doughbeezy-footprints-on-the-moon

Doughbeezy, in the calm before the storm.

By now, you know Doughbeezy – merchandise magnet, constant feature on your favorite rap blog whether regional or national, the “other” guy with the “murders you on your own shit” tag. But you don’t know anything about his upcoming third mixalbum Footprints On The Moon. Our Cecilia Smith went to Studio 713 earlier this week to sit in on something that was almost sworn to secrecy – until now.

Much has changed since I originally met Houston’s swift spitting Doughbeezy in 2011. So impressed was I, after witnessing him overshadow the headliner of a show that he was merely an opener for; that I went backstage to formally introduce myself, and the “Southeast Beast” became a name that began to blink often upon my radar.

In the two years since, that same musical charisma that first attracted my ears has hooked an entire following; elevating him from local beat assassin to regional hero. Now two projects in, the foundation laid by his previous efforts is strong enough to build a bridge to national success; and the highly anticipated Footprints on the Moon could very well be that bridge. Each step tells a story, and even in this one on a late February night – there’s a story behind these steps as well.

“Now when people tell me I’m gifted/I tell em…it comes with curses”
“All Eyes on Me”; Footprints on the Moon

It’s the double edged sword of the game; with increasing fame comes new fans … and additional scrutiny. But thus far, Doughbeezy has successfully avoided the crab-in-a-bucket strangle that has choked so many others. Already gaining a reputation for being a consummate professional, he has essentially mastered the art of likability: combine your musical efforts on stage, your natural charisma off it. It’s essentially difficult not to like the guy.

Just at the cusp of a breakthrough, the same crowd that will praise a new artist will also question if they are deserving of the attention being given to them. Is he really that good? Is he truly ready to carry the Houston banner on a national level?

As always, he just allows the music to speak for itself.

“And you haters make me vomit/So this time I’m gon treat y’all like these niggas that pay for YouTube views, you get no comment.” 
“Grind All Day”; Footprints on the Moon

Yet as high as the anticipation surrounding this new project is, if there is any pressure to be felt he gave no clear indication of it on a February night, as we sat within Houston’s well-known Studio 713. Despite his furious flow on stage, in person he maintains a laid back and affable demeanor; easily making each member of the room feel welcome and creating an almost kick-back atmosphere.

But make no mistake about it, even in a room full of mixed conversations, laughs and the finest of cannabis, work is being done. When his assistant/behind the scenes “Jill of All Trades” Lauren enters the room to advise that the producers have arrived, it’s time to get to it. The relationship between them is ebb and flow, Dough sees the direction, Lauren makes certain the ship stays exactly on his course. For Doughbeezy, life moves fast these days, a string of shows, interviews and studio sessions. Yet he never misses a beat, calmly rolling his sweet before rising to acknowledging the two young producers that have now entered the room.

It’s time for the magic to begin.

WALKING ON A DREAM

Words: Cecilia Smith / Images: Cecilia Smith
Above: Doughbeezy sharping his mind during an interview. Below: Kicking back brainstorming.

Above: Doughbeezy sharping his mind during an interview.
Below: Kicking back brainstorming with CodeRedd & i2Redd.

FOTM has been a long time coming. The success of his first two releases brought in additional fans, and their pleas for a new project could no longer be ignored. This tape (the third following his Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid all freestyles tape and last year’s solid follow up Blue Magic) stands to potentially kill two birds with one sharply-thrown stone: appease his original fans and provide a formal introduction between him and the rest of America.

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when I know there are footprints on the moon.”
– Paul Brandt

Richie McDonald’s “Footprints On The Moon” single webs its way into country folklore. The quote is more than yearbook fodder and following a chance encounter with a fan, it would be the same phrase that would inspire Doughbeezy – neé Tai Carr – as well.

“I followed a fan back (via Instagram) and that was her quote. I was looking for a title and that was it,” explains Dough before breaking down the naming process behind his prior releases. He’s clad in comfortable attire tonight: black beanie (though surprisingly not one of his own), black crew neck and camo shorts. He’s taken to rocking more jewelry these days but for this session, he’s about as demure as you can be. Less superstar, more H-Town rap yeoman.

“I would listen to Wiz’s ‘Kush & OJ’ but we wasn’t balling like Wiz back then, so we would say ‘Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid’ instead.” he affirms. “Blue Magic was inspired by [Denzel Washington’s] ‘American Gangster.’ Everyone was hooked on it, it was a brand name. I kind of feel like my brand is Blue Magic. Didn’t nobody really know who I was, but everyone knew to expect good quality.”

Producers CodeRedd and i2Redd, winners of the recurring Houston-based “Space City Beat Battle” and handpicked by Dough himself, sit side by side. As they pull up beat after beat, the room pulsates and heads nod in unison, indicating which one could potentially be that beat.

Dough stands behind the soundboard, approachable yet contemplative. His mouth moves silently as he paints unwritten rhymes over these potential beats. He apologizes for the late hour – we don’t mind, we’re just here to indulge in new material like a kid in a candy store – and moves over to his laptop.

Showtime.

“All Eyes On Me” p. Carlos
The title might pack vivid images of ‘Pac bouncing around on Johnny J’s loop and Big Syke with a heavy baritone dropping that timely, “So much trouble in the world…” but instead it’s Dough escaping regionalism behind Carlos’ rather laid back, infectious production.

“Grind All Day”
An early personal favorite. Dough manages to combine the fun boldness of a rowdy club track with witty bars and wordplay.

“Riding Around”
In Dough’s eyes, this may be the potential lead track. Dark & sinister unlike the haunting “Grind” from Blue Magic, it could coldly be the first Beezy track we universally sit up and become stuck with almost from the opening chord.

“It Go Bang” (f. Killa Kyleon)
“Even MTV couldn’t blur me out!” Southern fried goodness. Given that he & Killa bounce off one another like CP3 & Blake Griffin, this has summer with boppers and candy cars written all over it.

Like most rappers, Doughbeezy isn’t settled with just one hotly anticipated release – he has three of them. The sequel to Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid is coming along with the behemoth that will be Watch The Chrome, a Texas offshoot of Jay-Z & Kanye West’s Throne album with Killa Kyleon. There’s a tour in the works already and the two have already stamped the union with a slew of “Throne” inspired t-shirts and a massive concert held at Fitzgerald’s during All-Star Weekend.

For now, FOTM is the main course on the menu – a complete Doughbeezy release, full of creative and detailed lyrical content and aided by notable, worthy features. Conceivably, it could be the tape that shoots the Southeast Beast out of orbit. He’s still humble about it, taking few pauses to carefully get out his thoughts and smiling throughout. Every sentence comes out with a sort of gravity attached and Dough, not one for brevity when discussing his potential, remarks on that.

“I’m at a point where I want my records to be bigger now; have a little more fun, and take it from a regional to a national level. This is me putting my own footprints on the moon.”