Local Love: Roosh Williams
Houston has gotten to that legendary level in the hip hop game. The city has such a storied history when it comes to the lifestyle and genre, that it’s not strange to find that there’s a rap class happening who’s ready to take the throne of those who crafted our city’s game prior. One of those rappers in the new class is Roosh Williams. Five years ago, the Houston rapper was basically called a college rapper or even “frat rap.” Local comic Gabe Bravo turned me on to Roosh a couple of years back, and I’ve been a fan ever since. When I saw him in the blazing sun of last year’s embattled Houston Beer Fest, I realized that this guy was a next level rapper. His latest, “Unorthodox” comes less than two years after his previous work, and it certainly lives up to its name.
Roosh opens the album up with a little prologue, “Unorthodox” where he drops a slow styled rhyme atop a violin and simplistic live drum beat in the background. I say slow styled, because by the second track you realize real fast that you aren’t going to get Roosh rapping slow very often. Like Eminem, this guy can flow on a mic like he’s a seasoned veteran of the scene, which raises its’ head on “Extraordinary (feat. Emilio Rojas).” Roosh and Rojas don’t take long to advance the song along with a hook heavy chorus that you can’t help but memorize after one listen. I say that as seriously as I can type it, as the track has this nice deep bass dropping in the back like it’s from the early nineties. The third song in should have you on this guy’s side while he mixes it up by going into a simplistic guitar that sits alongside of a basic drum on “Staring At Me.” There’s a synthy guitar that comes in on the chorus, but its pretty faint and the vocals are the main focus here. That mic flow comes as hard as it did when I saw Roosh freestyle to the crowd at the recent Wale show, where they all quickly realized that he deserved to be on the bill. He follows this up with another hook heavy song, that bass heavy and Middle Eastern sounds intertwined track, “R Double.” Roosh lets his presence known when he refers to himself as R Double on the song that feels like a mix of nineties non-gangsta rap mixed with something a little more current sounds.
At the halfway mark, the rapper drops a slow jam with “Woman On My Persian Rug,” before he picks up the pace on another anthemic track, the high energy “Squad.” The song that has a heavy bass drop and a sample of the Ini Kamoze classic, “Here Comes The Hotstepper;” puts Roosh on the forefront of this new Houston hip hop class. The sample gets chopped and re-cut prior to the chorus that gets stuck in your head as quick as it comes around the second time. Utilizing a live drum kit, the sixth track, “Goodness Gracious” comes in like a quiet thief in the night. Some chopped and screwed vocals with a toy piano in the background come in on the chorus, while Roosh flows with lyrics covering topics like rap’s past to the strains of having a degree and working retail. When the Dazz Band classic, “Let It Whip” gets sampled on the opening of “Whip It,” you should definitely have Roosh at the top of Houston’s rap game. He takes it to the next level by cutting the sample with a live drum kit and a funky bass making the song something else entirely; only enhanced by the collaboration with GT Garza adding vocals.
Speaking of next level, when the song, “Deep End (feat. Scarface” rolls in with its’ slow jammed out vibe complete with spaced out synths; you know this guy is in it to win it. When Scarface comes on with his deep and distinct vocals, the fact that the song is at a slower pace just means it’s more likely to become the Summer jam for a whole new generation. As much as I love Scarface, the following song, “Hardway” felt like another standout song. It’s incredibly simplistic while still keeping Roosh’s rhyme flow out front with a basic synth and drumkit sound that just makes you put it on repeat over and over. He closes the album out with a song that’s different from the rest of “Unorthodox,” but not in a bad way. I immediately got that Run The Jewels vibe of the medium paced “Without A Doubt.” Gospel group vocals, a piano, and a molasses bassline are only accented by a handclap sounding drum in the background. When the album closes, you should wonder why you haven’t heard of this guy blowing up bigger than he already is.
For me, the best albums feel fresh while they utilize accents of the past. It’s like Roosh made the rap record many have been waiting for where he keeps it simple when he needs to, while he gets complex when you want it. “Unorthodox” is easily the best of both worlds, and alongside some recent releases, will make any fan of hip hop looking forward to this new hip hop class in Houston. You can pick up a copy of the album when it drops digitally tomorrow, February 24th. Roosh Williams will have his album release party at Walters on March 7th. The show is heavily stacked with T2 The Ghetto Hippie, Kyle Hubbard, Guilla, and Stockz. The doors are at 8:00 with $10.00 tickets for the all ages show.