Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 was quite great, but um, yeah, 2009 is so mine

WE HAVE A BLACK PRESIDENT! It's true, in fact I think I have to say, it's bout to go down, it really is. I don't know why I feel hope, but I do. As news comes in that one of the members of PR was killed, by a tank, in Gaza, I'm still sitting here, having hope.

PR being the group PALESTINIAN RAPPERS of which my man Mohammed Al Farrar is a member (and thankfully, now living in Dallas).

But I feel hope. It's not like I don't think bombs will drop in the next eight years, I just feel like maybe less bombs will drop. It's not like I am looking at Obama as a savior figure, as so many others are, but for the first time in my life, and I am serious, almost 37 years into it, I feel hope for the world.

Please don't prove me wrong.

Like these pigs in Oakland on New Years...

Anyhoo, that's neither here nor there. I always get this strange feeling around the turn of the years. Seriously, ever since I was a little kid, I'd get this sense of doom around midnight on New Years Eve and could never really explain why. I mean, if you think about our calendar in realistic terms, it means nothing whatsoever. I mean yeah, it's a good gauge of the turn of the seasons, and it tells you what days to go to work, but all those numbers really don't mean shit. So why would I shudder?

I guess cuz I'm a worrier, I really am. I worry and fret over everything, all the while keeping up this guise of cool. People tell me they have never met someone as laid back as I am, and I always think to myself, "that's cuz you can't hear the screaming inside." I mask it well. And when I don't, people tend to flee my cipher.

Like last year round about this time, the family and I were moving to Austin. I was ready for the move, excited for it in fact, but I was also totally worried. I lived here for pretty much all of 1995, then again from January of 1997 - September of 1998. Had tons of fun and such, but always felt a bit closed in by Austin. Or really, like I didn't fit in.

There's a good chunk of me that fits the laid back Austin mold, but I also tend to be sort of brash, hurried, and terribly unsatisfied with anything, which kinda doesn't work here.

I wasn't sure how I was gonna fit into the landscape of Austin, but to be real with you, once I got here and really got into it, I fell in love with this city and today truly think Austin is one of the greatest in our nation.

And yeah, it's because of the lakes, it's because of the weather, it's because of the roof decks at The Mohawk and Flamingo Cantina, it's because I have a cool job at SXSW with a steady check, but really it's mostly because of you. The people who have welcomed my family and I to this town. The people I work with. The people I hang with. The family that surrounds us. It's like a whole different world from Houston, and I love it.

Austinites are on a wholly different level.

I love Houston, and if you've been reading me over the past few years, you know I love Houston. That's my city.

But in Houston there's 4 million people and in Austin there's about a million. In Houston when I put a show/party together with progressive artists most people have never heard of I can get like 150-250 people, in Austin I can expect an EASY 300 and sometimes hit like 600 and shit. It's so weird man.

And then of course in Houston, the mainstream shit draws stadium crowds, but that's not my concern.

I like music. I love music. I love art. Great art, and feel as though all real art should be held in the highest regard. From a rare Picasso, to a verse from Trae, like seriously, it's all art and should be regarded as such. I have to admit that living in Houston I kinda didn't surround myself with enough "rarified Picasso's" and kinda well, immersed myself in too many "verses from Trae." (Note I am being symbolic here, I hope you get it. I am a Trae super fan).

Therefore kind of souring me on rap music in general. There's not enough Trae's is what I say. So as of late I've been really spending more time with other forms of music.

Anyway, that's what makes Austin so appealing to me. I mean, in Houston, there's a few cool bands, there's a couple scenes that are real cool and worth diving into, but really for me, the sound of Houston is RAP. It's Rap City to the fullest. Here in Austin, musically it's a little more up my alley. There's still great rap music here, from street shit to innovative indie kids, but I mean, when I think about the bands/artists I have seen this year, who hail from right here in this town, it blows my mind.

Grimy Styles, Rattletree Marimba, Awesomecooldudes, {{{Sunset}}}, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, Gerald G, Gary Clark Jr., Bavu Blakes, White Denim, Bird Peterson, Neckbone & Terell Shahid, Rapid Ric, Young Nick... man the list goes on and on and in so many different directions. Austin really is a true music town. (Though my two favorite and most promising young rap acts - Southbound and Dred Skott - broke up. Also PPT from Dallas. Grrr.)

Anyway, I guess as a blogger I am supposed to come up with all sorts of year end lists, but that really was never my thing. I even feel bad about making the short list above as I know I am forgetting a lot of names who deserve to be on it.

But you can read a list I made for the Austinist here. They asked for my top 5 albums of 2008 and well, the ones I listed were surely ones that stood out.

And this list right here made me shed a light tear! listed their best moments in Austin hip-hop and mentioned me. Which means a lot man. Seriously. How nice. And man, that list brought back memories. Dudes pretty much nailed it. I forgot how much happened in this one short year...

So that was nice. But I am not much for lists. I will say however that my 52 favorite freestyles came from Bavu Blakes, who uploaded a new song/flow every week in 2008 to

His latest, and last of the year is 72 bars over like 8 beats. GO GET THAT! And look for Bavu's Long Player entitled TOO SELFISH in mid-2009 or we all just give up.

Someone already got I guess...

Some of my favorite mixes of the year came from Lil Tiger and his folks over at Dudes DO NOT STOP!

KUT Became my favorite radio station. I actually realized that last Christmas just before we moved here. I was laying in bed in a hotel room by Highland Mall contemplating my impending move, listening to the late night music on KUT and was like wow man, having a great music station means so much. Houston radio SUCKS at night (and this is coming from a dude who did a late night radio show for 5.5 years, but alas, I couldn't lay in bed and listen to that). Anyway thank the Good Lord for KUT.

Um, ME Television sort of bit the dust this year, which would qualify as my greatest Austin Music Disappointment of the year, cuz well, I had a lot of hope for that little station. I still say if they had a couple more markets, and not just Austin, they could really thrive.

I don't know where I am going for this, I think I am blogging for the sake of blogging. Writing words, because I haven't in so long. Thinking about Austin, when I should be out experiencing it on my last day off of the winter break. But alas, I've spent the past almost 2 weeks outside, in 70 degree weather and sunshine, and today, well this 46 degrees is just bone chilling to me. I think I'll grab my Sunday Statesman, a beer, and go sit on the couch and read someone elses writing.

I really just wrote all this to say Thank You to all of y'all who have made my new-ish life in Austin so wonderful, and to say, that um, well I'm gonna blow up huge and do something really nice for this town, effective NOW. Major announcement coming soon.

And man, I can't wait to tell you about all the hip-hop that's coming to SXSW this year. I can't spill it all but um... B.o.B., Wale, Asher Roth, Sage Francis, P.O.S., dead prez, Al Kapone, 8Ball & MJG WITH A LIVE BAND, Bavu Blakes, Gerald G, man lemme stop. This year there's gonna be more hip hop than ever and it's gonna blow your (and my) mind.

And I'ma do at least one show/party a month if not more. I don't care. It's goin' down. Happy New Year to you and yours and lets try to stay in better touch.


Anonymous said...

Hey Happy New Year, and thanks for the kind words! Maybe 2009 will be the year that we can find some hip-hop rappers that can flow with the Zimbabwean marimba tunes!

With love and gratitude,
Joel Laviolette
and Rattletree Marimba

Mr.Blakes said...

thanks for everything you've done to help breathe life into the world around you, including the artists. you are a gift who keeps on giving. peace

Pushermania said...

Thank y'all for doing what you do and I think we can def find some MC's for a Rattletree song/show. Why not???

OG said...

Another solid year in the books...

Ter'ell Shahid said...

Austin appreciates all the help you give in pushing our music through the industry. Let's make 2009 the Year of Austin Music!