With hip-hop apparently taking 2001 off to puzzle over how much bling-bling is too much, and what exactly to do in the wake of OutKast's Stankonia, this could have easily been a cruel, cruel summer. However, extensive research -- yeah, right -- has unearthed a handful of recent Lone Star releases that will gladly rub coconut oil all over your sun-blistered ears. You lucky thing. Maybe it's because I just saw American Pie 2, but the mental image of marching bands statewide queuing up to the strains of "Independent Women Part 1" is pretty funny, if for no other reason than its four-note hook has got to be easier on the lips than the octave-bending "Survivor" opening. Of course I'm talking about Destiny's Child's third LP, and inquiring minds will discover the Houston honeys don't think you're ready for this jelly, don't fancy anyone stealing their shine, and would like yon nasty girl to not walk out the house without her clothes on. Though they've said it all by "Sexy Daddy," Survivor is a superb primer of 21st-century girl talk, and lifting that Knight Rider guitar from Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" into "Bootylicious" is a minor stroke of genius DC aren't the only ones with retro fever, but no way would Beyonce's dad let 'em listen to either of Ter'ell's new ones, Chocolate Love or Ter'ell's Groove House. Like D'Angelo and Prince, this Austinite is a one-man studio freak as dedicated to getting freaky as, er, D'Angelo and Prince. His funk-saturated, B-boy approved groove alone should come wrapped in brown paper, but T also works in songs about his family ("Justice"), spirituality ("Got's to Tell"), and lets everyone know where he's coming from on "South Ballin'" Similarly proud of his origins is Austin's NOOK, who steers the Jumponit free shows in Rosewood Park during the summer. They're already over this year, so instead score a copy of his Get Ready, which holds it down for the "crooked A" like he just gassed Town Lake and this CD has the antidote. Spend any time sweltering in Get Ready's stanky synth, and you'll know why he named his label Off the Block Oh, and like clockwork, Hip Hop Humpday mainstay Tee Double is one step closer to his stated goal of releasing 20 independent albums before signing to a major label. This year's entry, The Eighth Principle (Kinetic), raises an important question, though: Why would an artist who can battle and freestyle with the best of them, then turn around and record something as precise and thought-provoking as "20 Manor Rd.," even want to be on a major? So he can make a video with Halle Berry? Well, okay Snoop Dogg isn't from Texas, but he is Snoop, and his Eastsidaz have a new one out called Deuces 'N' Trays. I'm sure it's dope, but this whole Crip-walking thing has me a little concerned. I prefer the Caucasian crotch-grab, exemplified by Kid Biscuit & his Biscuit Boyz on a five-song demo the West Campus wild things were kind enough to hand me not long ago. Yes, whether you're getting crunk in the club, kicking back in the Groove House, or riding KB's "Redneck Rollercoaster," you must admit that summer way down Texas way is awful hard to beat.
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