All it took to peak our interest was the name “Hip Hop Book Club”. We needed to have an installment of their ridiculously dope event, here. Like, right now. After a collaborative Houston edition of the one-of-a-kind book club had footing, choosing an album to center the event around was the toughest part.
We wanted a way to show a bit more of what Hip Hop Book Club really is. Thanks to our Hustlegrade team and a few really dope K.R.I.T. fans who showed up to #HHBCHTX to discuss and revisit K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, we have an array of input regarding Hip Hop Book Club's stop in Houston!
Kelsey McDaniel - Hustlegrade
K.R.I.T. Wuz Here is the spark that lit my inspiration for seriously writing about music and is special to me in the most personal, life changing way imaginable. As December 9th got closer, my excitement was becoming a strange onset of nerves. After social media researching and asking friends, I still didn’t have a complete grasp on what Hip Hop Book Club was going to feel like. And this album? This one? I needed this to feel good. Every defining moment of my adult life has come since K.R.I.T. Wuz Here was released, it had become a sound track for my path to fulfillment. In my mind, I had studied for this event over the entire last seven years of living, with K.R.I.T. Wuz Here at my side. But my goodness when December 9th came, I was nowhere near ready to discuss the album with a room full of people.
Alley Kat feels like home. My Hustlegrade team is family. HHBC co-founders Attah Essien, Sobe Ibekwe, Kenny Reeves and Terrance Lee all have a genuine air in the way they carry themselves. From an empty front room bar to a tightly packed lecture ambiance, the book club's resident selector DJ iLL Tommie graced the speakers with every K.R.I.T. song needed to calm my nerves, even the more obscure joints. As the time came for discussion, my heart was racing again. Did anybody feel like I did about K.R.I.T. Wuz Here? Was I going to sound crazy?
Then the guys began to breakdown the pillars of the book club. Influence, visuals, production, and lyrics. Followed by the rules of the book club; respect the house, respect the mic, respect the music. It was like I had finally shown up for class and all of my years spent studying hip hop and K.R.I.T. Wuz Here specifically, was finally useful in an educational setting. Listening to an album on repeat for weeks at at time had unexpectedly prepared me for something. Somebody tell my momma that we made it.
Hip Hop Book Club's co-founders are indeed pillars. They each spoke of their respective connections to an album that I hold in very high esteem, in such a personal way. As the floor opened up for discussion, the tone of introspection and comfort the front men set extended to anyone who touched the mic. Everyone who shared their thoughts did so candidly with an open heart and mind. Even in a room filled with those who clearly share a similar connection to K.R.I.T., I was nervous every time I spoke. The good kind of nervous that only comes from sharing absolute truths and crazy introspective portions of my experience with an album that molded me, in room full of people.
Prior to the event, upon discovering that Big K.R.I.T.'s breakout project would be discussed, I immediately revisited K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and started to reminisce on the days when the album first came out. I really loved the Four Pillars (Influence, Production, Lyrics and Visuals) element of the book club and how they were discussed.
It was great to hear how so many different people were able to connect to this album in a lot of ways that I did. I look forward to another Hip Hop Book Club because it offers a platform where music has the chance to do what it does best: bring all kinds of unique people with different perspectives together for enjoyment and reflection.
Merique King - Hustlegrade
Hi. My name is Mer, and I’m a Big K.R.I.T 'Stan'
Now that that’s off my chest..
I do my best to keep my biases in check but after spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon at one of your favorite establishments in Houston talking about one of your favorite albums from one your favorite rapper ever renews a kind of fandom reminiscent of pressing play for the first time.
That’s how I felt after the intimate, open discussion in a room full of K.R.I.T heads like myself during Hip Hop Book Club's visit to Houston to discuss K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. Considering his special connection to this city, the gentlemen of the Hip Hop Book Club made the right move when choosing K.R.I.T.'s groundbreaking album for their popular open forum/ kickback in the H. The December 9th event started off with an all Big K.R.I.T set from DJ ill Tommie. It’s no secret that it’s hard to come by a DJ throwing cuts from a Krizzle album into a party mix. One minute I’m cracking jokes with my girls and the next I’m rapping until I run out of breath.
The music turns down, the mics come up and we go around the room sharing personal experiences with the album that put this phenomenal artist on the map. For me it brought back memories of being brand new to Houston, falling deeply in love with a sound that I felt comfortable putting faith in. One of my favorite parts of the experience was getting a chance to re-visit K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. With the abundance of music constantly being put out it gets easy to shelf an album, even if you consider it a classic. Preparing for this event had me blasting “Just Touched Down” through the city like it was 2010 all over again. I listened with new ears and caught gems that 20 year old Mer either missed or just hadn’t been through enough to understand.
HHBC’s front men facilitated perfectly, they kept the energy going and asked the burning questions that us K.R.I.T fans have been dying to answer. After the discussion, it was time for giveaways; two tickets to the upcoming K.R.I.T concertas well as a K.R.I.T. Wuz Here vinyl record that yours truly won! I told you I don’t play about Justin Scott. All in all it was an extremely unique and inviting event that I was honored to be apart of.
Kelly Young - Hip Hop Book Club Attendee
I was introduced to Hip Hop Book Club thanks to a GroupMe chat of music lovers. The founders of HHBC are active in the chat and began promoting their discussions of important hip-hop albums. I was so glad when they announced that they were finally bringing HHBC to Houston, and it was even better that the topic was K.R.I.T. Wuz Here because it’s a mixtape that makes me really proud to be from the south. The discussion was very well laid out and guided with four main themes: visuals, lyrics, production, and overall influence. However, naturally when casually discussing hip-hop, people will go on tangents or digress, and that was embraced by the discussion leaders.
The best part of being in the room was that it didn’t feel like I was surrounded by a bunch of strangers. We all came for the love of hip-hop and we treated each other like old friends. Everyone was incredibly respectful and encouraging, even when disagreeing, and there was no intimidation factor. Typically in hip-hop discussions, I find myself in a room full of men ignoring what I have to say, talking down to me, or assuming I don’t know the history. That day in the HHBC discussion there was a good balance of both men and women, and all were treated as equals. As we went around the room discussing the first time we were introduced to Big K.R.I.T.’s music, I felt the kind of sense of belonging that can only come from sharing a true passion with a group. That feeling can’t be manufactured, and Hip Hop Book Club expertly delivered that organic experience to Houston.
Justina Hay - Hustlegrade
Hip Hop Book Club finally touched down in Houston December 9th. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and KRIT was bangin' through the speakers down Travis. I’ve been following Hip Hop Book Club for some time now but even knowing a bit of what to expect was nothing compared to experiencing it. DJ ill Tommie kept the bangers coming, digging deep into K.R.I.T.'s discography from K.R.I.T. Wuz Here to his most recent release 4Eva Is a Mighty Long Time. People began to filter into Alley Kat a few at a time, first to arrive were friends and associates of HHBC or Hustlegrade, and day-one fans of Big K.R.I.T. As the room began to fill up, HHBC co-founds Kenny, T. Lee, Sobe and Attah, a collective of swagged out hip hop enthusiasts, introduced themselves and the four pillars of HHBC. It was truly fascinating to hear so many different perspectives on the project. During discussion on the production pillar I learned about some of the samples used for K.R.I.T. Wuz Here blues influenced tracks. We collectively praised Big K.R.I.T’s growth as an artist and spoke on how we became fans of his music during the influence pillar. At one point we even debated whether he was a better with a label backing him or as an independent artist. While most of the attendees shared, the few that were there to observe remained thoroughly engaged. Nobody was made to feel left out whether day ones fans, casual listener, speaker or listener. Overall the K.R.I.T. Wuz Here Hip Hop Book Club exceeded my expectations. It was a dope event coordinated flawlessly, and they left no topic uncovered.
Reggie aka "MadBlkMan" - Hip Hop Book Club Attendee
From the moment I stepped into the Alley Kat and heard the DJ spinning nothing but Big K.R.I.T. records I knew it was going to be a good experience. It is not often that I find myself in a room with other passionate K.R.I.T. fans to talk authentically about the music of Justin Scott and why it is so pivotal to the hip hop culture. Even beyond just talking about the music, the opportunity to hear how K.R.I.T.'s music affected other fans gives me insight on how his music is being consumed and makes me hear his music with a new perspective.
For true hip hop fans, the Hip Hop Book Club is an experience I would rank just as high as a concert experience. The ability to breakdown the music and understand the why behind the what from a group of different people adds value to the music in ways many don't get the opportunity to appreciate.
Thank you Hip Hop book club and Hustlegrade for putting on a dope event for the city of Houston.
Bradford Howard - Hip Hop Book Club Attendee
Usually when Houston and Dallas link up, it can be drama or even rivalry afoot. But when Dallas brought their Hip Hop Book Club to Houston for the first time, it was an incredible meeting of rap fan minds. Co-hosted by Houston creative collective Hustlegrade, Hip Hop Book Club HTX focused on Big KRIT's debut project, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. For an hour and a half, attendees discussed the artist govern-mentally known as Justin Scott and the influences, experiences and motivations that went into K.R.I.T. Wuz Here.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about it, was seeing people from so many different areas, appreciate so many of the same things. It was not only a great collaboration, but an awesome tribute to the power of rap music being able to bring people together. It was the first - but definitely hopefully not the last - HHBCHTX.
Endless amounts of gratitude couldn't convey how much we appreciate Gaylon, Kelly, Reggie and Bradford for joining us at #HHBCHTX and even more for contributing their time and input for this article. Also huge, huge thank you to Alley Kat and everyone who came out, shared their stories, met new friends and made it amazing experience all around.
Most of all, I have endless praise for the guys who started and continue to grow the Hip Hop Book Club. The concept, the format and the execution of such a unique event is impressive to say the least. Oh and DJ iLL Tommie is clearly a K.R.I.T. connoisseur; from mixing samples found on K.R.I.T. Wuz Here to an overall immaculate combination of K.R.I.T. sets before, during and after, he set the atmosphere perfectly.
Hip Hop Book Club is important. Studying and dissecting great hip hop music is important. As hip hop grows more visible in a mainstream light every second, the depth and substance the genre provides too often gets left in the margins. While reaching out and even in writing this article, proof of HHBC's importance continued to shine. Being able to discuss an album like K.R.I.T. Wuz Here in the manner that such an event allowed for was an unforgettable experience that provided life changing insight.
Follow Hip Hop Book Club on Instagram to find an installment of the book club and go. By yourself or with a friend. Share your perspective and fellowship with like minded people. Others feel as passionately as you do about the hip hop albums you love. You won’t sound crazy.