Artist of the Week: The Underappreciated O.N.E. Suits Up

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to sheaserrano@gmail.com.

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O.N.E. has long been a Houston Press favorite. He is a talented rapper, focused and smart. He can be a bit overzealous in his lyricism occasionally, but that's always better than being a bit ignorant in lyricism (which is what's at the other end of that see-saw).

This Friday, he is having a mixtape release party for The Starting Five, his latest effort. (Celebrate.) So we tugged on his cape and asked him a few things. Keep it moving for his Artist of the Week interview, which includes an actual explanation for why he has so much punctuation in his name, what position the elephant-chested DJ JBOSS would play on a basketball team and what O.'s two very best lines might be.

Rocks Off: First, tell everyone everything they need to know about O.N.E. in exactly six words.

O.N.E.: Humble, diverse, cultured, passionate, trustworthy, driven.

RO: The name, can you explain that? Why O.N.E. and not One or, shorter still, 1? Is there some sort of cryptic meaning behind the punctuation and capitalization? Or did you think it just looked cooler?

O: Well, the name is comprised of different aspects the literal meaning is "One Not Equal." Not trying to be arrogant, just wanted to state no one is like me. The name came about in high school. Everyone at the school knew I rapped, so any time we were away from school I would spit a verse I would end it by saying "one!" 'cause that was the thing to say at the time. After so many flows, they just started calling me "One." It just stuck. Later on, I wanted to give it a little more meaning so I made it an acronym; O.N.E., One Not Equal.

RO: Your new tape, The Starting Five, is ready to be released. Talk about that some. Who are the starting five? What are they starting? Is it a basketball game? What position do you play? You look like a two guard, but that's just a guess.

O: The starting 5 is a concept I came up with -to put on a real mixtape exhibition--and I recruited the DJs based on their skill set.

Go DJ GT is like the shooting guard. Go DJ JBOSS is like the power forward (no pun intended). [laughs] DJ Hi-C is the center (CEO) and DJ Xplicit is like the small forward and DJ Merck is the floor and I'm Pat Riley, the GM.

Listen to "Words" from O.N.E.

RO: You've had several lines in several parts of several songs that were just very hyperclever. Which two are your favorite O.N.E. lines of all-time?

O: I would have to say one is, "You buying the bar? This must be a joke. The only bars that you buy is the ones I wrote." And, "karma sutra of this rap, I got different strokes." That's a line from a song where I named TV shows to describe my life.

RO: After this tape, your actual album, Spirit Driven, comes. That's 2012, right? Couple of questions for that:

Have you become a gospel rapper now? When will we see the O.N.E./Bushwick track then?

O: No, I have not become a gospel rapper. I named it Spirit Driven in the sense of being self-motivated. I look at myself as a loner in the city scene of hip-hop and it's all on me to push me to succeed. Don't think of it being in the religious sense.

RO: Do you have inside knowledge that the world is ending in 2012, so you decided to call your album Spirit Driven to sort of get a good last showing in with God?

O: You always have to be on that quest, whether or not the world would end soon. Stay humbled and prayed up and things will be okay.

RO: Finish this: When people finish listening to O.N.E.'s music, the first word they say is...

O: I would like people to say that "I felt that message." Every song I create is from a place in time where anyone can relate. I'm not big on punchlines 'cause my lines may have two or three different meanings. And I'm a firm believer in gaining true fans through the heart and mind.

Subscribe to www.youtube.com/oneonair and follow O.N.E. on Twitter at @onesthename.

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