Five Spot: H-Town Veteran Klondike Kat

Welcome back to Five Spot. Every Friday, we'll examine a recent bit of music news and, sometimes awkwardly, tie it to a bit of Houston rap. It's five videos and occasional cussing. Send tips to introducingliston@gmail.com.

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The first time we ever met Klondike Kat was at ScrewFest a couple of years ago. We were walking around pretending like we belonged there, chatting up a bunch of second-tier rappers about how the state of the music industry was the sole reason they were not worldly famous and whatnot, when he approached.

Klondike looks every bit the weathered rap veteran he is. If memory serves, he was in an outfit similar to those half-polyester suits you see old black men at Luby's on Sundays wearing. He's a stout dude; not fat or exceptionally cut up, just thick.

"Hood thick" would probably be a good way to describe his structure: the type of frame you get from lifting weights in the back yard on a daily basis while making no attempt to taper the rest of your lifestyle towards healthy.

More menacing than his build, though, were his eyes. They were averaged-size eyes, mind you, not too far apart like Z-Ro's or too close together like Marco Jaric's, but his brow seemed to hang over them constantly - the result of years spent scowling, we imagine. The whites were worn brown and the browns were bright like pennies. It produced an unsettling effect. You wanted to stare at them but you didn't, because even fully clothed it was pretty obvious that he could seriously fuck someone up.

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We were in the middle of taking pictures of another artist when he walked up to us. He was real nonchalant. He wasn't smiling, but he wasn't upset either. All he said was "Aayyyy." We looked at him for a second in a very befuddled manner - at the time, we'd barely heard any of his music, and the only picture we'd ever seen of him was the hand-drawn one on the cover of his Lyrical Lion CD, so we had no idea who he was. Bitch, his pennies shone, incredulously. "Klondike Kat. Take a picture."

It's hard not to like a guy like that. And that's before we even really got into listening to his music. He was at the peak of his powers about two decades ago, right around the time gangster rap was getting really popular and Houston rappers were looking for a way to localize it. He's always been more Eazy-E than Pimp C.

Even after UGK began to hint at attaining iconic stature in hip-hop and everyone else decided it'd be a good idea to copy them, Klondike admirably maintained his polished and punishing style. Listening to him now, you're immediately struck by his maudlin appeal. To wit:

"Gots To Kill 'Em": This is that CD we mentioned. There was no way we - or anybody, really - was going to recognize Klondike Kat if this was the only picture they had of him. It's probably the worst drawing we've ever seen. We think the same artist drew the famous Unabomber picture.

"Brain Matter": The wraithlike quality of this one makes it pretty obvious that he gets down with metaphysical lyricist K-Rino. (Note: we figured that even before the 2:45 mark, when he shouts out "What up, K-Rino?")

"Loc'd Out Drop Top": If the Devil drives a car, he probably listens to this while he does so. You know when you're on 610 in the morning heading to work and there's always some moron in the fast lane driving 60? And when you finally get a chance to drive past him you make sure to look at him long and hard so he knows that you're a total tough guy? How much would it suck if when you pulled up next to him it turned out to be the Devil? What do you even do in that situation? Nod? That's what we'd do.

"Playin' Wit Yo' Life": We're not sure why, but despite our brain telling us that this should be registering as awful, we really like this song. We suspect it has something to do with the absolutely singable melody that comes on at the 3-minute mark. Seems like the kind of thing someone would say in a really bad BET movie.

"South Coast Funk": Has there ever been a more appropriate title to a song? We vote no. Try this: the next time someone comes over to your computer play this song for them and ask what they think the title is. We guarantee you they'll say "Umm, I don't know. 'South Coast Funk'?" Also, this remains to be the only song we've ever heard that shouts out Dairy Ashford.
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