Tag Archives: Houston hip hop

Song of The Year-I’ll Be Fine by Trae The Truth

Song of The Year-I’ll Be Fine by Trae The Truth

by Dan-O

More than any project before his new album Hometown Hero represents the uniqueness of Trae The Truth. His voice has always been raspy, stabbing, and relentless a fantastic guest feature flow to shake you from your comfort zone. Hometown Hero dresses itself to match. Thematically as honest as its narrator with features from people known for how real they keep it (TI, Boosie, Mozzy). Each song envelopes you in bass as he narrates harrowing stories that range from the stress of wearing awful clothes to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. It is one of 2018’s best albums.

As great as the features are (particularly TI’s hook on Better Dayz) the song I’ll Be Fine is the absolute best. The hook stretches and relaxes as he explains the hurt and the strength/assurance he will use to move on. Trae wants to feel the pain of loss and not shut the emotions out but badly wants to control the pain. The verses carry that same conflict. He remembers the casket going into the ground in the first verse and wishes he could hug him one more time. As hard as Hometown Hero is it is still about caring deeply; for friends, family, about people who betray you, your own self-care, your city, state, world.

He swims along the deep bass and leaves any possibility of trunk rattling banger behind as he starts off with the verse, sung with both wistful distance and aged resilience. In Houston trunk rattling bass isn’t just for head banging anthems or turning up.  Trae has always understood how valuable time is and he doesn’t waste verses. Hometown Hero is for us to understand that he has people he is talking to and if it seems too serious to you just listen to something else. When he shares stuff like  “Time ain’t enough. Wish I could tell you how much it been rough. I had to face it. Everything through it was making me tough. My brother my friend everything bout me is still ABN loyal to death all till the day I’ma see you again.” It’s special because he has the fortitude to bleed in public emotionally without being at all manipulative. He’s not professionally sad instead he processes problems alongside blessings. Long live King Truth.

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Album recommendation of the week-Lorraine Motel by Killa Kyleon

Album recommendation of the week-Lorraine Motel by Killa Kyleon

by Dan-O

Socially conscious rap music is filled with misinformation. First point-you don’t have to be a social scientist/genius to construct a meaningful album with a socially conscious message. Do not listen to anyone’s album for the answers on life; this is their art and perspective that is what is important. Second point-the songs don’t have to carry a single tone, they don’t have to be whispery emotional pleas over piano plinks or hard charging Public Enemy style anthems for resistance. This is an artist’s world and it can be constructed however they want it and if the rules they set up hold it works.

My favorite recent socially conscious album is Lorraine Motel by Killa Kyleon. The Lorraine Motel is where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated and he lined up the release to hit on the anniversary of that loss. He is a Houston rap warrior with songs in his discography featuring Bun B, Pimp C, and Lil Keke. Kyleon raps like an old traveling swordsman or gunfighter, the art of spitting is so easy at this point he is dead focused on his message. This time around he seems to have gotten much better with hooks that dig in while representing his point.  

The song titles feel like messages you’ve heard before(the last song Freedom Ain’t Free is Joey Bada$$ lead single off his new album All-American Bada$$) but they’re not.  Strong Black Woman isn’t a whispery cute song meant to get him in the good graces of female fans. It is filled with hard slapping lyrics about the determination of the women he is dedicating the song too. First words spoken are “One more semester left she ain’t gotta trip.” The problem with dedications to women in rap is that a lot of times men construct these to be so general it boils down to a pat on the back for being sexy. Killa gives the women in his verses the determination he has to win (his mother especially) “You knew not to question God so you forgot to ask him, for help through hard times and struggle cause you knew you passed it. That’s what ambition get ya.”  Anyone who gets mad about hip hop being pro street violence anti-police violence needs to hear Lorraine Motel. My Skin is My Sin is my favorite song; it boils and bubbles with frustration about police brutality, Colin Kaepernick, the positives and negatives of President Obama, and the depression street violence creates in the psyche.

The music is tonal and moody but still very much the Houston rap that Drake (among many) borrowed from, it rattles and bangs in chunky measures. I haven’t been able to find a good production listing but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was familiar names from his previous projects. Lorraine Motel rings with the pure white hot anger of really caring about the situation. On Change Gone Come the last verse gets so far into police brutality that it left me haunted by the line “Dead to the wrong, them crackers still right. They playin’ God the way they steal life.” The second half of Lorraine Motel is a flummoxing experience, eight songs that just make you sit with the problems we have as a nation and FEEL them deeply enough to hurt again. That is what a great socially conscious rap album does, it connects you to the problem so you care when it is so much easier nowadays not to care about anything.

You can find Lorraine Motel on Spotify, Amazon music, and all the other streaming services.

Six Degrees of Drake

Six Degrees of Drake

by Dan-O

The widespread success of Drake has caused the spread of a new sound. Does anyone remember when Ghostface Killah started doing sing heavy hooks and it was controversial? People were mad and questioning how hardcore his music was…now being able to sing or fake sing the chorus (sometimes several on one song) is mandatory. Thank Drizzy (and Kid Cudi) for that. The spread of this new sound has created a lane for like minded artists and some of them have put out some pretty great B-movie level mixtapes.

Gerald Walker-Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

I will be honest I used to listen to Gerald Walker and just laugh. He sounded just like Drake and stayed sing rapping about how dumb people were for thinking he sounded like Drake, over Drake beats. I downloaded every tape and actually looked forward to new projects just to be able to chuckle over the situation.

While I was chuckling Gerald Walker was making leaps and bounds. It doesn’t hurt that he can get a Cardo beat any time he wants (5 out of 11 on this project) or that he can switch into singing quite naturally. This is the most refined project in the history of Gerald Walker. He now has a cool detached bop to his flow that really suits him and the years in the game to justifiably teaching lessons on perseverance and patience on the hypnotically soulful Cant Have It All At Once “you don’t realize your worth nobody gotta give you sh__ if you want it go out and work. See I know N’s who got deals who was blessed to take the wheel and drive to they own success but they didn’t…shout out to Pill.”

All the funny things I looked for: the off-putting confessions, baffling missteps, and direct Drake lifts are gone. In place is a mixtape that glistens with professional polish from the balanced new school groove production feel to the perfect vocal mixing. I’ve listened to the song Nerves a thousand times and hummed it to myself in the supermarket. I used to suck my teeth when I saw Gerald Walker featuring on a track, shake my head when he sung his own name like it was the two most beautiful words he could think of. Now I’m singing along, so he wins.

Download or stream Yesterday You Said Tomorrow below:
http://www.djbooth.net/index/albums/review/gerald-walker-yesterday-you-said-tomorrow

Kirko Bangz-Progression IV

Kirko Bangz is NOT someone ripping off Drake. If he raps over every Drake beat for the rest of his career that’s something Drizzy OWES HIM. Kirko is actually from Houston. Remember Houston? That place Drake lifted his sound from.

Kirko turns the autotune most of the way up and belts out some straight up somebody-rockin-knockin-the-boots type music. They Don’t Know is perfect Houston 2014 booty music and the best part of Progression 4 is that Kirko is not nearly as emotionally cagey as Drizzy. Drizzy is half emotional half public relations expert for his emotions so every admission feels heavily vetted, Kirko just drops real live weirdness. Don’t Matter To Me is one of my favorite songs of 2014 so far. It starts like this “I heard about you baby but I ain’t worried bout you baby. I know some N’s had you fore I got you but it’s my time I got you baby. I head about the sh__ you did with Slim Thug. I heard Propain could have hit you at the club and I heard Doughbeezy had you on the southeast but let me tell you bout me. Girl I wouldn’t care if you was a prostitute and you hit up every rapper that I ever knew.” Only Kirko would make a catchy sexy jam about how many nasty things you can have done and still love him. Or make a song about how much he wants to bang Rihanna where he talks about her monkey in the first line (Love Rihanna). At one point in this mixtape he says he gets so much sex from lovely ladies he doesn’t have to do his chores. I don’t even understand that but I love it. Sometimes Kirko feels better than Drake not just cause he’s authentically Houston and brings B.A. Houston guests (Propain, Killa Kyleon) but because his music feels like what Drake would do if he lost his mind when he was drunk. Tell me you wouldn’t listen to that?

Stream or download Progression IV below:
http://www.datpiff.com/Kirko-Bangz-Progression-IV-mixtape.595683.html

Mixtape Review-I Am King by Trae The Truth

Mixtape Review-I Am King by Trae The Truth

by Dan-O

The sound most affiliated with Houston hip hop is the one we all remember from Mike Jones (and Paul Wall). The gleeful gold grilled riding music that Drake has brought back into every stereo. A lot of the country knows the name DJ Screw but wasn’t around Texas during his height when slowed down 2pac songs played in grocery stores and croaked from car windows. Even fewer recall that horrorcore hip hop originated in Houston with The Geto Boys.

It seems only fitting that the same guy who socked Mike Jones in the face at the height of his fame now steps into the spotlight with the darkest Houston project in years. I Am King is 20 tracks long (with 6 unnecessary skits) and largely the product of Trae the Truth’s relentless guest verse grind. He has smashed tracks with everyone in the industry which is why he can make an event mixtape like I Am King that features: TI, Young Jeezy, Diddy, Meek Mill, B.O.B., Lupe Fiasco, Krayzie Bone, Da Brat, Big Krit, Jadakiss, Snoop Dogg, and a Floyd Mayweather personal reference interlude.

My book on Trae previous to this was that he could ALWAYS give you a fantastic verse but his mixtapes were freestyle hodgepodges largely unorganized and hard to listen too. If you’ve never heard Trae he has a voice like a dying robotic Clint Eastwood and it becomes grating after a while. I Am King threw the book out. On Stay Trill(Bill Collector) it’s not just two of the catchiest artists of all time hookery (Roscoe Dash and Krayzie Bone) making the song stick in your brain. Trae starts his verse in a pleasant sway I had no idea was in his arsenal. By the time Roscoe jumps in the song is already awesome. Trae also navigates a League of Starz air horn/hand clap ratchet beat without feeling like he’s challenged himself at all.

The hits on I Am King really hit. The first real song Hold Up features Young Jeezy Diddy and TI and bangs just as hard as it should. No matter who shows up the vibe never changes. Trae is keeping both eyes open carefully searching for disloyalty and lacing raspy warnings over old school Rick Ross feeling thick hardcore instrumentals. I Am King ,in a few words, is hip hop heavy metal. It has exceptions like the sparkling Old School where things turn quite playalistic. Trae not only macks many women but exercises till he gets a cramp which feels like a very pimpish thing to do. Snoop shows up and vibes out with a good verse. The contemplative(Big Krit assisted) I Believe also breaks the heavyness.

Meek Mill destroys his Ride With Me verse but coming off Dreamchasers 3 we should have anticipated that. I Am King is more than proof that Trae is the truth or can rap his ass off in any number of situations. It’s the mixtape I always used to snicker that he couldn’t make. Houston is full of talented underachievers with the skill to create music at the very highest level. They never get there. Trae The Truth absolutely did and the entire time he yelled I AM KING so all I could do was nod. Well Played.

Stream or download I Am King below:

http://www.djbooth.net/index/albums/review/trae-tha-truth-i-am-king