New Book Explores Houston Hip-Hop's Fertile Roots
Ed. note: Before now, the history of Houston hip-hop has existed in the archives at Rice University (Swishahouse) and the University of Houston, as well as the songs themselves. But someone has finally written it all down in book form.
Photos courtesy of Maco L. Faniel/The History Press (Courtesy of Carlos Garza) L-R: future Ghetto Boys Raheem and Sire Jukebox and DJ Ready Red
Maco L. Faniel is a Houston native, hip-hop fan and graduate of both Texas Southern University and Texas A&M University now pursuing his doctorate at Rutgers. His first book, Hip-Hop In Houston: The History and the Legacy, was published last month by the South Carolina-based The History Press, and will be available at Cactus Music Saturday, where Faniel will sign copies of Houston Hip-Hop starting at 1 p.m. He was gracious enough to allow Rocks Off to publish the excerpt from the book's introduction that follows.
Although I have never lived in a world without hip-hop, its sounds did not dominate my elementary years. During those years, I grew to love the music that played on my mother's car radio and home stereo: funk, soul, "downhome blues" and R&B. Her songs were special to me because they were special to her.
Unknowingly, she taught me much about life through her music selections. She was my first teacher of context because of her constant beckoning to make sure that I understood the meanings of certain songs.
Three songs hold special significance: the Temptations' "Treat Her Like a Lady," Bobby Womack's "Woman's Gotta Have It" and the Commodores' "Zoom." She used the first two songs to teach me how to love a woman, because she wanted to make sure that I did better at it than the men that had failed her. The last song was her way of teaching me how to hope beyond momentary despair.
Even though hip-hop began to make noise in the '80s, it was still in its nascent years, too young for my mother, a young adult in Houston. I can't say that she hated hip-hop; she just never caught on to the culture. Therefore, I only heard hip-hop when hanging with cousins or intermittently on local black radio stations or MTV.
This all changed between 1988 and 1992. For a brief period, I had an older stepsister and stepbrother that both had access to rap music. On television, I was able to see hip-hop more because of Yo! MTV Raps and the Arsenio Hall Show. I also received my first stereo and Walkman, which gave me control over the music that I listened to.
Steve Fournier: The DJ, promoter and early Def Jam regional rep was of Houston's most influential early hip-hop figures
At ten, I received my first rap tape, MC Hammer's Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. I learned the lyrics to the Geto Boys' classic song "Mind Playing Tricks On Me," which hit the airwaves in 1991.
In that same year, 97.9 The Boxx (KBXX) launched in Houston as a radio station devoted to hip-hop and R&B music. In 1992, I went to my first rap concert to see Kriss Kross perform. At the end of 1991, my mother began a three-year separation that eventually resulted in a divorce. As a result, she had less time and energy to pay attention to my daily activities; and I had more time to develop my own tastes in music, listen to music that she did not necessarily approve of and get into adolescent troubles.
Story continues on the next page.