The city of Houston set the standard for independent rap back when the Geto Boys first dropped on Rap-A-Lot Records in the late ’80’s. It’s never been easy to make a splash in the music industry when you’re trying to jump in from outside of New York or Los Angeles. But an entrepreneurial group of young brothers from the city known only for it’s oil business and the NASA Space program took the rap world by storm. Their gritty, street reality tales showed the world a different side of Houston and the south in general. Before them, nobody knew that Houston was a wellspring of rap talent. After them, that wellspring blew wide open, and consumers hungry for realistic tales from the hood started looking to the dirty streets of H-Town for their fix.
A lot of groups have come and gone in Houston, and the local rap community has gone through some major up’s and down’s. There was a period of time when DJ Screw was still alive where local artists were not only able to survive as independent rappers, but were able to thrive. Then it slowed down a bit. It seemed like everybody from Houston was not only rapping, but had an independent label that was sure to be the next big thing. Of course many of these next big things sounded like the last big thing, and the big thing before that. That over saturation made it hard to see who really was set to be the next to blow out of Houston.
Well the fog’s beginning to clear, and that answer is no longer being clouded by a bunch of fakes. Ask anyone in H-Town who’s the next to blow and nine times out of ten you’re gonna hear the name G.R.i.T. Boys.
G.R.i.T. stands for Ghetto Reality in Texas (the "i" is small because there’s no "I" in G.R.i.T. Boys) and these boys are taking back the streets. Their raps are tough, smart and at times revolutionary. They’re not gangsta, but they’re definitely not soft. They’re not on some radio shit, but have the ability to come up with catchy hooks when the rhyme calls for it. And they’re not like anything you’ve heard in the Houston rap game before. These four distinctly different personalities -- Pretty Todd, Poppy, Scooby and Unique -- all came up on the south side of Houston and attended Worthing High School, though at different times. Scooby and Niq came up together and have rapped together since they were youngsters. Pretty Todd met Poppy through his work at Gameface Records which is home to Houston legends Hawk and Lil O. Todd was doing production and Poppy was signed to the label. But the funny story is the way Pretty Todd happened upon Scooby and Unique.
Scooby explains, "I got kicked out of Worthing and went to live with my father. I met Pretty Todd one day at my new school. He came in as a substitute teacher. I was making tapes and flowing in the cafeteria and some of the students told Todd about me."
"I walked into school and some of the students knew that I had produced for Lil Flip." Todd remembers. "And they were like ’aw you did some production for Lil Flip? You gotta hear Scooby!’ And I was like Scooby? Then I was expecting Scooby to be just some, ’Yeah I put it down.’ But he was different. At the same time in my life, I was trying to find where I’m comfortable with my music. So I gave him a beat and I didn’t even know if the beats were good or not. I just gave him something to write to." Pretty Todd has also produced for HSE, C-Note, Paul Wall & Chamillion, Hawk, Lil O and GT’s Key Players album.
Scooby says those were the best beats he had ever rapped on, and soon introduced his rhyme partner Unique to Todd, who brought the duo to Gameface and the G.R.i.T. Boys began to take form.
"When we all got together we started making the music we wanted to make," Poppy remembers, "rather than the music other people wanted us to make. We done came a long way. I think God do everything for a reason."
That reason just might be to turn all eyes back on Houston. The streets can’t get enough of the G.R.i.T. Boys and the G.R.i.T. Boys can’t stop giving it to them. Their relentless work ethic has landed them on more CDs than almost any other new group in the game.
They’ve appeared on Lil O’s Fat Rat Wit Da Cheese and Food on the Table CDs, Hawks latest disc and all of his undergrounds including Incredible Hawk, Bad Ass Mixtape and the Underground Shutdown series. They wrecked on some of the Color Changin’ Clicks most popular undergrounds including Bobby Booshay 1 & 2, Starvin’ Marvin’ and K-Mart Blue Light Special. And have also appeared on CDs from SLAB, Dolby D, Jimmy D, Paul Wall, Chris Ward, Big Pokey, Showtyme, Big Baby, Big Shasta and even Killer Mike from Atlanta.
They’re own underground releases Nuttin’ But W’s, Word on the Street and Heart of a Hustler sell out all over the nation and their first above ground release as a group is one of the most highly anticipated CDs in H-Town. They speak directly to the streets and the streets are listening.
"We represent the dudes that be at the house," Scooby explains, "you know what I’m sayin’, that’s scrapin’ up some change to get a cigar. Going in the penny jar to get a cigar. People that gotta wake up and cut the yard. We represent the dudes at home watching they partners on TV. That’s us. Everything we rap about, we rap about what we done seen, been through, it ain’t no make believe. That’s what it mean, Ghetto Reality in Texas. We not drive by shooting, we representing dudes that taking the ends off they bread. Eating a salami sandwich. Eating a banana that got the black all over it."
And they’ve found a whole lot of folks that are willing to listen. You need to be one too.