Houston, I love you.

The Culture

Dear Houston,

My love for you.

The time had to be circa 1997. I remember this moment vividly, almost down to a T. I was four going five or already five, riding around with my big cousin. Back when IceBerg T’s and starter jackets were the style and of course, big cousin had the unit. I’m in the backseat of one of those want-to-be slabs–you know, the ones that were barely operable, black and mild ashes on the carpet, a lighter in between the seats, and peeled off tinted windows, the black ice was hanging from the rearview—but the speakers in the trunk jumped through your soul. I’m riding, chilling while one of his chicks rode shotgun. He proceeds to the drop her off at the crib and went in; now that I look back, they were definitely having sex because I was in the car for a cool fifth-teen minutes or so, and I just sat in the car. He gets back in, laughing and talking shit, you know, the whole “you see how big cous do it, that’s how you gots to be!” At that age, as a child you want to impress your cousins, so I just nod with a huge smile and say, “Already”.

Hop up front and don’t tell granny you rode up on front, he said. I got out, hopped in the front seat and we got ready to head to the UH basketball game. Before we pulled off, he lit his Swisha sweet, fill with what I now know to have been reggie and popped in, the tape. The “Gray Tape”. That is when I heard the song and the words that would make me cherish that day and the city I’m from forever. The beat, the slowed down feel, and bass in the trunk that reached me from the back and rattled the car.

“I’m still drapped up and dripped out, reclining the top, straight up out of H town and the funk don’t stop, watch the trunk just pop and the front hop, I’m gone swang on these boppers and clowns these cops” – Lil Keke, still pimpin pens

At that age, that sounded like a hood hymn. It sounded like a way of life; shit, it sounded like the only way to live. That day, we didn’t even go to game, we just rode around to different spots on the south side of Houston but missing the game didn’t matter. Only thing that matter to me was keeping the feel banging. From that day on, that sound became mine, in a way, and it influenced my life in many ways that I still carry til this day. Houston, I love you.

I’m talking about back in the day when the Saturdays in the barbershop was really the spot to be, no matter the wait. Southside fades only, R.I.P Big Pete. Summer time riding through different hoods on your bike. Interestingly enough not too many kids just rode their bikes through dead end; a notoriously known hood in the Southside of Houston which was home to S.U.C members Fat Pat, Hawk and more.

We miss you two.

Dead End Alliance 

That one time, Big Pokey performed at my sister’s sweet 16, or when I met Hawk years later and he was just so cool. His swag, style and demeanor was like somebody you’d want to be. The one rule he told me was to always “keep it playa”. If you know, then you know exactly what that means.

Where were you when King’s flea market was jumping and you could get Iceberg T-shirts, new speakers, car wash and hot food? What did you feel when Big Moe, just a dog came on the radio and 9.79 ran the track back several times, can you even put that feeling into words?

Big Moe, Purple Stuff

I’m talking about when Burger Park and Timmy Chan was the best food your mama didn’t cook, in the world. Do you remember FunPlex days? Lockwood or Almeda skating rinks? Random fights with other kids because they’re from the Northside? I even remember drinking codeine cough syrup at like nine or ten from my granny’s medicine cabinet. Where the good cough syrup was. I had no business doing that shit but I mean, that’s what we do in Houston was all I’m thinking. I got really sick after that. Nonetheless, this was fun for us. Sometimes, I’m happy for kids nowadays. They’re not built for that. We were some tough kids. Then other times, I have moments where I play Southside by Lil Keke, and I’m the only one who has some type of enthusiasm. Now I’m like, “damn, you kids life is trash”.

South Side, Lil Keke

Throughout time, the city has changed drastically. With time, change is inevitable and I understand this. So when I think of the memories that first engaged me at that young age, I think of moments where you had to be there to know what I mean. Especially coming from my side of town. The south side of Houston, where everything was. You basically had to travel to us if you wanted to do a lot of things.

Astroworld, Compaq center, and more. You got to come to us. We took pride in that, even as kids. You had to be there when the south side cowboys were the shit in little league football. Games were like a huge drug dealing concert. Nothing about was safe but we did not give a shit. I mean seriously, drugs were being slung while trunks were open and the home town music filled the air. It wasn’t like they weren’t showing love neither. If a kid mad a big play; especially a big hit, you had your post game lunch bought. No questions ask. It wasn’t shit but hot link sandwich, but all we wanted to do was make the “O.Gs” proud.

It wasn’t always sweet growing up but the culture in our city would temporarily make you put any home b.s to the side. For instance, a random freestyle session before you had ride your bike or walk home. The freestyle would always start with “ I don’t came down” or “Man hold up” and a pure freestyle from the top of the head would follow and now everyone is fighting for the moment to pop into session. Some of the homies got in once, and never spoke at another freestyle again. They became designated beat makers, with one job. Just do the Southside beat. Shout to Shermaine and Rudy, my cousins.

Today, Houston is nothing like the place I grew up loving but it is still a place I love. Despite ruining 288 and other freeways, were still an innovative city that continues to make those leaps and progresses forward. Houston had the first four WNBA championships with the Comets, changed the music and boxing business forever. We are also medical capital in the country, continuing the pursuit of improving medicine and saving lives. Look at how we bounced back after Harvey, we did that together. Shout out to Trae, Gerald Green and King Keruan, they really came through. One of which is still banned from the radio in his hometown, but that aint stop the love from Floating.

Even our artist are different. Travis Scott is nothing remotely like the artists before his time, but you hear the DJ Screw influence in his music that he makes. Our roots and influences run deep, so I cherish those moments that brought me to the place I’m at now. Hell, the impact artist like Lil Keke, to Lil Flip, Z-ro and more got me through a lot as a kid. Because of this, I know that I’ll be able to pass those same influences down to my children. Of course they won’t experience what I did because like I said, time changes. With that being said, I won’t fight the change but embrace it and find a way to link my experiences and past with the youth.

So thank you Houston, and all of our fallen soldiers who are not here with us today. For all of the hood heroes, like Z-ro, who signed an autograph for me at the shell gas station on South Post Oak. For making MLK day, Houston Slab Holiday in its own right. For creating an atmosphere that is so contagious, that athletes and entertainers all gravitate to our way of living. Sometimes, it doesn’t end well, especially for some ball players. Thank you to Travis Scott, who has created a new lane and inspire so many of the youth throughout the world with his new age Houston sound. Thank you to 9.79 Tha Box! For freestyle Fridays, embracing our spirit, culture and inspiring a whole generation of new broadcasters who just wanted to put on for their city. By the way, Madd Hatta had the 2nd best and legendary verse on “Down South”, but he owe me a pizza party from the 3rd grade.

Thank you to Magic 102.1, for giving us young kids the music from the past and curving our love and passion faster than what it should have been. It only made us love the city more! Especially Marco Spoon after 9 pm on the quiet storm.

Thank you UGK. Thank you Beyoncé for the all of the known and unknown work you do for the city and truly being an icon. From the house! Your inspiration for young women has tremendously changed the way women operate today! More importantly for refusing barriers or limits, word to Blue Ivy. Thank you Mayor Lee P. Brown! Thank you Dad, R.I.P, for being south side right along with me, blasting Fat Pat on Saturdays and not keeping us sheltered. Always getting “our funk asses” out the house. To my uncle Joseph for showing us a different side of Houston because, you know, that’s what you did! Thank you Mo City, Southbank, Dead End, 5th ward, Homestead, Sunnyside and Acres Home. Houston, I love you. I always have, and always will.

“Who in the hell, was able to tell, the Southside they had to chill?”

My Top 5 Houston Sports Moments

  1. Ross Shaw Sterling 5 game winning streak to make the playoffs, 2009
  2. Astros Winning the world series
  3. Yates beating everybody in 2009 season…. especially Lee
  4. T-mac 13 points in 33 seconds
  5. Vince Young beating the Texans at home.

My Top 5 Houston Houston songs

  1. Mo City Don, Z-ro
  2. Pimp Tha Pen, Lil Keke
  3. Wanna be a Baller, Lil Troy
  4. F**k Faces, Scarface
  5. Down South, Mista Madd

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