Joe Kane – Keep Houston Screwed
Ahead of his July 2022 album, Po$$um, Joe Kane has one mission: Keep Houston Screwed. Will he see it through? Let’s journey:
Houston’s “screw” sound, pioneered by DJ Screw, changed Hip-Hop‘s sonic landscape by the mid 2000’s. Simultaneously, it stamped itself as the H-Town’s signature sound.
Enter Joe Kane. From the introduction, “All I Do Is Chop“, you know what he’s on. This is everything you’d expect from authentic screw. Yet, not your typical intro: Joe articulates how great of an actual barber he is. He’s a barber & barbershop owner in his hometown. Who knew?
“Classic” follows suit, sounding like an extended version of the opening track. On first-listen of “Kool-Aid” featuring Deezy, you may be waiting for 2009 Drake to appear with a verse (like me). “I smile every, cause everything is Kool-Aid” Kane utters on its chorus. Though hard to tell, because screwed up smiles sound a bit like sinister frowns.
The downside to a niche sound is you either have to be a super-fan of it, or in the mood for it, to give it a spin. That’s why you see Fivio Foreign, for instance, enlisting Kanye West to execute produce his B.I.B.LE album. The idea to make the sound as universally appealing while keeping its essence. That doesn’t happen here.
This is straight raw, no cut.
Also, Joe Kane isn’t the best or worse rapper lyrically. He teeters the line of passable, throughout. If you’re looking for a bar-fest, go that-away. Not even many attempts at adding literary acrobatics or adding poetic value. It’s more take it how you get it.
Phoenix Platinum brings some spice and higher pitches to the mix with his verse and hook on “Used To”. It’s also here that you’ll find the mixtape’s best melody [and some questionable lyrics on Phoenix’s behalf].
Joe personally has his best flow on “6700“. A bit more wordy than most of the album.
Pulling previously published verses may be the most genius play across the entire KHS. 2 Chainz’ “Back Then” vocals, for instance, originates from his verse on Bebe Rexha’s “That’s It“. Juicy J‘s verse on “Still In It” is from “Cash In A Rubberband” by DJ Bay Bay, also featuring Project Pat and Wiz Khalifa. They are repurposed in screw pitch and subsequently given new life.
The album eneds with its 2 most introspective tracks, giving you a peak into the personal life of Joe “Killa” Kane.
On “Truth Be Told“, Kane spits “I made it to another day” while reminiscing on past drug dealing days. Claiming he had to “make a change“. On “Momma“, he reflects on past lessons taught by his now-deceased parent. “Waking up to some bad news“, he says of the passing, over Tyler, The Creator-esque production.
All-in-all, screw is in good hands with Joe Kane. Syrupy flows, matching production and all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a tape titled Keep Houston Screwed. Po’ up.