If everything in hip-hop dares to be digital and eat itself then Javon Johnson enjoys being analog. A sign of the past, all the way down to his moral upbringing and code for various outlets in life. He’s been fighting all of his life, hence why boxing is arguably his biggest hobby aside from having an outstretched rap personality. Javon Johnson knows Houston, particularly its East side where he’s battled life in good ways and bad. He left the city last year, with no regrets and a clear, singular focus. In other words, he may have a bit of Houstalgia but it won’t define him.

What makes Javon Johnson rather unique as a rapper is how he detours from what is considered the norm in the city. Sure, he’ll attach screw samples at the end of his records but he doesn’t ride with that pendulum rap style that populated the city for more than two decades. His baritone only hits a certain level and rests there until he feels like hitting stop. That’s why Houstalgia plays like it’s Side A of a tape. It’s only 11 minutes, packed with stream of conscious style raps where slugs are delivered tot hose Johnson feels has deserved them. He knows the linguistic appeal of being from Houston, but he’ll be damned if he has to re-experience the slight PTSD of growing up here.

Houstalgia features plenty of tied together words, similies, metaphors, political observations and nuances from a rapper who literally makes sure every letter in a word fits what he’s trying to explain. There’s no shortage of ethos within Houstalgia, just a sense of calm and controlled anger. It’s brisk and even could be considered an outlier of what Houston rap is now and how it feels more like MF Doom demo cuts and early Nas with the chipped tooth references. Johnson doesn’t believe in pleonasm. Either a word stick or it doesn’t, no need to emphasize on one topic and let a few words feel meaningless and light. Nope, it’s more hard-boiled raps from the East side of town. Stream Houstaliga from Javon Johnson below.

[Pigeons & Planes]