books,  Journal,  music-o-mat,  review-o-matic

Houston Rap, The Book

Houston Rap is a coffee table-sized collection of photographs and interviews deftly spliced together, documentary style, to create a narrative about Houston’s historic rap music scene. Though editors Walker and Beste present the often-brutal content without additional editorial commentary, the format turns out to be rather effective: the interviews and photographs speak for themselves. To that end, Houston Rap is a historical document that should be studied more than casually enjoyed. Not that one could possibly find anything casual about these stories.


  • Northside, South Park, 5th Ward: Houston’s rap epicenters.
  • Rivalries. Rappers often identified themselves by their neighborhood. Gang violence common.
  • Guerilla marketing — cassette tape pop-up trunk sales 
  • Music noted for its differences with LA/NYC rap.
  • Subject matter: honesty and authenticity instead of lies and boasts
  • Rick Rubin interest: emergence of the Geto Boys
  • The influence of DJ Screw on the the music scene
  • The emergence of Purple Drank and Sherm
  • DJ Screw death raises awareness of “drank”: codeine-based cough syrup criminalized
  • Drug crimes treated more harshly than violent crime
  • Nutrition issues in poor neighborhoods
  • Rap culture touchstones: slab cars, screw tapes, Corey Blount
  • First underground hit for scene: UGK (underground kings), “Something Good”
  • Vanilla Ice rap battles with Willie D (it did not go well for Mr. Ice)
  • The Bun B factor
  • After hours club culture

The book includes a poster and a 45 rpm of DJ Screw. Being a vinyl lover, this add-on really made me happy.

Highly Recommended.


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