January 24, 2012 14 comments
I downloaded a Kirko Bangz mixtape today (which you probably should as well) and I immediately threw it into rotation. I won’t comment on whether I like it or not because I’m not one who rushes to reach decisions about music as soon as I listen to it. Music should be savored and enjoyed over time like wine. This isn’t Ciroc we’re working with here, but I have digressed. The thing I took away from the mixtape was 1) the amount of Drake beats used, 2) the fact that Kirko feels the need to title the mixtape “A Young Texas Playa” and 3) the song “I’s A Playa”. Not sure how many of you know this but the song is originally a Pimp C song with the hook being sung by Z-Ro. Nice to hear Z-Ro on a project in 2012.
The rap scene in Texas has a long, illustrious history. From DJ Screw’s legacy bringing the screwed sound to the forefront, to birthing legendary rappers such as Scarface who have been able to transcend the local sound, to legendary rap crews Swisha House and the Screwed Up Click, Texas was always a prominent factor in southern music. With as big of a state as it is, it’s hard to believe that Texas hasn’t left more of a permanent mark on mainstream music. Most people are only familiar with Texas music from UGK, Mike Jones, Paul Wall or Slim Thug, but there are many artists that helped define the sound that many artists continue to use today. That’s right: there’s more to the sound and the scene than just being trill and sipping lean.
Kirko Bangz is a major artist carrying the torch for Texas hip hop these days, but then you have other artists such as Drake and ASAP Rocky who are not from Texas but heavily influenced by the Texas sound. To me, there’s a difference between influence and imitation, and a difference between authentic and fabricated. I listen to a lot of ASAP Rocky’s music, and the musical corollaries to Texas are abundant on the surface of Rocky’s music, but it’s hard to treat this as genuine when he never really pays homage to the Houston rap legends. It’s one thing to namedrop Houston and Trill in interviews, and another to reach out to artists such as E.S.G. (as fellow legend OG Ron C did when chopping up Drake’s “Chop Care” album).
I’ve had this discussion on Twitter before and someone responded that artists such as Rocky and Drake are staying true to the Texas culture of hanging out, drinking, smoking and trying to pursue loose females. It’s hard for me to disagree with this statement as I have never stepped foot on Texas soil before. And that’s where I feel the most torn. Is this only for Texas residents to decide who is representing the Texas culture? What about fans of the Texas rap scene? Does my opinion of what is authentic to Houston’s rap scene change if I’ve listened to everyone from Magno to Kiotti to GRIT Boys to Chalie Boy to Lil O to Lil Flip to A.B.N. to Big Tuck to Baby Bash to Coota Bang? It takes more than naming your song “Trilla” to win me over. Throw in some Big Moe hooks, get a Lil Keke feature verse, something.
I think that only time will tell how artists like Kirko Bangz, and future Houston rappers, are treated. And I think it will be directly correlated to how successful artists such as ASAP Rocky and Drake are with the signature Houston sound. They are shining the spotlight on the city and hopefully the city responds with a sense of urgency and pride. But until this happens, I’m going to continue listening to my “Bobby Booshay” mixtape as I swang and a swang and a swang to the left, reminiscing about the glory days.