Popping the Trunk on Houston Rap Tapes
The shittiest thing about Houston Rap, the big, glossy picture book put out late last year by Sinecure Books, is that it isn't 11 million pages long. A ten-year labor of photographic love by documentarians Peter Beste and Lance Scott Walker, the book is an absolute treasure trove of snapshots capturing H-Town rap culture that instantly became a primary portrait of the city's hip-hop scene. For hardcore music and history buffs, the only disappointing part of the book was reaching the end.
Photos courtesy of Peter Beste Pimp C and Bun B of UGK
The good news is that Walker has foreseen our frustrations. This week, Sinecure is releasing his 283-page companion piece called Houston Rap Tapes. The new book contains more than 40 interviews that Walker conducted over the past decade with Houston hip-hop movers and shakers large and small. The author will be signing copies at Sig's Lagoon today between 6-9 p.m.
Many small slices of the new book's interviews were woven into the photo narrative of Houston Rap. But Houston Rap Tapes offers up the long-form stories, conversations and musings Walker collected from the likes of K-Rino, Z-Ro, Lil' Troy and Paul Wall that offer a richer, deeper perspective on the city's rap culture and legacy.
"Once we started putting the pieces together, sometimes there was stuff that produced a great quote for Houston Rap, but maybe that interview doesn't read quite as well," Walker says. "Or maybe sometimes it was the opposite: there was nothing you could really pull out of an interview that could fit into Houston Rap, but the conversation was great.
"There's so much history that gets explained in just the little things that people say when they're telling stories or they're recalling things," the author continued. "And that stuff was so important because we really wanted to fill in so many of the blanks of the history."
Houston Rap Tapes fills in far more of that history from the folks that made history than any other project to be attempted thus far. Some of the most fascinating stories belong to the more obscure names that Walker sought out for the book.
Lil' Keke, South Park
"I think the most heartbreaking story in book is Wood's story -- Wood from the Screwed Up Click," Walker says. "He was a crack dealer at a really young age, and his home situation became a crack house. He was dealing crack to his friend's mother, and his friend was dealing crack to his mother so they weren't dealing crack to their own mothers.
"It's just an enormously heartbreaking story, but he dug himself out of it and he's built a life," Walker adds. "He's got this perspective that's so important, because it's this perspective that you just can't fathom. Most people can't fathom that something like that might happen in their lives."
Such remembrances read all the more powerfully because they're presented in each interview subject's own words. The author and his collaborators formatted the book into direct transcripts of each conversation, allowing each artist or scenester's own unique voice to shine through clearly.
"From an editorial perspective, I wanted to keep it as bare-bones as possible," Walker says. "It's really important that this story be in the words of the people who lived it. I don't want it to be my voice. I felt that anywhere my words are appearing, somebody else's words are not appearing."
Story continues on the next page.