The city to be reckoned with this year in Hip-Hop is without argument Houston, Texas. With artists surging the market in various cameos, videos, and documentaries; everyone is getting a taste of the H-town.
As newer artists like Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, or Short Dawg rise, one could wonder what inspired these young gentlemen to rap. Although it may not be well-publicized, Houston has been putting it down for over 20 years. In order to bring light to its colossal backdrop, so often missed by random media, we decided to sit down with South Parks own K-Rino.
With dozens of albums that most stores dont carry, many would cast K-Rino as unknown or uncut, but those H-Towners in the know call him a legend.
AllHipHop.com: K-Rino, Worst Rapper Alive, what brought about that title?
K-Rino: A lot of cats out here claiming to be the best, the coldest ever, with all the rappers in Houston. I was not satisfied with it; I figured if thats the best, I would call myself the worst. I didnt want to be associated with some of those rappers out there; I called mine the Worst Rapper Alive.
AllHipHop.com: Scarface, Z-Ro, and Chamillionare have all shouted you out in interviews, songs, etc. Why do they have such respect for you?
K-Rino: Well, one of the reasons man because I have been doing it so long. I am one of the first dudes in Houston that was doing anything. A lot of them cats that come up in the game, they grew up listening to my music. I think the content has a lot to do with that also. I put a lot of reality in my songs. Ro, Face, all them cats you named they always show me love, they listen to my music. I am a fan of theirs, as they are fans of me. All three of those cats are [some of] the few people in Houston that I can grasp.
AllHipHop.com: Please, go over your history as rapper in Houston; South Park Coalition, Street Military, and so forth
K-Rino: Well, all that formed in 86 and 87, when I was in high school. We were trying to organize all the MCs from my side of town, as we started growing getting a little more popularity; we accepted people from anywhere. As long a you could rap, DJ, had some skills you could be a part of [South Park Coalition]. Klondike Kat was in Street Military and he was doing a lot of work with Street Military at the time. Other people came in because they were brought in, now we are affiliated worldwide. We got affiliates in London, Georgia, Germany, anywhere you name, we are worldwide.
AllHipHop.com: Explain the drive behind your work as a young artist. Was it for monetary reasons?
K-Rino: Monetary was the last thing, we were just doing it for the love. Ive been making records since 86, that was the era of Run-DMC, Whodini, Fat Boys. So, we were doing it for the love, we didnt even view ourselves as being able to do it at the level we were going at. I was just getting started anyway, so I wasnt even developed as a rapper yet. My skills was at the point to where I was like, I like to do it; I would like to make a record and I did it. We got a little buzz out of it. Money was not even in the equation, we would battle on the street corners and get into rap contest. We were just doing it for the love, we rather just have a trophy than little money you get if you win the rap contest.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people outside of the South are bad-mouthing the artists and the songs, calling them simple, gimmicky, and so on. How do you feel about Southern Hip-Hop?
K-Rino: Well, I agree with them. We getting a bad rap. Houston got a reputation for being a hot city from the mainstream point of view. People are saying its simple, its bubblegum rap, lollipop rap, they not talking about nothing, and thats true. I am from the first wave: The Rap-A-Lot days, Street Military, when it was underground when I would travel out of state people would tell me they were heavily influenced by it. Regardless, if you were talking about how good you rap it was still done in a skillful way to where people walked up to me and ask what happened. If you 16 or 17 years old, you dont remember that now. It was drop-off to me because I remember a time when Houston was known for skills; thats what we trying to bring back, so I agree with them when they say that.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think attributed to the decline in lyricism of Southern Hip-Hop?
K-Rino: Number one, weve never gotten any radio. New cats coming up, they dont get a chance to hear us. The ones that do get a chance, they older brothers and sisters used to jam us back in the day. The fact of the matter is that Houston took a drop off in the mid-90s, it was a lull. The political rap and even some of the gangsta rap started getting weeded out and materialism kicked in. Boys was talking about they watches and they cars and they rims, they this and they that. It was done in a bubble-gum way and they just weeded out the real. You got a lot of these radio cats that dont respect the game and dont respect the history of the city. You got a dude like Big Mello, a dude that when he passed away, you got kids that dont even know who he is, this man is a legend in Houston. The powers that be in the city didnt rep him right when he was vertical, now that he horizontal they want to play your music for one day and try to make it look like they been there all along. We cant blame the fans, I blame the people who were in positions to get the music to the fans.
AllHipHop.com: We talked about the title, now tell us about the album, Worst Rapper Alive
K-Rino: It was cool, I wanted to stick with the theme of the title, as far as saying the worst rapper alive. I had to include a bunch of cuts on the album where I was displaying some lyrical skills to dispel all that and to make people laugh when they hear it. I put a lot of songs on that record. I had been dropping albums with 14 songs. It came out good, I was real satisfied with how the record came out. Its just a situation where you are dealing with local media / local radio, that dont respect the real, but the streets have always held it down; thats all I go by.
AllHipHop.com: Ive listened to the album about five times myself. I was expecting to see an appearance by Z-Ro on there, what happened with that?
K-Rino: Just timing, schedule man. Me and Ro, we work together, but he was doing his own thing. On the new one I dropped, me and Ro got a cut on there. It just be timing, man. Weve discussed doing an album together. We left [Big] Hawks wake and it was a perfect example of what I was talking about and all these people out here covering Hawks wake, but, he wasnt getting these flowers while he was alive.
AllHipHop.com: Correct me if I am wrong, but it was MTV or somebody that came to Houston and did a show on Houston artists and they didnt interview you or other Houston pioneers. Why do you think that is?
K-Rino: It all goes back to what I said: if you are in a city, and half built-up a history and a tradition, and then that city starts growing and that spotlight gets put on them and somebody wants to do a story on that city, the first thing that is supposed to happen is the history of that city and the people who help lay the foundation for whatever it is now; those people have to be acknowledged! I am not necessarily saying it would have to be me, but it would have to be somebody that represented my organization and somebody that represented an organization or an artist that came before me, they didnt mention Willy Crickett on the piece, they didnt mention Jazzy Red on the piece. A whole bunch of artists that I grew up listening to that if you are going to come down here and call yourself doing a history on Houston, you could have mentioned certain names. Yeah, it was a slap in the face that didnt mention South Park Coalition or Street Military; that was a slap in the face. They didnt even really feature the Geto Boys like they should have, in my opinion. Whatever the reason behind that, I dont know, but you going to do something make sure you do it right, thats all I am saying. These streets out here is serious, man, and you running out here going through the streets and getting information about stuff like that, youll mess around and come across somebody who was really in the game, and you might not make it back to your city, behind disrespecting the things that came and laid the foundation in that city. I was upset about it from one point of view, but then I understood it from another point of view, because I know how the politics of the game is. But we underground, so we aint trippin.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about the music that sells as it relates to society? What does that tell you about society?
K-Rino: What it is man, is conditioning, the radio stations, the TV shows, the magazines, they have influence on what people want to hear. Its like make songs jamming that aint jamming. They tell you well this guy is going to be the next hottest dude, they run the dude video on MTV 40 times a day. They make you think, Okay, he must be jamming. They dictate that type of stuff. So, of these guys that sell these records, it aint necessarily the best album, he aint necessarily the best artist, they put a lot of weight behind him. That dont really bother me because I am not going to knock the artist for it because he is getting his he is getting his money. All I can tell the artist is, Okay, look here, man, step outside yourself and make sure that you hold up to your responsibilities to these streets and these fans and say some words thats going to affect people in a positive way because words are powerful. I was telling Ro the same thing, all these cats that got these major deals, they going gold then going platinum. I told Ro, you are the ghetto gospel, they sell these records but these streets is really into him. Ill take the streets any day over the mainstream, so it dont bother me. If I can set up in an office with a bunch of white folks and they smiling and grinnin with me and telling me how pleased they are with the project and all this good stuff, thats good and fine. However, it means more to me to walk through 3rd Ward and some Gs out on the cut telling me how they respect the song I made or the album I put out last week or last year, thats what means more to me, man. I want my people, I am not worried about nothing else.
AllHipHop.com: Any final comments?
K-Rino: Go get the album, Time Traveler, you know. If you want to get any of my music, come to www.SouthParkCoalition.com and check me out on www.myspace.com/spckrino. Keep God first and death to the bootleggers, man. A lot of downloading, bootlegging going on. Boys got to respect the game, man.