Where Have All the Haters Gone?

Photo by Clyde Ellinton Grant
iLL LiaD opening for the Wu-Tang clan at Numbers, circa 2010.
iLL LiaD, another rising young-gun who plans to release his second album at the end of the month, prides himself an artistic bachelor, preferring to forgo the collaborative trend and pave his own path. Describing the Houston hip-hip scene as "segregated wackness," he acknowledges a kind of sophomoric politics that govern the community.

"It's like one popular guy seeing the other popular guy in the hallway while in school," he says. "You say, 'what's up,' but at the end of the day, you know you have to be ten times better than this little b****."

Frank Granados, known onstage as Frankie G Da Mex, is a ten-year veteran of the scene who agrees that, while characteristically divided, it is also marked by mutual support amongst artists. As far as the haters go, Granados says he can't complain about the spirit of competition.

"If you just got nothing good to say about me, but there's no reason behind it besides that I'm better then you -- you's a hater," he says. "But if you just 'know' you're better than me, even though I won't agree, well then it's just good ol' fun and competition."

Obi expresses that same appreciation for the competitive spirit.

"Rivalries are only good when they're funny, in my opinion," he offers. "If it's totally mean-spirited and foul, then it's a total bore. But a good 'beef' brings out a competitive nature -- which is essential in rap -- [through] great music and some good laughs."

Landry agrees that he wouldn't mind also seeing more healthy competition between local artists.

"There is a lot of hand-holding and booty-grabbing on the scene," he says. "'Rappers want to paint each others' toenails and give each other high-fives. There's not a lot of competition in rap anymore.

"What's funny about that is, when certain artists work together, the song or project or whatever is usually something wack, and it sounds forced and fabricated," Landry adds. "Hip-hop culture was based off of aggressive competition, not passive."


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