We think "Weird Al" Yankovic screwed it up for everybody. There aren't lots of times you can use the word "weird" in a good way. That's one of those words we need to take back, on the real, because when you put "weird" into the right context it can be a positive thing - a differentiator from the norm. And to be honest, we're tired of using "unorthodox," "untraditional" and "against the grain." They're a little too nerdy for hip-hop.
There's a 29 year-old hip-hop artist sitting in downtown Houston right now that's weird. If you've been following us, you probably expect to hear that he was inspired by DJ Screw. That he sold drugs to put himself through the game. That he samples the Screwed Up Click's catalogue in all of his tracks. That he dresses the part. That he claims a side of Houston.
We can't tell you any of that. No, this guy's from Brownsville. Yeah, you heard right. He was inspired to rap in Brownsville. Yes fool, we said Brownsville. But he got his real start just across the border in Matamoros, Mexico, doing shows at local nightclubs, learning how to hype a crowd that didn't necessarily have an ear for what he was spitting - yet, at least.
He also got his stage name from a club bouncer, who told him "Espérate, Primo," which means "Hold on, Cuz. Not so fast." Preemo likes to rap with a guy from Tanzania, Africa. He can't go to his favorite DJ to continue to make mixtapes anymore because he was deported to Mexico... again. Instead of the hood block corner, he makes videos in grocery stores featuring harmonicas, not half-naked chicks.
That's weird in a good way, baby.
Aaron Manuel Beltran, a.k.a Preemo - spelled that way because the correct version was trademarked - is one of those guys that make you take a deep breath of relief in this age of recycled lyrics, hooks and beats. When we heard his stuff, it brought back the same feeling we got when we first heard Coast or Drake.
The message wasn't necessarily groundbreaking or new, but the messenger packaged the words differently, so we wanted to open the box, because when they handed it to us, they were standing outside of it. It was a beautiful thing.
Preemo isn't your ordinary underground artist. He has friends in high places, like his independent label's co-owner and Ice Cube's full-time engineer, David Lopez. Before hooking up with Lopez, though, Preemo actually got his start with the same guy that broke R&B singer Amanda Perez back in 2002, Los Angeles radio DJ and A&R music producer, Mighty Mike Quinn.
But Preemo quickly learned that often times compromising your music creativity, no matter who is producing it, is the price of stardom.