Deen came back with lavish habits/speaking Spanish.

Funny how shit works.  A week ago, a friend invited me to a rap music conference in Houston. Ordinarily, this shit wouldn’t pique my interest, but she used the expression “struggle raps” and the comedic imagery that flashed across my mind had me reconsidering. Besides, Bun B was scheduled to appear as the keynote speaker and he’s always fun to listen to – well maybe not always, but you know what I mean. Add in free drinks and nothing to do on a Monday night and I was there in all my bloggertorial glory.

I’d tell y’all about the music panels  ostensibly convened to give aspiring artists advice on how to navigate the industry successfully, but it was really just a series of drunk and loud egotists thumping their chests and metaphorically blowing each other. It was disgusting. In any event, I was there for the performances anyway, i.e., the struggle raps.

To my surprise, every performance I witnessed that evening was pretty solid. Some better than others, but every rapper seemed polished and they all had songs that I imagine would qualify as hits (to varying extents) on today’s radio. The only comedic element was all the fake jewelry and shitty tattoos on display. Oh, and the fact that I realized that I occasionally dress like an aspiring rapper in my spare time – might be time to put my Passion of the Weiss stipend to use at J.Crew or wherever rich white people shop.

I managed to leave the event with a deluge of free CDs, so I figured I’d take a listen to some of them and issue random impressions, mini-reviews and rankings. It’s not as if I have anything better to do with my time:

Shitty cover art, whoadie. Transposing yourself over someone else’s Camaro is weak.
But the music’s actually pretty good. O.N.E. reveals himself to be adept at a variety of musical styles and with the exception of a few clunky/corny hooks, I’d color myself impressed. I hear some potential here.

This was the first project I bumped and I figure it’ll take some beating.

This is a single. Not an entire project. I was kinda disappointed, given my proclivity towards actual projects, but those feelings faded quickly.

The best way to describe this shit is “heavily bounce inspired.” As in New Orleans bounce.
It’s noisy and busy and she’s threatening to shoot a nigga for cheating on her. I’m not here for all that shit. That said, some people probably deserve to get shot for all the dirt they do outchea. I’m one of the good ones though. Holla at me – bitches.

Ratchets oughta love this shit. I could be wrong, but a conversation revealed that the lady responsible for this shit is a local stripper. That’s neither here nor there, but I felt the need to share that.

I actually got to have a brief chat with this gentleman. Nice guy. I’m sure that’ll change if he gets rich and famous. He’s a Chicago native, but he’s outchea in Houston making music. His performance was my favorite that evening.

That said, his single (another single, not a project) was a little underwhelming to me, given the heavy Kirko Bangz vibe: autotuned everything, drank this, purp that and hella hoes. Solid effort, but his live energy didn’t transfer to wax on this song.

However, a second song (a b-side in 2012?) called “Body Like” fared a bit better. Just as frivolous as the first single, but the subtraction of autotune and addition of a female vocalist (more like Nicki Minaj impersonator) adds a bit more personality to this song.
Overall? Me gusta.

I just found this shit in a crevice somewhere in my car. I’m not sure it came from the music conference, but whatever. Starts out with a J.Cole-ish vibe. I even fell asleep at one point, but that was probably because of the ridiculously large order of chicken pad thai I destroyed at lunch.

Chucky eschews the J.Cole earnestness for a more traditionally Houston sound by track 4. He fares much better on that track, but the snooze raps and shitty synths take hold until track 10.
There are 4 more tracks to listen to, but I want to end this on a halfway decent note, so I’m stopping right now. Track 10 is truly dope though.

I actually BOUGHT this one (and the next one) in Las Vegas. Yep, you heard me right. More on this a little later.

I was prepared to hate this shit, given the shitty cover art – this is the one with the guy in a white oversized suit over various New York sports logos – and the seller’s annoying pushiness, but it’s arguably the best of this bunch. Some familiar production interspersed with the kind of original shit I imagine Papoose would rap over if I listened to his shit at all.

DJ Green Lantern hosts this shit. Weird, given the shitty labeling or lack thereof.
L.I. is a nimble rapper in the traditional NY style, but he has an arsenal of hooks and flows. In other words, he can make real rap songs. An imaginative reworking of Lil Wayne’s “Let the Beat Build’ is particularly impressive.

This guy might actually go somewhere if he doesn’t annoy everyone he comes in contact with. He was a complete asshole when trying to sell me on his shit. I’m not in Vegas to bargain with you or bankroll your stay at Days Inn bro.

I was on my way to a prohibitively expensive pool party when this guy accosted me with his CD. I only stopped because he looked like he could use the $5. This nigga was ashy as fuck. Pause.

Unfortunately, his music is just as ashy. Dude has decent taste in borrowed beats – a series of 90s and 00s NY underground shit from the Mobb, Alchemist and Preme, but the rhymes and flow are so fucking cliche.

The epitome of that lyrical, spiritual, metaphysical shit. He actually says the following at one point, “…the moment is a gift, this is why it’s called the present…” FOR FUCKS SAKE NIGGA!
I’m embarrassed for him and even more for myself. I spent $3.50 on this shit! Shouts to that pushy asshole L.I. for ruining this guy’s sale. At least his shit was good. Fuck Vegas. And Rochester, NY.

Overall, I have to say that indulging in struggle rap occasionally isn’t the worst shit ever. None of this will crack the rotation (or iTunes – label and tag your shit assholes), but I suppose it goes to show that there’s a ton of talent outchea if you’re willing to give folks a shot before record labels push them on you.

Shit’s funny to me because I almost never accept these broke rapper CDs, but I grabbed one at the conference, one turned into four and four turned into me buying struggle rap CDs in Las Vegas. Weird. Anyway,thanks to my friend for the invitation, the instant margaritas and  the recycling material. All this shit is going in the trash ASAP…