Last Friday, we along with The Hip Hop Effect, image.in, Space City Records & FHE sponsored the second annual S.P.E.A.K. II concert showcasing some of the best in underground hip-hop in Houston. If you notice in the gallery below, I broke the “bloggers don’t smile in their pics” rule. All in all it was a great event that nearly packed out such a small venue and gave away the opportunity for us to help create S.P.E.A.K. III. Do I know when it’s coming? No, but of course we’ll fill you in on who and where.

But, there were enough memories from a week ago that I can share for those who weren’t there. So instead of my usual professional style recap, we’ll get down to the nitty gritty about who did what, who rocked what and who was worth every penny.

Each participant from Hollywood FLOSS to Twenty Eleven attempted to top one another in terms of performance. Dirty & Nasty brought their respective brand lyricism & Nasty’s love for the 1993-95 Houston Rockets. Ensane & That Purple Bastard attempted to bring back crunk circa 2004 with their set, including a finale that TPB produced without a hook, without a verse and powered by Ensane’s energy and ad libs. Ricquo Jones changed the whole mood of the show with a stage set that bridged pop, rock & hip-hop. Tracks like “Party At The Hilton” and “Red Cup Affair” kept the crowd rocking, running on newfound created energy as Jones parlayed his work from our cypher into a show where folks were demanding songs and singing along to his performance.

Looking at Twenty Eleven for the first time and you notice is not only how youthful the band is (not a single member can drink so I couldn’t give them a victory celebration) but also how they take the dynamic of two rappers, one singer, a band and make it all work. I’ve already spoken at length about their debut album Renewable Energy which in fact led them to sign a deal that very night with Space City Records but we’re discussing their live set for now. Dallas Jones in person is scrawny but has a voice that easily is bigger than him. Once getting a feel for the crowd via “Standing Strong” (documented visually here), Brad James leaped into the crowd, making sure anyone within ear shot heard his raps. By the time Kyle Hubbard joined the band on stage for the album’s closer “In My Zone”, the crowd was more than won over, this blogger included.

Needless to say, when we made mention that we were giving three members of T.H.E.M. individual sets anticipation grew. Hollywood FLOSS started out with his alternative band, stringing together hits and tracks from his House of Dreams LP. Cloaked in a hoodie before revealing a t-shirt paying tribute to that random school girl from Vampire Weekend’s Contra album, FLOSS refused to go unnoticed, on numerous occasions encouraging the band to go harder and harder in their activity. FLOSS didn’t leave much time for the flames to be extinguished from his set before both John Dew & hasHBrown delivered a solid mix of old school soul samples and break neck lyrics that showed why both of them are major names coming from the city.

Any man that resurrects the great Phylis Hyman automatically gets a vote of approval but hasH stepped it up even further, turning what was once dubbed as a hip-hop showcase into a two stepping affair and women clutching to their newfound mates as if the Jett I. Masstyr had added “love connector” to his resume. Summertime Johnny continued letting the crowd have it before closing with thank yous to everyone that came out and was involved in the successful show.

By the way, that would be my smirking ass posted with The Hip Hop Effect’s Jeremiah G. Even though I was completely sober throughout, I felt a little high. Not only because of the event turning out to be a giant smash but that Houston’s new influx of talented artist are all rubbernecking for attention and will go to great lengths to create great art.

Photo Gallery below, shot by the amazingly talented Clyde Grant II.

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