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Chaos in Tejas Live (Finale): Bushwick Bill

Takin’ it back to the old school

By Chase Hoffberger, 3:00PM, Mon. Jun. 3, 2013

Bushwick Bill, bad as he’s ever been, 6.2.13
Bushwick Bill, bad as he’s ever been, 6.2.13
photo by Chase Hoffberger

Do people realize that rap icon Bushwick Bill has become something of local scenester these past three months? He’s employed some of the best session musicians this town has to offer in recording an album that Arlyn Studios partner and chief BB wrangler T. Murphey says goes to mixing this Friday.

Sunday’s Chaos in Tejas finale had a real hometown feel to it, so much so that drummer Brannen Temple, not one to typically frequent the East Austin haunt after 1am on the Sabbath, stopped in to taste what the Geto Boy’s been cooking.

Big-bodied California rapper Antwon, who thanked Chaos in Tejas headliners Infest profusely for teaching him “how to be social,” had already weeded out the punks. Crusty black armor gave way to hip T-shirts. This would be Bill’s going away party as he’s set to tour the country alongside his Geto Boys these next two months. Austin had to get its last looks.

Backed by guitarist Zach Ernst, bassist Scott Nelson, and drummer J.J. Johnson, three of the many locals who helped contribute to the recording of Bill’s comeback album, which Murphey said he hopes to release this summer, the iconic Houston rapper showed up in full party regalia, slugging a Dos Equis while smoking Camel Lights in his own “Bushwick Bill Me” T-shirt.

“I gotta thank Austin for this,” he said after flipping through a funky version of 2009’s “Takin’ It Back,” a remake of which doubles as the new album’s lead single, released Wednesday. “I just said I wanted to make an album with a live band, and now you all love me.”

Those inside the steamy Hotel Vegas Sunday loved Bushwick in spades. They rapped along through “Crooked Officer” and brought Bill beers on the ready. They shouted the best they could during each call-and-response session, and even got behind a characteristically strange segue concerning his comeback.

“I have an 11-year-old daughter who got skipped to the sixth grade,” the rapper led, “and a 16-year-old daughter who’s graduating six months early. I’m a good father, and when young people want something, I try to give it to them.

“So we gonna play ‘Pussy Make Me Funky, Money Make Me Come,’” he said, referencing “P. Funk,” from 1998’s No Surrender... No Retreat.

J.J. Johnson counted the rhythm. Ernst and Nelson joined in. A forgotten song was reborn – funky, soulful, and alive.

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