Hell Up In Houston
If you know me, you know I like to tell the long story to put things in context.
Last summer at the “Cry Freedom” album release party, I got overheated and was sweating cats & dogs on the stage. This was July 29th, 2016, my name and face was on the front page of the Daily Advocate, as there was a story written by my man Justin Ivey. Underneath my picture was headline stories about the civil unrest in our city due to Offers Lake & Salamoni lynching Alton Sterling 24 days earlier for selling bootleg cd’s on the corner. This night at Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge, my people came out looking for healing via some good ol’ underground Hip-Hop.
This night was different, IDK if the AC was out, or if the racial tension was just that thick, but it was hot as a bih, and I was pouring sweat, drinking as much water as possible. I also hosted this night, so the time I got to perform my soul out, I began cramping in my legs, back, and side on stage. I couldn’t stop, because my fans were there to hear my words as therapy; barely able to breath, I was rapping my whole soul out. I got off stage nearly in tears of joy and pain. I tried to sell merch, and I try to talk to my boy George’s new girlfriend. I can’t even finish this drink that she bought me, because I was in too much pain. Too much pain for me to go to my beloved Louies and get the #2 with turkey.
I hobbled my big black ass to my car, drive home, and hit the kitchen to drink as much water as possible. I get in my bed, and about 20 minutes later a GOT DAMN cramp takes over my body. I legit thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe, and it seemed like every muscle in my body is screaming “fuck you nigga!!!” Jessyca, my wife, hops up, scared as shit, and begins to wake the kids. I told her no, it’s too late, call 911. The Amber Lamps arrives and I get in the back of the bus like Rosa Park refused too. They tell me I’m suffering from severe dehydration and exhaustion, and that I can either pay $500 to go to the ER for them to give me Pedialyte and muscle relaxers, or my wife can get me maaaaaaaaaddddddddd Gatorade, a wild big jar of pickles to I can drink the juice, and some Ibuprofen. Choice #2.
Fast forward back to Houston, I walk in the venue, no AC, I began sweating hard af immediately. Uh oh…… Also, I can blame the heat all day, but I know I’ve been eating too good (read as bad) as of late, and I’ve gained a lot of weight. The front door to the venue is literally at the street side with only 4 parking spots directly in front of the venue. There’s a sign that says everyone needs to park at least 2 blocks away by Popeyes in order not to get towed. So I carry mad merch into the venue in the 90 degree heat at night didn’t help keep me from sweating either.
As soon as I get there I see Jason, a.k.a JayKell of N The Clouds, my old friend from college. Love. Dirty of Dirty & Nasty is there as well. The venue is dope. Not big at all, but something I would love to frequent if something were similar in Baton Rouge. My DJ Sole Lab is in there already spinning, everyone’s vibing.
It’s 10:30PM, and though the crowd isn’t a sellout, it’s enough to get started.
First up is N The Clouds, Jason’s band. Quick background on Jay, he was always ahead, but never seriously rapped in college. He actually sold me his old turntabled after he moved from college back to Houston. Now he’s in a dope 5 piece band complete with emcees, a vocalist, a keyboardist, and a DJ, making hella moves in the Houston area. They put on a really dope set with all original and original sounding music.
Next was supposed to be Keith Jacobs, but I hadn’t heard from him, and the show had to go on, so I put Dirty & Nasty up. I’ve known these guys for 6 yrs and we’ve become really good friends. They are also on that Pro-Black/but fly talk like I am, so we have a lot in common. They have soooooo much energy and will jump and scream their raps no matter if they are in front of 30 or 3,000, that consistency and effort is what will take them far. They end with a song called “Royal,” a record that is their best song to date imo.
While D&N is performing, Keith finally shows up. I went to college with Keith at Southern, and we both came up performing at Soul By Demand events put on by Donney Rose. Keith is an R&B singer in the vein of Bryson Tiller, but instead of “Trap Soul,” his music is more like “Screw Soul” because he implements old Houston chants, hooks, and samples into his music. Even though this was a Hip-Hop show, I still felt his style would go over well, and it did.
I’m hosting, not drinking alcohol, but drinking soooo much water because I feel the cramps coming as I’m sweating profusely. I’m tryinna sit down as much as possible, but it’s not helping.
Next up is Kyle Hubbard, another good friend I met maneuvering the underground scene in HTX yrs ago. Kyle is a white rapper who raps about white guy things so dope that you gotta feel it. He’s not a super emo Eydea (r.i.p.) type nor does he do white ally rap like Brother Ali, but his story articulates what it’s like to see the world as a white guy who grew up on Hip-Hop in Houston. Very intelligent, very genuine, and dope af. Anyways, he killed his set with a level of veteran charm know how that I truly admire.
Now it’s my time. I tell Mike to cue up “Ppl 1st,” and Dirty insists on doing an intro. It’s all perfectly timed as I put the mic on the stand and catch the first bar and run it. I get to the hook, and the crowd is loud is hell on my call and response. Good start. Now I wanted to do all my songs in which I mention Houston, but after the show earlier this month, I didn’t wanna take any chances on performing songs in which I didn’t 100% feel comfortable with the words. So I decided to run 6 songs off of “Cry Freedom,” and it went over well. Next was “By Any Means,” then I stopped & did my “5 things.” Leading in with “PPL 1st” has switching up my show a bit, so I’m still learning transitions, this one wasn’t as smooth as I liked it.
Oh yeah, those got damn pesky cramps are here. The best way to relax is to breathe thru cramps, imagine tryinna rap a 40 min set thru cramps. Not fun. Now I’m chugging water and sitting on a stool tryinna fight dehydration.
I get into “Where I Stay,” which I’m excited to do, because it has a Pimp C vocal sample on it. I tell everyone to put their H’s up, and it goes over well. Next is “My Mind,” another joint that knocks hard af in the club. Then “Boss” comes on, my back is screaming, but the show much go on. I split the crowd in half as one side says “B, O,” and the other side says “S, S,” and it goes over well. On this song I have to rap fast for bout 6 bars, and I’m so scared I won’t be able to get em off, but I do. Praise Yeshuah.
Speaking of Yeshua, I chose to kick a 15 yr old acapella that speaks to my spiritual journey into Black Liberation Theology. As I’m doing so, this one nigga is talking loud as hell. I kick the for 4 bars like 3 times before the nigga finally gets the hint. Finish my 16, go into “Stare & Whisper,” and it goes off without a hitch. Towards the end of the song I take a seat on the stool as a precaution, because how I have to bring it home with “Cry Freedom.”
And that I did. It was a point where I stop trying to fight the pain from cramps and chose to let it out vocally. Poured my whole soul out on record and the crowd felt it. Finished up stiff af, thanked the crowd, and made a way to the merch table to take a seat, drink some more water, and hopefully sell some merch. Took mad pics with old friends, new fans, sit back proud as hell that I successfully booked and headlined my first Houston show. Of course I wish I woulda had a sold out crowd, or sold more merch, but the fact is I did what I did and earned respeck of everyone in the building. And I successfully prevented a dehydration/exhaustion attack. Priceless.
Venue Rating: 3/5 (minus for no AC and no parking)
Crowd Response: 4/5
Merch Sales: 2/5
Next Show: June 15th @ Expo Bar, Dallas, TX