Undergravity's Feel-Good Summer Hit & Other DIY Rap News

3-2-1 for the week in Houston rap:

#SouthsideSummertime It seems fair to say that, considering the video now, Undergravity's "Southside Summertime" is the best Houston summer song since Mike Jones' "Still Tippin'" in 2004.

It is an absolutely overachieving accomplishment by the duo and guest Dante Higgins. It has the smooth, relatable charm of Will Smith's "Summertime" and the wonky, "This Is Houston Without Being Cliched About It" aura of Fat Pat's "Top's Drop."

You could say a hundred different things about it, list every single thing they did right, but they all spiral back to the same point: "Southside Summertime" makes you feel the summer. It seeps into your brain stem, sways your shoulders and wags your head. It is equally mammoth and small, broad and specific.

Three incidental notes from the video/song:

1. It was directed by Fetti, the sir behind the Rise DVD series. He's directed videos before, but this one is the best he's ever made. It's not perfect, but that somehow makes it better.

2. There's this thing that actors always do on TV shows or movies when they're trying to really make something seem dramatic and weighty. Someone will ask them something vague or general, then they'll stare forward for a second, say the answer to the question, pause, take a breath, add an indirect noun in there, then repeat the answer. Here, we'll set a scene for you:

John walks into a crowded room. He approaches Adam, who is sitting alone off to the side. Adam is holding a brownish drink in a glass. He looks occupied but not to the point of being worried.

John: Hey, bub. Haven't seen you in a bit. What have you been up to?

Adam: Just living, bro. [breath] Just living [sips drink].


See how that works. It makes whatever it is they're saying, regardless of how inconsequential, seem rife with symbolism and nuance.

That said:

Dante Higgins, bro. Dante Higgins.

3. There's are two quick basketball scenes here, one that lasts from 1:49 mark of the video to the 1:50 mark, and one that lasts from the 1:52 mark to the 1:54 mark. Watch them both. Pause them and examine them. The young man in the black and blue shorts plays absolutely terribly defense in both. Poor guy. What a way to make your music video debut; by playing defense like 2011 Peja Stojakovic.

#R&B Last night, we went out to Midtown Lounge, referred to regularly as "The Hip-Hop Attic," but maybe more regularly referred to as Apparently The Only Place In The City That Doesn't Have Goddamned Central Air And Heating, to see an R&B showcase put on by the same sir that created the Best Rapper In Texas competition. Two things from the show:

1. It's hard to have a good R&B show if the venue isn't absolutely perfect. A good rap show or rock show can happen just about anywhere, because the energy almost always has to first come from the performer anyway. But with R&B, it's always so subtle and contextual that the conditions have to be right, and if they're not, it can be a bit pulverizing for the participants. That's why there are so few R&B showcases in town, despite the fact that there are several really talented performers in town.

2. The show's brightest point came, curiously, from a gentleman in a Cookie Monster shirt. His name was Bobby Garza and he's from Corpus. He was tallish and muscularish and generally handsome and played an acoustic guitar and sang with a disparate verve. We approached him after the show - surely he has a ton of Youtube videos, was the thinking in our party - to see where we could find him online afterwards.

His response: "Oh, I really don't have anything up yet." Nutsos. When he said that, we made the same face we would've made had he said that he rode to show on a dragon. We took his phone number (he did have a cell phone, so there's that) and he said he'd send word when he was fully functional.

Fuckin' Corpus, man. Land of the lost.

#R-E-N-Z-OOOOO One final request: Please watch this video. And please let it be the only form of drinking and driving you experience this 4th of July weekend.

Thank you for your continued support. Have a safe weekend. Stay away from bears. Except koala bears. They look pretty harmless.

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

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