourteen. In that short span, we've seen BeatKing topple buildings and get Nicki Minaj's attention, Doughbeezy's slow fury wreak havoc all over the country, two radio stations viciously vie for listeners, DeLorean arming himself for radio play, Propain basking in the victory that Ridin' Slab secured him nearly a year ago. His understudy Doeman, meanwhile, became one of Houston's fastest-rising Latino rappers; same for Dat Boi T and Young G, not to mention GT Garza. The Houston Press Music Awards got more rap love than ever, it seems, and...OneHunnidt's tape is still not out yet. Bummer.
A full review of the past half-year in Houston rap is forthcoming; the city's crowning achievement, though, is simply not combusting during Drake's extended stay. But before that, we must dig into an absolute metric ton of new music and videos by Houston artists. May as well do this alphabetically and go on down.
DeLorean feat. Mitchelle'l: "Picture Me Swangin'" If you ever wanted a butter-smooth track about Houston car culture and looking dead in the eye of haters who could barely crack a steering column -- much less push something powerful like a clean-ass Caddy -- this is it. Cory Mo digs into the Pimp C School of Making Everything Sound Like Superhero Music for DeLorean's official radio debut, featuring Mitchelle'l of Grand Hustle. That's right, we've got an extension of Pimp, an extension of T.I. and DeLorean, himself an extension of every good aspect of being a bridge to both slices of Houston rap. A win-win.
Doeman feat. Propain, "Jodeci" During the peak glow of SXSW, Doeman, the stocky yet lean-eyed Latin spitter formerly of Chavez High School, released his DYNA EP. Rather short and to the point, it allowed people to understand that when he solely seeks to rap his ass off, he's not one to fuck around.
"Jodeci" was his one tried and true "lifestyle" track, a term I'm applying to any rap song that has no direction other than to impose the idea that for whatever reason, said rapper is just cooler than you. The video makes Doeman and, by proxy, Propain and even Doughbeezy look like stars of the party.
Easy Yves Saint, "Juice" When it was just a spastic standalone single, Yves' "Juice" had a hard enough edge to determine its own place and figure. The visuals, shot by longtime directors OG Danny Ocean and Hai Salem, offers something much more darker and anxious. There's a gritty hunger added to the Sincerely Yves track, almost as a snarl for everybody who snubbed him from a HPMA nomination.
Frank Loot, "No Pressure" Black and white visuals seem to be the best for serious introductions. Take Frank Loot, for example, built from the Maxo Kream class of gruffed-out menace with panache for trying to rip people's heads off on wax. "No Pressure" builds off the idea of a lycanthrope, a metamorphosis from relaxed and stable to unhinged and focused on a singular goal. Loot represents that and then some here, which when you're dressed in all black doesn't leave much to the imagination.
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Hoodstar Chantz; Bart Pimpson 2 Here's something you can legit be mad at. Hoodstar Chantz, who at one point was our crown jewel of shit-talking and being skinny enough to wiggle through any verse unscathed, is now a temporary resident of Los Angeles. Robert Horry taught him. Okay, maybe not.
But during the hubbub of June 27, he released this mixtape with DJ Screw researcher and noted Houston upstart DJ Auditory. It's a literal screw tape; by literal I mean just that, a screw tape that bends but doesn't break, muddles its transitions but employs far more charisma and pomp than you'd ever believe. Chantz's voice gets distorted heavily here, almost animated in some spaces, but he can at least give Young Thug's "Danny Glover" a decent amount of pump to keep it relevant. Tony DelFreshco, Trilly, Goony Spiff and Trae Tha Truth are among the notable guests. Download Here
Le$ feat. Curren$y, "Come Up" Want to know someone who had a career revelation thanks to some mood music? Le$. You might argue that Freddie Joachim is capable of making the type of music that places you in a stasis, but it's fact. Le$ raps hold you in a similar stance, trying your best to either feel like a superhero cruising through the streets or just too cool to care about outside shit. Le$ and Curren$y were made for one another, and on their fourth collaboration in as many months, "Come Up" makes perfect sense as to why.
Marc Haize, "Himalaya" II-XX is a group that is currently on minor hiatus. By hiatus of course that means everyone is still together, they're just making solo tracks and efforts to showcase their individual talents. Haize is the player of the group, a smooth-talking ladies man who dips more into Kaytranada than your tried-and-true screw rhetoric. "Himalaya" digs into Southside Playaz's "What's Going On" for another club number where the party revolves around him.
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Mike Red, Still Holdin V Last year, Mike Red gave us a gift: a tried-and-true, old-school Houston rap tape called Smoke & Soul, for which he wasn't given as much proper recognition as he should have been. Thus he kicks us in the teeth with Still Holdin' V, using almost all of the same tactics of incorporating smoked-out bass and pianos with even more polish lyrically. OneHunnidt, Rai P and EDF show up for the mostly Red affair. No, that's not a gang joke, either. It's more a smoke-to-this-and-ride-out joke. Download Here
Roosh Williams, "Dream Shook" A Roosh Williams video about Hakeem Olajuwon: it's the Sistine Chapel of Houston Rockets-related rap videos.
Stunna Bam, "Impressive" If you wanted to know who owns that "Buy What I Want" track that has infiltrated club space for the better part of the year, that's Stunna Bam. He's also set to appear at the #979TheConcert event later this month. Direct and self-serving to whoever may share similar ideas, "Impressive" doesn't stray too far from Stunna's wheelhouse: either you're going to break his concentration or you aren't.
Z-Ro, "Walking Hard" For a solid 61 days, there was no clear winner in the Houston rap song of the summer chase. BeatKing and Doughbeezy were basically battling one another for a solid minute with "Keisha" and "She's On Top/I'm From Texas," respectively. Then that Undertaker-like figure that is Z-Ro decided to jump up wih a loosie that sounds so West yet so Houston it's hard to pass it up.
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