The Rocks Off 200: Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Damien Randle describes himself as a "songwriter, producer, rapper, director, comic-book snob [and] owner of seven dogs." Born and raised on Houston's south side, he attended the illustrious Lamar High School. Randle has been making music since the early '90s, primarily as a member of the hip-hop group K-OTIX, aka The Legendary K-OTIX.
Photo courtesy of Damien Randle
Since that time, he has also kept his fingers in the projects of a number of local artists, including H.I.S.D., Radio Galaxy and D Rose/Kashmere Don. Damien also recently co-launched Rappers I Know Records, an offshoot of the wildly popular RappersIKnow.com, which seeks to provide a distribution platform for a number of the artists with whom he works closely.
Home Base: Randle sums up his territory as follows:
Everything begins in Sunnyside, Houston, TX. Most of the pre-work is done at home, but I usually travel where the work takes me to get the job done. I'm very comfortable at home, but there's something dynamic about collaborating in an environment of like-minded creatives.
As a member of K-OTIX, we performed exclusively in Houston for years to hone our craft (and waiting for a break). As time went on, the majority of our performances took place out of town, including Europe and Japan.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Randle has two major pet peeves:
Photo by Marco Torres Damien Randle (left) with Russell "The ARE" Gonzalez.
1. Younger artists who are convinced that what they're doing is completely original and groundbreaking without having demonstrated it. He's all in favor of confidence, but sees too many coming out of the gates with a skewed sense of self-importance. Randle challenges them to study the history of music in this city, thinking they'll be surprised to see that, for example, "underground" hip-hop in the early to mid-'90s was alive and well, and groups were able to tour internationally without the aid of major labels.
2. The pervasive sense of divisiveness in the hip-hop community and the labeling of "this vs. that" brand of rap. It breeds discontent. Good music is good music. Celebrate it in whatever form it presents itself to you.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I'm still here because, simply, my work isn't done" states Randle. "I have my hands in quite a few projects that will see the light of day throughout 2014. After that, i'm looking to become bi-coastal by planting one foot over on the West Coast.
"I think Houston is a highly underrated place to live," he adds. "The cost of living and its centrality is great, but people grossly underestimate Houston's influence and historical impact on music."
Story continues on the next page.