Houston Bernard – Self/Titled (CD)

A queer Lords on Acid. Yup. Using a repetitive beat without much in the way of aural bells or whistles, Houston Bernard uses that same style (repetition) to pound eir’s first hit into your head. “Ride It Cowboy” is the Sheep on Drugs / Lords of Acid / Lolita Storm-influenced track that is probably the best known track by this rapper, “Str8 Actin’” uses the same style to pound another beat into the cranium of Houston’s listeners, and it is on this track where the first vestiges of ennui set in. When I’m listening to an innovator like Houston, I want each track to take me off in a completely different direction from the last one, and there just isn’t that much difference between “Ride It Cowboy” and “Str8 Actin’”. “U Smell So Nice” has a nice little aural googah and eighties Pet Shop Boys-influenced drum beat to work well with Bernard’s deep voice. One note: the programmable robot voice is stale. Stale as hell, and trying to do a track like that, “Whores Have More Fun”, is something that just really grinds the flow of the disc to a halt. Two things do pull “Whores” from the bin of mediocrity, and that is the nice aural dynamic that Houston’s voice has on the track and the interplay that ey has between the “male” and “female” programmed voices.

The female voice on “Oh Boy Relax” really makes this track into a mid-nineties dance track, quite possibly the catchiest of any of the tracks on this disc. “Lick, Suck, Dick, Fuck” benefits from the female voice as well, even if the chorus is a slight bit on the repetitive side. Overall, the production on this album is pretty impressive, considering I received my copy as a CD-R, with the tracks felt-markered on. Houston Bernard has a thing going with this electro-rap thing, and I do wish eir well, but I would also hope to see something more in variety from this artist, otherwise Houston might fall into a rut where ey could never get out of.

Perhaps Houston’s next album will be expanded to something resembling the average rap album – 10 or 11 strong cuts, along with 2 or 3 skits. If ey gets the right producers and provides enough differences in terms of lyrics on this new CD, I could see Houston getting some mainstream airplay.

Top Track: Ride It Cowboy

Houston Bernard – Self/Titled / 2004 Self-Released / 8 Tracks / http://www.houstonbernard.com / houstonbernard@yahoo.com / Reviewed 22 July 2004

Rating: 6.1/10

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