There are lots of "what ifs" in Houston hip-hop, too many if you ask Rocks Off. What if Pimp C lived? What if South Park Mexican and Bing didn't get incarcerated? You could play "fill in the blank" all day after "what if?"
And we've wondered if the up-and-coming generation of hip-hop artists will learn from other men's mistakes. Will they see what happened to the generation before them and make different decisions? We're not talking about just major mistakes like going to jail for murder or overdosing on drugs and dying, but allowing elements of street life to overwhelm and dilute the talent so many of these cats have when they step behind the mike.
We don't like reading too much into lyrics, because after all, they're just lyrics, but on a track called "Game I'm In" on Northwest Houston rapper Trails' new album Young Brown N Wreckin
, the hook gives us some hope that maybe the new generation of hip-hop artists in Houston are seeing the light. Maybe not living perfectly, because no one does, but understanding that the music has to dominate the life they live versus the experiences they rap about. The chorus, sung by Southeast's Lil Villain (more on this guy later this month) goes:
"To all my patnas promise we gonna meet again/ Been through the struggle comin' up from boys to men/ My eyes seen sin, breaking the trend from hittin' the pen/ I'm tired of losing all my patnas from the game I'm in."
After being rushed to the emergency room to get his stomach pumped at 15 due to an overdose, Jose Ramon Torres, also referred to as Mr. Trails, knew his life had to take a different course. It was time to break the trend.
"I used to get real fucked up when I was younger," Trails tells Rocks Off. "A trip to the emergency room woke me up. I learned that being fucked up all the time don't get you nowhere in [music]."
And what better mentor to have than Lucky Luciano, a man who has taken a 180-degree turn in his personal life, going from a hurricane of drug addiction and all the uncertainty that comes with that life to the serenity of being married, drug and alcohol free living, radio play and walking with his best music foot forward? Trails' first major project was released under Lucky's Steak N Shrimp Records, and he's being taught the ropes by the man who knows how to put out music independently and make money doing it.
Outside of that, Trails is his own man whose street style of rap stays true to the hood music Dope House Records artists put out in the mid to late '90s and early 2000s. It was at a lowrider car show Trails got inspired to rap by seeing SPM on a stage, and he tells us that Tuesday night that he was on his way to a studio session with Southeast's Sen (more on this guy later this month, too) and Low-G to remake SPM's "Block of Rock," - a ballsy undertaking if you ask us considering it's a classic, but we like that.