Let’s face it. In these trying times, Texas rap at its best deals with stress-management. Whether reacting to catastrophic loss or even just the hardships of the daily grind, we’ve come to expect rappers to help us persevere. That certainly puts some unsavory characters in at least partial charge of our collective mind state. But at least we’re listening to folks who have actually been through some shit, opposed to putting faith in all of the armchair quarterbacks out there who in reality couldn’t complete a pass to save their lives.
For me, Texas rap in 2008 has been all about Assholes by Nature. From the leaked tracks to the ultimate release of the It Is What It Is album, it has become difficult for me to listen to any rap not made in collaboration between Z-Ro and Trae. Maaan, how they put it down in such a striking manner on songs including “Umm Hmm”, “Still Throwed”, “Who’s the Man”, “Rain”, “Miss My Dawgs”, and “Still Gets No Love”. As someone who has actually gone through a fair share of therapy, let me say that that the ABN album is worth its weight in endless co-payments. Not that I’m going as far as saying that “everybody die” should literally be taken as any sort of concrete solution, but the amount of sheer energy release that occurs throughout It Is What It Is reminds me of nothing short of John Coltrane at his creative peak.
And damned if many here throughout the state don’t realize just how valuable a commodity we have in our psychoanalytic rappers. Scarface in particular has been publicly performing mental surgery on himself for decades now. I mean, I really can’t put my finger on the exact reason why Texas has become such a hotbed of people self-prescribing an outright overload of codeine ingestion (RIP DJ Screw, Big Moe and Pimp C), but the landscape remains as purple as ever. And by many accounts, things are getting more complicated by the day.
Therefore, why the hell not go for broke and let your soul completely hang out over a banging track? Speak in tongues if you have to. Just let that shit out to the point that we can truly feel it. Austin rapper Gerald G knows what the fuck I’m talking about. His video-aided single “How I Was Raised” along with its haunting, introspective overtones might as well be the blueprint for what could help bring any human being out of a tight spot.
And don’t go and take this as a dis to primarily Dallas rappers who clearly seem to be (young) jocking the faux-ignorant simplicity of the ATL scene. Maybe not “Stanky Leg” so much, but you can definitely find me nodding my clouded head to Damn D’s “She Just Love Me”. Point being, there is a time to laugh just as there is a time to cry. But hell if you can bread some butter and expect to remain nourished for all that very long. In other words, try buttering the gotdamn bread instead!
Commentary by: Harvey Canal