I grew up in the sprawling (humid) metropolis of Houston where the distance between point A and point B is always at least 7 minutes in your car so you listen to the radio a lot. We relied on the local hip hop radio station to get us through the slow death that is traffic. That means I immersed in Slim Thug, Bun B, etc. as I headed to school to reach Chaucer. I was raised in the cadence of Houston rap that shrills through gold teeth and is fast and slow at the same time. It is hypnotic. It is sizzer. You sip on it even if you don’t like it.
My Texas is not one of George Straight or Garth Brooks, although I know for many it is. My mom, a model, in my youth and still hers, played a prostitute in a Geto Boys’ music video. In a scene that took place in an African village. They matted her hair and threw filth on her cheek bones to get the right amount of desperation. I’m guessing it wasn’t believable because it was left on the cutting room floor. My brother and I laughed at our glamorous mother cast that way and we laughed harder because she was in a music video for a group that wore the crown for H-Town rap, and made her Illinois skin crawl.
All of these artists drove my mom crazy: Three 6 Mafia, UGK, Bun B, Chamillionaire, Lil Flip, Paul Wall, Scarface, Slim Thug with their lyrics (“what are they talking about?”) and the repetition, the call and repeat, the women and the purple drank.
There is a bit of Louisiana in there too. There always has been. Ask any caramel girl with shiny black hair past her shoulders and she will tell you her people are from Louisiana. I figure it’s the same. That influence in breeding, in Po-boys, and voodoo is all up in the beats from Houston. In the early aughts, Master P landed in Houston and saved us from ourselves. He stripped the radio he held it in his hands and every kid wanted to be No Limit.
I saved what love I had left over from my MC (Mariah Carey) obsession for a ”lil” rascal from Cash Money Millionaires’ group The Hot Boyz whose scrappiness and playfulness stole my heart.
We went to bed with DJ Screw in our ears. When the sun went down, the DJ put on the chopped and screwed and you were hypnotized by the lull of words eking out so slowly that every syllable was a lullaby. A dirty, cursing, poetic lullaby.
Now, I am a mom. But before I made my life in NYC, I was a teenager in Houston driving to football games blasting chopped and screwed to be cool.