A3C Review: Part II

Rajesh, Joe, and myself arrived in Atlanta around 3:00pm from driving straight through the night from Houston. We had just a few hours to check into our hotel, get dressed, grab some food, and be at the venue just before 6:00pm. Upon our arrival, we met up with Ghost (an illusive behind the scenes character who keeps a low profile). Before the four of us headed out, my phone rang. It was Rokmore, my producer friend from Chicago who recently moved to Houston. He was calling me to let me know that Mother Nature was out in Atlanta at A3C as well. For those asking "who is Mother Nature?" click their name and educate thyself! You're welcome in advance for showing you your new favorite duo.

I told Rokmore to have them hit me up, so they did. My phone rings, and it's Klevah (one-half of Mother Nature). I had run into her in Houston a few months prior when The Gr8thinkaz were recording at Barron Studios with Rokmore. She tells me they were playing a show that night in Atlanta (as was Rajesh). I asked her what venue they were performing at and it happened to be the exact same venue as Rajesh's show. Most of the time in my life, that's the way energies around me sync-up. When we showed up we realized there were two stages, an outdoor and an indoor. Mother Nature performed on the outdoor stage at The Warehouse on Auburn just before we arrived to the venue. Rajesh was performing on the indoor stage for the "Texas Is Lit" showcase (hosted by OG Ron C & Michael "5000" Watts) later that evening.

I introduced Mother Nature to the crew as we waited for the performances to start on the indoor stage. Coincidentally the stage manager at the venue (who was running both stages) came up to Rajesh and told him, "If ya'll got a spare 15 minutes for a quick set, you should let this duo Mother Nature perform. They just killed it downstairs earlier". So with that, Mother Nature fresh off of an introduction to the showcase hosts was a no-brainer to let hop on for a quick set. They went on stage and with a short set turned the entire room into instant fans.

Rajesh went-in on his set which began with a hiphop beat mixed with some fresh sample of some Indian traditional music. His flavor lit up the night and set the tone for the evening, proving you never know what to expect from a Houston rapper. Chucky Trill was also on hand to keep the night turned up with his energetic rap. The "Texas Is Lit" showcase turned out to be exactly that! Showcasing Houston very accurately to the Atlanta crowd while throwing in our Chicago homies to spice things up.

The craziest part of this intertwined story happens next.

Mother Nature, Chucky, and Rajesh were all in our big squad walking around Atlanta together the night after the show. Seeing that there was far less of a "music-in-the-streets" culture at A3C than you would find at a festival like SXSW, we decided to shoot a quick cypher video right at the Edgewood rail station. Little did we know that A3C would write an article that would come out several days later on the website's front page about the "Texas Is Lit" showcase and feature the very people who are in this cypher video below. Energies crossing paths and being aligned in crazy ways happens for a reason. We love you Atlanta, and thank you A3C for giving hiphop a forum to connect!

A3C Review: Part I

On a weekend at the beginning of October, I found myself in Atlanta for the A3C Music Festival & Conference. I had just flown back in town at 5:00pm that evening from filming a music video on the west coast. On the way home from the airport I grabbed some much needed (and missed) Velvet Taco, went home, unpacked most of my bag, repacked some fresh clothes, then jumped in a car with Rajesh and Joe and embarked on a 12-hour drive to Atlanta in the middle of the night.

Our A3C review is in three parts for a reason - this part of the story comes first because it features the person who made all this possible, Rajesh aka Raj the Rapper. Raj, is a lighthearted soul who helps run a non-profit, The Houston Diaper Bank (which supplies social service agencies with diapers), he also teaches meditation, and is a rapper. I met Raj and his manager Joe a few years back at a music function. I remember meeting him more than I remember the show itself, which is certainly the effect he can have on people he interacts with for the first time. About six months ago, I ran into him again at iMix Studios for a networking mixer. Reconnecting took a second because all of us looked so different from when we had all met (haircuts/hairgrowth/weigh-gain/loss, etc.) We got to talking and Raj invited me to the A3C Festival in Atlanta. I told him, "I'm there" and the rest is history.

The energy enveloped in one week in Atlanta was mind-blowing to say the least as the other parts of the story will tell. This video was shot one late night at 5:00am in our hotel parking-lot and is the essence of pure early-morning-hour artistic creativity. I found some lights and puddles that looked interesting and suggested a good angle to Raj. He flipped through his phone, found a free-styled track that he had no video for and we "one-shot it" real quick.

ALWAYS give in to your creative urges!

Best Show from Local Houston Acts in 2014

HOUSTON, TX - On December 13th, 2014 Dpat joined Fat Tony, The New Mercies, Josiah Gabriel and Guilla as they descended upon Walter's for what turned out to be an incredible show. One that after seeing, made me so happy for everything that has been culminating in the underground of our city for the last few years. Surprisingly, I hadn't been to Walter's since when it was on Washington. Those were the days! Back when Fat Cat's was across the street and underground progressive acts like The Blood Brothers and Botch would come through. The old Washington had that 50% chance of your car getting broken into, fist fights in the street, bikers, punks, hippies, goths, and teenagers - lots of them. We were everywhere. Local acts like The JonBenet, The Kidnap Soundtrack, Highwater Waltz, Listen Listen, The Last Starfighter, and even Dpat's drummer, Jordan Brady's old band The Finalist.

Houston has come a long way since then. The scene has changed - it's shifted into something else which should be the case if you are progressing the art in your city. I am sure some of us have long lists of pro's and con's when it comes to this discussion, but I think the important thing to focus on is that everything is more recognized on a worldwide stage than it used to be. When I say this, I'm looking at it from a "highest concentration" point of view. There is obvious a deep, rich artistic legacy that stems deep into the heart of this city - from Lighting Hopkins and Jandek to Johnny "Guitar" Watson, to Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt and of course ZZ Top. Houston's musical past runs deep with talent. In the late eighties/early nineties The Geto Boys and DJ Premier helped establish Houston as a viable source for great hip-hop. Scarface and UGK helped carry the torch and both have left a deeply ingrained legacy which carries on today. Beyonce has solidified herself as the world's number one diva. Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Kirko Bangz, are all household names. So what does all this mean? 

Now that I broke down our city's musical history in a paragraph, let's talk about the side of the city that's a little more hidden. You know... the side of Houston that remains relatively underground to most residents yet leaks out across the globe unannounced. The up-welling of this has been acts like The Suffers, Fat Tony, and The Ton Tons which are all based in the downtown area. I'm glad you're asking yourself, "Why did he just say 'downtown area'?" Houston is the largest city in the country with no zoning laws - meaning industrial, commercial, and residential are all stacked on top of one another. This effects our locale by breaking everything up into pockets, where the same interest might be found in three entirely different areas of town. Because of this fact, there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs. Every once in a while, you will find something leaking out from the underground, but from a disconnected "pocket". Enter Travis Scott and Dpat. Both of these artists have achieved a good amount for someone their age. Travis Scott is signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle as a producer and separately signed to Kayne's G.O.O.D. Music as an artist. Dpat slipped by almost unnoticed with his 2014 Grammy nominated production; Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You" featuring The Weeknd. His collaborating with Soulection artist Sango, saw him eventually joining their Los Angeles based roster.

So I bet you're thinking, "...a musical article with all this mention of local Houston music history and no mention of DJ Screw!?". Got to save the best for last! So as we can all undoubtedly agree, the biggest influence on Houston culture in the passed decade, and a man who produced a sound that has leaked into international music, is none other than Robert Earl Davis - DJ Screw. May he rest in peace. His legacy and sound has been carried on by Michael Watts, OG Ron C, Z-RO and the rest of the Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.). Travis Scott and Dpat, who are undoubtedly Houston's hidden gems, can both be heard with tinges of Screw's influence leaking out of their pores into your ears. That syrupy, downtempo, dark hip-hop sound that is the birth and roots of the Modern Psychedelic Movement.

It is with great joy that I post the video below. Dpat's sounds represents everything about where Houston is headed. I wanted to inject a little psychedelic Houston-vibe into the production of this live video. Being a child of progressive-minded hippie parents, it gives me great joy to be part of the revival of the energy that my parents and so many more brought to life in the sixties. An energy that stems from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix all the way to the present day - DJ Screw. Yes, that is correct - DJ Screw. Screw was The King of Psychedelic Rap. I am laying claim to the birth of this title! I'm seriously serious for real and here's why. One day while cruising through the city bangin' Screw and Point Blank's "My Mind Went Blank" with S.U.C. producer Jhiame Bradshaw, I told him my epiphany of the title and he said, "You know Trev... I've never heard anyone say that before, but YOU RIGHT!". Robert Earl Davis is by far the biggest influence on the Houston sound. 

The craziest thing about this city, is that no matter how well you think you know it, it always has something up it's sleeve.