The Swishahouse Panel Through The Eyes Of OneHunnidt
Last night, Swishahouse held a panel discussing their legacy in Houston, their upcoming documentary and their SXSW showcase promoting the House from past to present. While most often find themselves enjoying what we have to offer, we lent the mic to noted rapper OneHunnidt to offer his first hand experience of the panel itself and what he soaked in from it.
Yesterday I spent my birthday attending the Swishahouse panel discussion at Rice University. Hella excited to be in the building, I anticipated a bunch of rappers in the audience and media people buzzing the room with coverage and bidding for the top stories. In all actuality, that wasn’t the case. There were very few artists in attendance (that I recognized) and the majority of the people that were there were either older cats paying homage to the movement or intrigued fans whom most likely grew up to Swishahouse tapes in the early 2000s.
I grew up on both the Nawf and Souf sides of Houston, so I was fortunate enough to experience the greatest of appreciation for talent on both hemispheres of the city and still remember most of the lyrics that molded me through adolescence from music from Wreckshop, SUC, Suave House, Rap-A-Lot and Swishahouse artists. H Tine music runs through my veins. Now fast forward years later, and try to imagine the excitement of a budding artist looking to reach the next plateau and getting a chance to experience a panel with Swishahouse legends such as OG Ron C, G Dash, Chamillionaire, Archie Lee, Lil Keke, and Michael Watts. It was almost like a press conference from the original Dream Team.
Based on a lot of the questions asked by panel attendees, one could tell that people were really hoping to gain insight on some of the things that Swishahouse clearly wanted less light on: beefs, financial losses, “how new artists can make it big”, you know the unimportant stuff. It was refreshing however to hear Chamillionaire speak on what went wrong between he and Paul Wall when they were beefing. That was something that had been rumored about and even had a segment on the “Beef DVD” series. Cham pretty much explained how it was petty differences that spread quickly out of control.
He wanted to spend more time focusing on shipping cds and doing the ground work business-wise and Paul seemed to often be out other places doing less work but still collecting 50 percent of their shared profits. To paraphrase Cham’s words, “I would get calls about Paul being out at this or that event and asked why I wasnt there when I was working. Then later he would call me asking for his check”. The story was lightened when Michael Watts interrupted to say, “Paul was working, it was public relations”. The crowd burst into laughter as Chamillionaire replied, “Public relations at the strip club?!”
I was intrigued to hear the thoughts of Lil Keke. To me, he has the longest track record of any rapper from Texas. Like, didn’t “Southside” come out in like 1997 or something? Often seen, yet seldomly heard in a formal sitting, Don Ke had alot to say about the music game, his role in Texas rap and also the controversial decision to join forces with the Northside juggernaut Swishahouse after repping the Southside and SUC for nearly 20 years. According to Keke, the move was made as a business decision that he reluctantly chose to accept. He knew all the backlash southsiders would bring him and that northside artists (who had not received the same opportunity) would bring to Watts and the Swishahouse.
In the end he didn’t even ask for a signing bonus to join, he wanted an opportunity to spread his artistry and the resources of the right movement to do so. He believed that he alone is the key to link the feuding northside and southside of Houston hip hop and could bring unity to the city as he was going to rep for both sides at the same time. He was right, and even more the move brought fans a Lil Keke Gansta Grillz mixtape and instant classic hits such as “Chunk Up the Duece”, brilliant. Lil Keke is a reminder of how important a passion for music really is. He touched on how he used to ride the bus to get to DJ Screw’s house just to record on Screw tapes that they didn’t even earn money for. He and Chamillionaire also explained how difficult the transition is going from free mixtapes to commercial albums and how the latter is so unenjoyable because executives place too much demand on the type of product that is release by artists, limiting the creative control of the process.
The Swishahouse panel event may seem small to some, but to me as an artist and fan, I left feeling as if I had just experienced a monumental occasion. Not so much for the questions or even the answers, but more for what the panel itself represents. Never before had I attended a free conference with those people and that subject matter on a “just because” basis. I left wondering what it would have been like to have had a similar panel with DJ Screw, Big Moe, Big Hawk, Pimp C and other original SUC members all there showing youngsters the ropes and explaining the ups and downs they faced as well. Last year I won Houston Press award for “Solo Rapper of the Year” and that was great but I’m definitely looking towards that next plateau and any guidance and wisdom that the veterans have to offer. It seems to be a current consensus in the Houston indie community that “we don’t allocate our resources towards building the city’s music scene past a certain glass ceiling of politics and payola.”
I’ve also witnessed rants where certain people don’t feel the old heads are putting on for the new generation. When asking a question regarding this topic, Lil Keke responded, “We want to help up and comers, but we wanna see what y’all gon do first”. Respectable response. Maybe the legends are grooming the new school to pay our own dues. Maybe the mistakes they faced in their journey is something that all artists have to endure to learn from experience. Hell maybe its just too damn many rappers right now and natural selection is going to eliminate the weak and only those really here for the right reasons will still fight and be here once its all said and done. I myself like what Swishahouse represents. To me it was a collective group of talent from rappers to DJs, all with the same dream to put on for their side, their city, and their click and they did it successfully.
Swishahouse bred Grammy’s and platinum selling artists. Michael Watts and OG Ron C are moguls in their own right and have laid a global imprint on rap and also Houston culture. To me, they were successful in keeping the Screw sound alive and well and have helped keep Houston on the minds of people across the world. I’m also thankful for the by-products of everything Swishahouse set forth, OG Ron C and the Chopstars “Chopped Not Slopped” my last project and it did wonders for my brand and my presence.
Last night’s panel served several purposes. To sum it up in three words, I’d say: insight, wisdom, and inspiration. Whoever put together the event deserves praise and the Swishahouse definitely needs to be placed in the Houston Hip Hop Hall of Fame (lets make one) for their contributions to the city, the culture, and the world of music. That is from a fan, protege and artist.