LOOKOUT LIST: UNDERGROUND BACKBONES OF TEXAS

Oh, brother! Get a load of this chick!

Yes, I have decided to open my mouth again. Fair warning, I may or may not spit some truth right now.

There are two types of people when it comes to listening to music for the first time; there are the people that listen to what the artist is saying, and there are people that listen to the main element that is tying the entire track together.

We’re talking production! Beats! Instrumentals! You picking up what I’m putting down? Of course you are.

On that note, I bet you’re wondering, but no. I am not going to tell you what kind of person I am because this is an un-biased and safe space for us to talk about musi-

I’m lying. I’m a production person, DUH!

I’ve done my fair share of research on well known engineers throughout the music industry. I mean, how many of us haven’t? We have magicians like J Dilla, RZA, Sylvia Robinson, 9th Wonder, Missy, DOOM, and…the list goes on, really.

My virgo moon is obsessed with lists and my Houston bred blood is in love with Texas, and now you all know I favor the engineers role in the industry much more than the others, so I decided to combine the three.

Saying it was a privilege of mine to round up just some of my favorite Texas producers, on the come up, has got to be the biggest understatement of 2019, but if we’re being real the biggest understatement of 2019 are engineers. PERIODT! Getting to know how, when and why these musically inclined humans even started doing what they do now was fairly entertaining and I only hope after this they will become some of your favorites too.

Processed with RNI Films. Preset 'Agfacolor 40's'

Now, you all know I had to find at least one woman to channel my inner producer through and I was ecstatic to find one who’s sound was so different from the others. Think of soft-core electronic that you can vogue to!

Deaf Girl is a producer residing in Dallas, but just because of this, it does not mean she pays any acclamation. Though, she does make music for just about any and everything. Some of her biggest inspirations, like Owl Eyes, Death Grips, and Blockhead, aren’t even in the lane that you and I are used to talking about. That just makes listening to her music that much more exciting.

It all started at 19 for her, she picked up playing guitar her last year of high school. The first production she did was trying to remake the drums of an indie song, so that she could play guitar to it all on her own. Since then, it’s been her only constant and the way she explains it, you’d think it’s the only thing in the world she adores and you see that her world gets jumbled…but in the most beautiful way! Even when explaining how she has no process when it comes to making music. It could start with a chord, a melody, a sound, a sample, etc. It’s usually a sound, a specific synthesized sound, that reciprocates the exact vibe and with that, she runs with it.

I’m yearning to manifest for Deaf Girl just by talking about her, and surely if I am, I know she is. Her free time has doubled to focus on music because, she’s what? Exhibiting manifestation! Playing shows? Producing more? Connecting more? This what we can look forward to from Deaf Girl. So, keep your eyes open and your ears peeled.

(Honorable Deaf Girl mention: Am I A Whore?)

PAJAMASAM

My Screwston heart palpitated when I came across Pajama Sam because not only does he pay homage to the city, but to some amazing ass creators. He’s so inspiring that he has no definite inspirations, he has the ability to get creative from something as simple as a 70’s lullaby and that, my friends, is what you call a mastermind in the making.

When Pajama Sam, Darien, was 9 years old he went on a school field trip. He was just minding his business until a rando handed him a demo CD. It was almost as if this was a hidden omen. When he listened to the CD he noticed some instrumentals and decided to start writing raps. He would spit them to the kids at the park and they all said “fuck this swing!” and listened to him instead. Now, he’s really doing something.

It wasn’t until high school he started to make beats because nobody could really capture the sound he wanted when it came to it. He bought an mpd drum, got familiar with FL Studio and just kept practicing until he found his own version of perfect. Nothing gives him the energy or drive that music gives him. Well, his procedure of finding something random, sampling it, then listening to it over and over gives him some kind of kick.

Pajama Sam was too good to pass up and I knew some of you would find him interesting and the things he has in store for the future is honestly much more interesting. He’s got a tape dropping with one of his homies, Mufasa Enzor, and I think it’s one of his best works to date…I haven’t heard it, but I just have a feeling. Stay tuned.

(Honorable Pajama Sam mention: i shot the mayor)

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So, let’s talk about duality now because this is one of those. Romelle, who goes by Romby, is not only a producer, but a RAPPER as well. The duality? JUMPED out. He went through many phases as an artist when it came to his inspirations and though he raps, the rap sound wasn’t always where he looked for guidance. He discovered creativity through the vibrations of drums, bass, 90’s dubstep and even UK garage. You know how sometimes you could be listening to Skream and then Knxwledge? Well…he can. This is where he drew most of his inspiration from, in engineering terms, but when it comes to his rhymes he is drawn to EDM and hip-hop.

The complexity in his music taste? JUMPED out. After learning this and going back to listen to his creations, I immediately noticed why his sound was so diverse.

Since he was only in elementary school, Romelle has looked for creative outlets and just like wine, his talent has aged beautifully. He seems to be an individual that admires the feeling of nostalgia; mentioning a game he played growing up where he could create songs just out of snippets of music, then eventually leveling up to garageband in his early teen years. And yes, it was when he was going through the Tyler, The Creator phase we all went through at some point. Even when he said one of his favorite projects he’s made, “Janus the Two-Faced God”, was tied to unforgettable people and moments it was plain-sailing down the route of sentimentality.

Just like (almost) every artist, there is a routine when it comes to creating. All different, but still valid. Romelle’s was interesting to me, as it included clearing his head and palette by cleaning his space, lighting incense and deciding what would be the best place to start. From scratch? From a sample? How is he going to set the tone of what is to come out of his next creation? As if producers don’t already seem like mad scientists.

Now, if you read this halfway and decided to listen to his stuff (which I’m sure you did, and if you didn’t, you better.) then you’re probably thinking “WTF? Why isn’t there anything newer?” Calm down. We can all expect a solo tape from Romby, that will include him showing off his duality, very soon.

(Honorable Romby mention: The Method)

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Another Houston producer? Yes, I know, I could not help myself. Tony is special! His sound is very significant and, my, my, my. So are the people who have helped him found his way.

A Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla, Madlib, Alchemist, HouseShoes and basically everyone on the Street Corner Music record label. You know what these people and Tony have in common? They all made music they wanted to listen to all while still staying true to who they were.

At 13, Tony picked up the guitar thanks to his dad, who was heavily involved with music. His father is the whole reason why he even loves music as much as he does, I mean if you had a dad who sang and played guitar at home, I’m sure you would too. Tony’s older brother is the real reason he’s into hip-hop though. Older siblings are great at one thing and one thing only, and that is to introduce you to things you had no clue about.

Naturally, Tony’s favorite work of his own is a hip-hop/rap album, Navy Bluehe worked on with a special Port Arthur rapper I mentioned previously. It was nothing short of beautiful, it was raw to it’s core and the hard work that was put into it comes out after every listen.

Tony is currently working on a project called SELF LOVE that he, you, and I should be very, very excited about. He hasn’t set a release date, but it should be out soon enough to satisfy our musical tastebuds.

(Honorable Tony Dark mention: Untitled)

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  • Sage – San Antonio, TX

Not the stuff you rid your environment of toxic energies, but…I mean…his music basically provides the same doing. Just like a breath of fresh air, Sage’s sound is exhilaratingly novel and we can thank The Neptunes, Timbaland, Missy Elliot and basically every (early) west coast producer that roused him. These are just a few names that have helped Sage down his music path, being in a city where local music is almost everywhere, it’s been easy for him to get a little guidance.

For as long as he could remember, Sage wanted a to find any way to express himself. In 2008, he saw and used a drum machine and after that it was history, but 2012 was the year he really decided to buckle down and get momentous with his passion. He was in college and found out he was able to obtain a music business degree. So, fuck it! Right?

He wasn’t like everybody though, the magic touch had to be learned, it was not gifted. He takes pride in this though because his process is his own and that’s something no one can take away from. His formula still hasn’t been perfected, but I think that’s the sincerity in it and if music is going to be good, it has to be sincere. Just like his partnership with his musical partner, Reek. The ideas they have bounce off of each other the same way that peanut butter and strawberry jelly taste good together.

Even Sage couldn’t resist saying his project with Reek, Chapter 2WO, was extremely special to him. The magic they made was solely based on their energy. He just knew it was going to be one for the books and I can wholeheartedly say I agree. For him the entire process of it was a learning process and now he knows exactly what needs to be done to excel for what’s in store.

“What’s in store?” you ask. You can expect a follow up album to Chapter 2WO and music with various local San Antonio artists. The amount of gratitude he has for it is immense and I hope you keep that in mind when keeping up with him and his work.

(Honorable Sage mention: Type2)

xanaxfanclub

If his name didn’t intrigue you at first like it did to me, then…what the hell? XANAXFANCLUB, or John, whichever doesn’t make your mom turn her head twice when saying it out loud, has only been out here since 2014 making music. After hearing what I have though, you’d consciously think otherwise. He’s been making music with almost all of his friends that are involved in the same scene as him, such as Mateo Sun, 80s Blonde, Izaq Roland, and more recently Southsidehoodlum.

He loves music so much that at first, he wanted to be a rapper. When looking up to people like Timbaland, The Neptunes, and Lex Luger can you really blame him? Seeing his people get unruly just to something he made in his living really gets him going though. So much, that this year has been all about creating more content for him.

Speaking of John and creating, he is constantly looking for samples and listening to random things on the internet. He likes for his art to reflect his own mind, dark and gruesome and I love it. We appreciate the real. We need the real. A lot of the projects John has previously worked on have been real and…very catchy. There aren’t many, but the ones that are out in the open deserve to be duly noted.

Just because there aren’t many projects now doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future. Coming to another streaming service near you, XANAXFANCLUB has plans on releasing a production album and finally releasing things he’s been keeping in the vault. He is also hoping to put on for his city and…bring Kirko Bangz back. As if we really need that right now.

It wouldn’t hurt, I guess.

(Honorable XANAXFANCLUB mention: OJ)

por_vida

Last, but never least and definitely not simple, like the facade his stage name gives off…

Por Vida, who occasionally goes by Joey, started making beats when he was a freshman in high school. He had been using GarageBand on his mom’s laptop, like any wannabe music producer, until a friend introduced him to FL studio. During this time it was the Datpiff era and the music that came from it inspired him to take music production a lot more serious.

He found innovation through people like Tyler, The Creator, Madlib, J Dilla, Clams Casino, Black Metaphor, Knxwledge, and Pierre Borne. So many different sounds and so many different elements that each carry, this could be said for the previously mentioned artists, but I’m actually talking about Joey’s music.

Not one track sounds like the other, and I think it has a lot to do with his endless sample digging and the method to his madness. I don’t know anyone else that lights a candle and drinks Sunny D all whilst trying to relax before sitting down and staring at a computer screen for 3+ hours, but it really fucking works.

One of his favorite projects he’s worked on was one of his own. A collective EP of 10 flips that goes by only nineties kids, which was a tape he made in 2017 right on the brink of when he started to get some of the attention he deserved (and still deserves). The aptness he carries to appreciate every single genre of music is notable, just like his discography. 

Once you get as hooked to his sound as I have, you should be excited to know that Por Vida himself will be releasing more content, collaborating with more artists, getting his name in front of as many people as possible, and hopefully traveling to Costa Rica one day so he doesn’t look like a poser when he explains his stage name to people.

(Honorable Por Vida mention: lonestar waltz)

Look, if you don’t go tell your producer you appreciate them right now then go ahead and do that before I do, or better yet, before someone like Blueface does! Their artistry needs to be paid much more attention to.

And I know you know it, so show it.

-MelodyCritic

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