The Arrival of Correct Hip-Hop "Grammer"

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It's no secret. Houston has a robust rap underground. We have many reasons to be proud of our hip-hop scene. And there's nothing wrong with having one more.

Every now and then, an artist comes out of the clear blue sky, and makes such an undeniable musical introduction, their newness to the scene is irrelevant. Their hip-hop skill set demands respect and can't be ignored. A rapper named Grammer (purposely misspelled) is on track to doing just that with his upcoming album A Grammer Darkly, which at early listen, is bordering on brilliant.

Grammer is full of rich lyricism, intellect, unexpected wisdom and just pure champion stuff. It all harmoniously blends together on Darkly, dropping November 30.

He gives us a taste with his debut video, also named "A Grammer Darkly," with none other than the monster on the mike, V-Zilla. In it, Grammer demonstrates his brain and star power with lyrical astuteness. It's a proper preview to what's to come.

And thank God. We always need better "grammer" in hip-hop. Never mind the spelling.

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#MadeInAmerica: Translation's Steve Stoute Talks Diversity, Honesty, and The Digital Revolution

photos by Marco Torres

This Labor Day holiday weekend in Philadelphia, Jay-Z is teaming up with Budweiser and Live Nation to curate the initial and inaugural Made In America Music Festival, a two-day, multi-genre event featuring acts such as Pearl Jam, Skrillex, Santigold, and Gary Clark Jr, and features the return of D'Angelo and Run DMC.

Organizers expect about 50,000 ticketed spectators to walk through the gates each day, and millions to tune into the Pandora and YouTube livestream broadcasts.

In anticipation of the festival, Rocks Off spoke with author and advertising executive Steve Stoute, who along with Jay-Z serves as co-chairman of Translation Advertising, which specializes in helping marketers reach consumers in the multicultural market.

Translation was awarded the account to market and promote the Made In America festival, and plays an integral role in channelling Jay-Z and Budweiser's vision of a successful music and cultural event into reality.

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Hoodie History 101: Bun B Speaks On The Death Of Trayvon Martin

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Photos via Bun B on Twitter
Bun B and Trae tha Truth (center) at a local rally for Trayvon Martin
When Rocks Off researched our hoodie history, we found its roots and its perceptions to be as complex and racially charged as the death of Trayvon Martin. The hoodie, of course, has become the visual rallying cry for Martin's supporters on Twitter and Facebook profile pages nationwide.

While the hoodie may forever be redefined in the U.S. after the events in Sanford, Fla., last month, negative belief systems about hoodies and hip-hop are no doubt prevalent beyond our borders.

In a May 12, 2005 article in British newspaper The Guardian about a shopping center in the United Kingdom that chose to ban hoodies, Angela McRobbie, a professor of communications at Goldsmiths College, was quoted as saying:

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Texas MC Snow Tha Product Signs With Atlantic Records

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Snow Tha Product inked a deal with Atlantic Records.
"You mean to tell me that you think I don't know that I ain't black?

Or that I don't know that usually Latin girls ain't really been all up in rap?

I didn't know that my color or gender could be the preventer of getting on tracks

See the last time that I checked they play hip-hop in the hood

And I dare you to find a hood with no Latins in it because I don't think that you could."

- Snow Tha Product, "Unorthodox"

Almost two years ago, Rocks Off featured a promising California-raised, Texas-based MC Snow Tha Product. According to her management, Rocks Off was the first major media outlet to write about her. Back then, we wrote

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Milton Bradley: Latino Hip-Hop History Not A Game

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Well, he started off as Doom The Strange and he was one of several underground Latino hip-hop artists in the 90s, but as he got older he shed the rap skin and now sports an R&B coat. And he changed his name.

Several artists have gotten at Rocks Off about Milton Bradley. "Milton Bradley this." "Doom that." "He's making noise." We didn't know if they were talking about two people or one person. In fact, Doom is Milton Bradley. Milton Bradley was Doom. Today, in the Latino hip-hop circle he's one of the most sought-after feature artists. He sings really catchy hooks and elevates tracks with his voice.

But he doesn't want to talk about himself when we speak. He wants to talk about the past. He's been following Rocks Off religiously and he isn't happy with most Latino hip-hop artists not paying homage to the originators of Latino hip-hop in Houston. He wants to educate the Latino youngsters in Houston taking the mike. He feels its their responsibility to know their roots. It's important that they know who paved the road they walk on.

He's not playing around. Carry on Milton Bradley. Carry on.

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Welcome To LALA's Late-Night World, Houston

Anna Laura Gonzalez, 29, known to the hip-hop world as LALA, makes her own luck - straight up and down. And if we're going to keep it real, straight up and down, she's really easy on the eyes.

The beautiful Latina, born in Monterrey, Mex., and raised in H-Town, had a dream of having her own television show, so she went out and created a pilot for LALA's World, a once Internet-only program that gives viewers intimate and fun one-one-ones with Houston's most beloved hip-hop artists, as well as big stars that pass through our city. LALA pitched her pilot to Channel 55 and within days, they were all about it. LALA's World is now airing on Channel 55 on Wednesdays at 2:30 a.m. and on Saturdays on 12:30 a.m.

Meet LALA. Travel into her world.

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"It's About Damn Time" You Heard Gotty

In Monday's mix bag we plugged a video, "It's About Damn Time" by under-the-radar - maybe not for long - 24 year-old hip-hop artist Gotty. You know, when we first took a listen, we were really digging it, but we took it for what it was - probably a track being played all over 97.9.

We assumed this because we felt it was definitely a good-enough, catchy radio track, but we are anti-radio, so we weren't for sure, because we don't listen to it - at all - and we turned out to be wrong. It's not getting much airplay according to our conversation with Gotty, but he was on his way to New Orleans for a radio-media tour so perhaps it'll break soon.

Gotty and Rocks Off have a mutual friend in our boy Will Paz, who works with OG Ron C's Gizzle Management and is always introducing us to hot Houston music. He introduced Rocks Off to the video, and after dozens of listens (we work well to the track), we said to ourselves, "You know, with all the B.S. and hate going on in the world, this could be a 'stand up for change' type of track," but we're constant soul-searchers and there are times when we cry when seeing beautiful flowers, so maybe we were looking too much into it.

Or were we? Meet East-sider Gotty, more than meets the eye or the hip-hop ear.

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Arizona Rapper G-MOE Talks About His State's Situation

Everyone is talking about the controversy surrounding Arizona's SB 1070, and Rocks Off was curious to take the temperature of the Grand Canyon State's hip-hop community. So we got in contact with our current favorite Arizona Latino hip-hop artist, 23-year-old Garrett Antunez, better known as G-MOE (Get Money Over Everything). Damn, that last name alone might get you deported. G-MOE hails from Avondale, Ariz., and we figured we'd ask a true Arizonan about what's going on in the state that has the nation's attention. Oh, and about his music too.

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Snow: The Product That Will Wake Up Your Hip-Hop and Political Games

Let us be forthcoming about 22-year-old, San Jose, Calif., native Claudia A. Feliciano. We'd put her up against any female MC in the game, and we're confident she'd give anyone of them a run for their money... or take their money. She's a versatile, bilingual lyricist who can fluently chop you up in English or Spanish, so take your pick. She has the swagger, attitude, fine-ass looks and in-your-face rhyming abilities to be a hip-hop sensation in the U.S. or Latin America, if only major labels could get their shit together.

For now, Feliciano, better known to the streets as Snow Tha Product, is going to have to settle for being an international underground buzz-maker. We're not exaggerating. You can find her on anything from videos with major-label Spanish-pop sensations like Jaime Kohen, to hit rap videos in Latin America to underground Mic Passes in Texas.

Initially, we didn't approach Snow for The Hot Seat because we thought she was a talented artist, although we had been jamming a track she did with Houston's Stunta, called "The Future" and we were scoping her out multiple times on the Murdaworth Mic Pass. In reality, we wanted Snow because we stumbled upon her weekly live web show she does on Wednesdays.

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DJ Eddie Deville: Mastering Turntable Artistry; Pursuing Anesthesiology; Liking John Mayer

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Pre-med. University of Houston. John Mayer. Atheist. Anesthesiology. These are all terms that aren't associated with hip-hop. Or could that change? Acres Homes' own Edwin Penn may change all that if he stays his course... or, should we say, passes his courses.

Eddie, known better to the streets as DJ Eddie Deville, DJs at more than 50 nightclubs throughout the United States and has given Houston some of the hottest mixtapes in the last decade. He's the president of the Texas Chapter of the Bum Squad DJz, a worldwide fraternity of DJs. He also embodies the five words at the beginning of this blog. OK, he doesn't embody John Mayer - he's not that pretty - but he is a pre-med student at U of H on a career path to becoming an anesthesiologist, who doesn't believe in common conceptions of God, though, he does indulge The Hot Seat's religious questions.

He also talks to us about the DJ equivalent to no-talent MySpace rappers, why you don't want to fuck with the Kansas City Police Department, mother-daughter combos at the club, why Coast is so special and why not everyone should be able to buy Serato.

Join us in talking to DJ Eddie Deville, the man who just might make college cool.

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