Houston Rap Tapes: Telling the Story of a City
I mean, most poor people don’t even know they can do something… You don’t know. You don’t even know that you have recourse. And people ain’t been educated on fighting’ back unless it’s some street shit, like fighting your neighbors or beating up… fighting your family members, killing your best friend. And nobody like… fightin’ the government, the city. “What the fuck you mean, fight the city? You mean like… Houston against me?” —Willie D., Houston Rap Tapes
“Your city is only as big as the parts of it you allow yourself to see,” writes Lance Scott Walker in the preface to Houston Rap Tapes. Walker will be at Brazos Bookstore in Houston tonight at 7 p.m. signing copies of Houston Rap Tapes, the companion book to Walker and photographer Peter Beste’s documentary photo book, Houston Rap (excerpted in the January issue of the Observer). Walker will also be at Sig’s Lagoon in Houston tomorrow, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m., and at Farewell Books in Austin on March 1 at 1 p.m.
Houston Rap provided a window into Houston rap culture through the faces and stories of the producers, MCs, DJs, radio personalities and community members who shaped it. The photo-heavy book had room for only brief excerpts from nearly 10 years’ worth of interviews, so Houston Rap Tapes tells the rest of the story. The new book’s oral histories illuminate what Walker calls a “cross-section” of Houston hip-hop, and each person’s story reveals something about the larger story of Houston—and about the people and places that too often go unseen.
Though Houston Rap and Houston Rap Tapes offer a big picture of Houston, Walker notes that the picture is in no way complete. “I think there are a lot more stories to tell, and we’re successful if this encourages people to take another look into the history of Houston rap artists and learn more about the city. If you’re from the area or identify with the city, you end up learning about yourself along the way,” Walker says. “The great thing about finishing a project like this is that once it’s out in the world, it takes on a life of its own, and when that manifests in something that’s going to turn people on to the culture and the music, that’s good for everybody involved.”