Tonight at Sway in Manhattan, JD and DJ Ayres will be spinning a release party for their extra-thorough new mix CD, Houston For Dummies - a wide ranging, perfectly constructed primer on local essentials and classic tracks from well before the Lone Star blew up nationally this past year. You might already know how Urrrs gets down from his parties and mixtapes as one-third of The Rub, but JD is no slouch on the decks either. A veteran of the Texas DJ scene, JD made a name for himself throughout the upscale black party circuit in his hometown of Houston, and single-handedly made Cabo Fridays the premier Hip-Hop club night on the Richmond strip. In 2004, JD relocated to Brooklyn, where he continues to throw down Southern bangers on the regular. After the jump, he talks about the records he and Ayres selected for Houston for Dummies, and you can hear the duo playing these joints and more this coming Friday on the FADER's East Village Radio show.
Geto Boys, Balls And My Word" (1988)
We start at the beginning. Geto Boy’s first album, Grip It! On That Other Level really put Houston on the map. We were all very proud of our city when this record came out. Scarface and Geto Boys kind of kicked off the whole fascination with the movie Scarface in rap music - Grip It! is full of Scarface samples. That “All I have in this world are my balls and my word” was used again on “Scarface” and its sequel, “Mr Scarface”
Scarface & Devin the Dude, "Southside: Houston, Texas" (1998)
This felt like a really good opener for me. It shouts out the different neighborhoods of Houston and it has two hometown favorites, the Dude and the true King of the South.
UGK, "Front, Back And Side to Side" (1995)
UGK, who are actually from Port Arthur, not Houston, were mainstays in the South for ten years before Jay-Z put them on "Big Pimpin". "Front, Back..." is probably their most classic jam - the organ driven beat, the call and response chorus, and the N.W.A sample just came together perfectly. You can play this 3 times in a night in Houston and it will still get an amazing response. Now that Pimp C is out of jail, there is no telling how big UGK will be.
Big Mike, "Playa Playa" (1994)
This was also a huge hit. It’s just really a smoothed out track with a soulful hook. Big Mike was in the Convicts and later in the Geto Boys.
Scarface, "Money And The Power" (1991)
The Geto Boys showed everyone that rappers from the South could make it on a national level, but musically Scarface’s solo albums were a lot more influential to rappers and producers in Houston. When he went solo, all of H-Town was behind him. Listen to that slowed down “UFO” sample and tell me ‘Face didn’t predict screwed music!
Slim Thug & Chamillionaire, "Still Tippin'" (2003)
The second version of “Still Tippin” was the hit that pushed Houston rap into the national spotlight last year, but with Houston for Dummies we wanted to dig a little deeper, so we went with the original Rap-A-Lot version featuring Chamillionaire.
Z-Ro, Paul Wall & Lil Flip "From the South" (2005)
You can hear DJ Screw’s ghost in this extremely slow track, which Z-Ro straight murders in double time. This is the only Lil Flip verse on Houston for Dummies – maybe next time.
Lil Keke, "Southside" (1998)
This is pretty much THE defining Houston club track. Lil Keke is the underground hero of Houston.
DJ DMD, Fat Pat & Lil Keke, "25 Lighters" (1998)
Love it, mayne. DJ DMD samples Al B. Sure on this track and Fat Pat (R.I.P.), DMD, and Lil Keke hold it down for all the hustlers.
Paul Wall & Chamillionaire, "The Other Day" (2002)
For years Paul Wall and Chamillionaire were the perfect duo. You won’t hear two rappers with better chemistry. They put out a gang of CDs and mixtapes before they fell out and dissed each other.
Wreckshop Family, "Power Up" (2001)
This Ecstasy anthem put Wreckshop back on the map following Fat Pat’s death. “Power Up” came out just before the national release of Big Moes’ hit “Purple Stuff.”
UGK, "Murder" (1996)
It was really hard for us to just pick a couple of UGK songs to put on our tape, but you can’t do a Texas tape without “Murder,” one of their most lyrical jams. DJing in Houston, there were always rappers in the club. Face, Slim Thug, all them were ALWAYS there…posted. Now they are so big it’s harder to get at them, especially since I moved to NY. So we ended up getting most of our drops from rappers backstage at Matt Sonzala and Oxy Cottontail’s tribute show for DJ Screw up here in New York. I was very excited to have them up here and spent like $500 at the bar, so we were drunk as hell. Bun B recorded a bunch of great drops for us but we accidently erased them off the minidisk. He was real cool about it and redid all of them for us.
Fat Pat - Tops Drop (1998)
Wreckshop Family’s Fat Pat is regarded as Houston's Biggie by ALL Houston rap fans. There are plenty of parallels: he was killed before he really had his time to shine, he was a brilliant writer with plenty of social commentary, very versatile styles, and obviously they were both kinda portly. The beat for “Tops Drop” is a sample is from Yarbrough and People’s “Don’t Stop the Music” and we almost left it off because it is a little too fast to mix with any of the other songs we wanted to use, but it’s such a special song that we felt like we had to make it fit.
E.S.G. & Slim Thug, "Getchya Hands Up" (2001)
This entire song is a call and response track, so playing this in Houston when it came out was huge. We could all feel that Houston might be blowing up, but we didn’t care about it on a national level. It just felt great to play all Houston and New Orleans music all night and clubs would go crazy.
Lil O, "Back Back" (2000)
As a member of DJ Screw’s group, the Screwed Up Click, Lil O put out this first single and it absolutely slayed listeners and clubgoers. This is a favorite of mine, and is one of the only tracks that I can recall a rapper calling somebody an “asshole” in a song.
Tela & Devin the Dude, "Drugs" (2000)
Tela is actually from Memphis, but is a honorary Houston resident. This beat is great – part "Perculator" and part "Nutcracker" - and the song is for the children.
Raheem, "5th Ward" (1992)
You probably don’t know this one if you aren’t from Houston. During this time, we were blown away that our neighborhoods were being shouted out on the radio and on wax by a local cat.
Odd Squad, "Fa Sho" (1994)
When Odd Squad came out, they were completely different than any other group. Lead by a blind rapper, they avoided a lot of the gun talk that was prevalent in most of the music coming out at the time. Odd Squad are certified underground legends and Devin’s first group. “Fa Sho” sets off what we affectionately refer to as the “pussy section” of Houston for Dummies.
Scarface, Too Short & Devin the Dude, "Fuck Faces" (1998)
This song really signifies Houston’s sound at the time. Pulling together two of Houston’s finest and Oakland legend Too Short, on a laid-back track that still gets clubs jumping consistently. “Exchanging fuck faces,” how romantic!
Hawk (Screwed Up Click), "U Already Know" (2003)
The game is to be sold not told. Screwed up Click member, H.A.W.K. explains to his “on the side” woman to relax a little and refrain from blowing up his spot. This was a large club hit for the growed and thowed.
Z-Ro, Juvenile & Devin The Dude, "The Mule" (2005)
‘06 is going to be Z-Ro’s year. This bluesy track is perfect for bragging on your dick, and your boys do not disappoint, bringing this section of the mixtape to a close.
Slim Thug & Young Jeezy, "Diamonds (Mannie Fresh Remix)" (2005)
Mannie Fresh and Jeezy take an already jamming song off Slim’s album, bring the tempo up a little for the club, and set us up perfectly for...
UGK, "Diamonds And Wood" (1996)
Point blank, we could not have made this mix without this song. The speed limit when you’re banging this out the slab is 12 mph.
DJ DMD ft Al B & DJ Screw, "So Real" (1997)
A lesser known DMD track for outsiders, this song captures the syrupy ride out sound of Houston. DJ Screw spits a screwed verse on this song. G’z in the city, so real.
DJ Screw & Lil Keke, "Pimp The Pen" (2001)
A DJ Screw classic. 3 N The Morningand June 27 were his biggest tapes. This song has been sampled by Houston artists more than any other track, straight off of cassette tape.
Paul Wall & Chamillionaire, "N Love Wit My Money" (2002)
Paww Waww and Chamillitary see right through these boppers trying to get in their pockets over an uncharacteristically triumphant horn sample. People compare Cham to 50 Cent nowadays but we like to remember him when he was a little sillier with the metaphors.
Bun B & Mddl Fngz, "4 In The Morning" (2001)
The track deceptively begins as a laid back R and B song, enter Bun B. Game over.