POW Premiere: Lord Byron’s “We Kill Cowboys, So Death Rides A Horse”

Dallas' Lord Byron karate chops cowpokes and dropkicks cattle rustlers on his new album.
By    May 18, 2017

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Torii MacAdams has not sold crack rock, but has a wicked jump shot

Gross Road is a misnomer. It’s an exceedingly normal road, with single-story homes, two-car garages, ten-foot-long driveways, and, during my springtime visit, a lacy curtain of humidity–in Dallas it rains, it stops, it rains some more, it stops again. Lord Byron lives on this inoffensive, snaking lane, surrounded by sprawl dwellers who (probably) haven’t noticed that their neighbor–the short one with the recycling bin full of Sutter Home bottles–is Dallas rap’s most out-there dude.

I was in Dallas on assignment for Red Bull Music Academy when Lord Byron asked if I’d like to listen to We Kill Cowboys, So Death Rides A Horse. I said “sure” because, at ten p.m. in Dallas, everything is geographically remote, but nothing is far. Half-an-hour on I-635 from North Dallas to East Dallas: warm, orange light post glow; Garland’s semi-phallic water tower; Big Tuck in the CD changer; lifted pickups with “Lock Her Up” bumper stickers and truck nuts.

Dallas is probably a difficult city in which to be weird. The Bishop Arts District is a Potemkin village for creative types and Deep Ellum, once a bastion of black music, is suffering from the slow, viney encroachment of glass box lofts and SMU boat shoes. On We Kill Cowboys…, Byron’s included a posse of fellow off-kilter on-beat Dallasites: Ben Hixon, who’s played guitar for Erykah Badu and Seven Davis Jr., produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered; drumming prodigy Michael Mitchell coos an interlude; experimental beatmaker Norvis Junior makes an appearance. These are unusual people from a rather boring city.

For much of his fledgling career, Byron has looked askance at both his city’s traditions and his peers. His 2015 album, Digital Crucifixion, was abstract and angular, sculpture rather than swanger. If it was a Dallas album, it was his very own, private Dallas. We Kill Cowboys…, though, feels localized with its raps about Rudy’s Chicken, the Dirty South Rydaz, and candy paint. With We Kill Cowboys… he’s created a way-station between Dallas gangster rap and the unusual, outré Dallas he hopes to inhabit.

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