Houston has been a hotbed of Hip Hop acts for years which is why when people think of H-town, they think of Rap. A large part of any scene being a success is the availability of venues that can both showcase the scene’s brightest artists and allow space for the less seasoned performers to be able to hone their craft. Take Turnin’ Headz: Blank Canvas, a monthly showcase of Hip-Hop and Rap acts which, after a long stint at Mango’s, moves to The Mink. With it’s mixture of national, regional, and local talent, it’s a perfect example of the kind of laboratory this city offers the Hip Hop community. We hit up the epically bearded organizer, That Purple Bastard, to talk with him about the showcase.
FPH – First tell us about the showcase. You guys moved from Mango’s to The Mink but you guys have been putting this on for a while. How did the idea for the showcase first come about?
TPB – As artists in the scene, we became aware of a substantial lack of opportunities in the local scene. In order to get a proper show, you either had to “pay-to-play” to some shady promoter who really didn’t care about the local scene or you had to know the secret handshake to get into certain close knit circles. We realized that if we were frustrated by this lack of opportunities, then certainly there must be a lot of artists out there just like us and we were right! We pioneered an open forum where basically any type of “head” could get on and do a show. Where previous showcases had emphasized a certain brand of hip hop (backpacker, hood, etc.) we made a point of bringing these disparate elements together in one place with the aim of creating a scene as richly diverse as the artists that made it up.
FPH – You have a freestyling segment of the show. What has been the freestyle that blew your mind and which was so utterly horrible that you feel scarred for life?
TPB –At the beginning of our showcase, we were continually blown away by amazing freestyles from ordinary looking, unassuming people. Renzo, Loz tha Lyric3st, Bishop V Black, & Nikhoo come to mind as artists who cut their teeth with the Turnin’ Headz freestyle sessions who now do lots of actual shows and have made significant advances with their own careers. As for the bad, we have had a lot of that too, one that comes to mind was a young guy who earnestly recited a very recognizable Jay Electronica verse during the freestyle session.
FPH – Give us a quick rundown of who is performing tonight?
TPB –Herney and Young Sensation are local cats with a lot of buzz around them from the Northside/SF2/Kickback Sunday’s crowd. Herney just released a project entitled “Diary of a Young Black Male”. This is F Dot’s 1st show, I believe. I don’t know a lot about Gunna Gang, but Tygah Woods is a New Orleans hip hop super group led by Slangston Hughes, who we have brought to TH before.
TPB – I think serious artists and promoters in most cities share a desire to “take it on the road” and we try to find and link with like minded people on a person by person basis, no matter where they may be from. As a lifelong Houstonian, it surprises me that our strongest link has been with the Dallas hip hop community, but we really do enjoy going out there because the promoter is a really good person that always shows us love.
FPH – From all TH:BC shows you’ve put together, what has the one performer that just killed you?
TPB –There have been a lot. Most recently, we saw some amazing performances by Pyinfamous and Skipp Coon who we brought in from Jackson, Mississippi. A.D.D.+ from Dallas also blew us away.
FPH – OK, we’re here to pimp the show but I want to take a second to talk about your work as a producer just for a second. Tell us about how it started, who have been some of your favorite people to work with, and why you enjoy it so much?
TPB –I have been dabbling in production for about 10 years now and most of my hip hop production tends to fall on the experimental side since my tastes are across the board. I am also a trained and certified audio engineer. When I create, I never have hip hop strictly in mind, my music just comes out resembling hip hop most of the time. Lol. Creation for me is a spiritual act, so I am not really concerned with the commercial viability of anything I am doing, just with the feeling behind it. As far as who I like to work with, my main partner in crime has been Ensane, a San Francisco transplant MC who has his hands in most of the stuff I do. But really I love working with anyone and everyone as long as they are open minded.
FPH – You do a lot of remixes. What do you find particularly challenging and rewarding about creating remixes?
TPB –I love doing remixes because it allows me to take something I love (or hate) and try to make it greater, or just give it a different energy altogether. I recently remixed a whole project by Nasty Nique (of the group Dirty & Nasty) re-titled “Breakfast of Bastards”, it was a ton of fun to do and most people said it came out better than the original project. Even when I am just doing regular production, I prefer to start with an accapella that someone has given me and then build the beat around the vocal, so in a sense, remixing is my preferred mode of operating.
FPH – That’s quite a beard there. Is the rumor true that you have some kind of beard kung-fu that you learned from monks in the mountains of the Qinghai Province of China?
TPB –Yes, but don’t tell anyone. I have a running joke that I get asked about it at least once per day.
FPH – If you could sum up TH:BC shows in one word, what word would that be?
TPB –Free. (both literally and ideologically)
Thursday July 7th and ever first Thursday of each month
Turnin’ Headz: Blank Canvas, featuring Herney the Great, Young Sensation, Fullmetal F Dot, Tyga Woodz, & Gunna Gang @ The Mink, 9pm All ages, 21+ Free / under 21 $4