Three Rappers To Watch In 2011

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A friend told us a joke the other day that made us chuckle, and we don't chuckle. We either laugh hard, or we don't, so you know it was special.

Our friend asked us, "What's the one thing your girlfriend could tell you that would make you happy and cry at the same time?"

"What? Tell me!"

"Honey, of all your friends, you're the best in bed," he said.

We began to laugh then retracted quickly; hence the chuckle, and then got suddenly serious.

Damn, that would inspire incredible pride, we thought. And then the ugly cry.

You know what the ugly cry is? The cry you get immediately after your father slaps your face with his heavy mechanic hand for looking at him stupid.

We wonder if Preemo, the out of nowhere Houston-based underground rap sensation who burst onto the scene in 2010, feels like he got slapped with the hip-hop version of that joke more than a year ago.

"Hey Preemo, What's the one thing we could tell you in 2010 that'll make you happy and cry at the same time?"

"What? Tell me!" he'd respond.

"Honey, of all the albums released in 2010, yours will kind of be recognized as one of the best nationally, but it won't get national attention. It'll be the most slept on."

That's probably an analogy fail because for a virtually unknown hip-hop artist, like Preemo was in early 2010, that kind of news would probably be comparable to the homeless man getting a job from the Cleveland Cavaliers, inspiring only tears of joy. No ugly cry here.

It would be a beautiful cry like the one you gave at the end of that chick flick The Notebook. We wouldn't know about that because we've never seen it.

Anyway, Preemo's Concrete Dreams, the musical masterpiece that finished No. 2 on Rocks Off's Top Houston Rap Albums of 2010 list - arguably as important a list as the Bowl Championship Standings - served as Preemo's career launching pad and second chance at life.

It's continuing to pay off in the New Year. Two reasons:

Reason No. 1

On Jan. 4, Jeff Weiss, a nationally respected and decorated music writer for the Los Angeles Times, Spin, L.A. Weekly, and a number of other respectable publications, reviewed Concrete Dreams as one of the best albums of 2010 that slipped under the radar. His very enjoyable write-up can be found on his blog, Passion of the Weiss, which Rocks Off highly recommends you visit.

In it, Weiss gives our own Shea Serrano a vicious hat-tip calling him "the illegitimate son of the former Cuban Cleveland Indians slugger and the most underrated rap journalist extant."

Talk about feeling pride and crying at the same time.

Reason No. 2

About.com's Henry Adaso, a hip-hop writer who's contributed to Allhiphop.com, SOHH.com, VIBE, ENVY and this very blog right here (as Rizoh), put together one of those lovely lists of artists to watch out for in 2011. You guessed it. Preemo made the list of 10 Hip-Hop Artists to Watch in 2011 at No. 9.

Other notable artists who made Rizoh Henry's list: Houston's The Niceguys and Mississippi-based Big K.R.I.T., both of whom finished higher than Preemo at No. 7 and No. 3, respectively.

Wonder who was on his 10 Hip-Hop Artists to Watch in 2010? Jay Electronica and Jay-Cole.

If that's any indication, we'll be crying tears of joy, like at the end of that flick What Dreams May Come. We've never seen that either.

Email Rolando Rodriguez at rolandorodriguezjr22@gmail.com.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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