Joey Guerra’s 12 best Houston albums of 2021

Houston rapper Bigg Fatts poses for a photo on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at the Houston Chronicle Studio in Houston. Bigg Fatts grew up in South Park and has continued to grow beyond Houston.

Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

The best thing about Houston’s signature sound is that there isn’t one. Rap continues to occupy an important place in the musical composition of the city. And there are dozens of talented lyricists beyond the obvious hitmakers. There are also other sounds and artists who go beyond the genre standards to create their own sounds. This year, they’ve fought demons, pondered loss, and stood up for sanity.

1. “Back to Form”, John Allen Stephens: Stephens, who has worked with many of Houston’s most talented artists, showcased his own skills on this nifty and concise album that is less than 30 minutes long. The songs detail his addiction to prescription pain relievers after a motorcycle accident in 2016 and the death of his best friend in 2017 from an overdose. Her voice, piercing and supple, anchors every moment.

2. ‘Chapter 1: Desire and Chapter 2: Loss,’
Madeline the person

: Madeline, who grew up in Bellaire, was signed to Warner Records after being discovered on TikTok. But his songs belied the fleeting nature of the app. They are painful and hard-hitting confessionals, fueled by everything from her father’s death to past relationships. But she finds beauty in these difficult times. And she could be the next big star in town.

3. “Preparing the mill”

Big fat

: The tracks of rapper Bigg Fatts’ albums are inspired by food, a play on his size and his love of food. “The Mill Prep”, a riff on the phrase “meal prep”, is indeed a feast, the best showcase to date of his personality and potential. The songs go from silly to serious, and it’s to Fatts’ credit that the album never loses its momentum.

4. “She’s a bad person”, Robyn Tha Bank: Humor and wit are the pillars of this vibrant EP, the creation of Robyn Troup, from Houston. The single “Don’t Stop Groovin ‘” references’ 90s band Deee-Lite, and the video features a pregnant troupe and two dancers in Third Ward and EaDo. Every song, in fact, radiates Troupe’s superstar charisma. She won the My Grammy Moment competition in 2007, sang on stage with Justin Timberlake and recorded a cover of AC / DC’s “Back in Black” with
Carlos Santana and Nas

5. “Corner store legend”, Rob Gullatte: Gullatte, who has been recording for nearly a decade, has a beginner’s focus and fire on “Corner Store Legend”. The title song alone, which opens the album, builds itself beautifully and announces the arrival of real strength. “Military Minded” has the vibe of a radio hit. And Gullatte does everything without features or collaborations. It’s his only scene to shine.

Five more in Houston:

“Soul Not for Sale 2”, Youth Soul Love

‘Afuera’, Gio Chamba and Coffeeleaf

“Let my hair fall out,” said a girl

“Genesis of sound II”, Christopher Anton

“Forward Ever”, Dem Roots Music

6. “Flight behavior”, SuperFly Mixx: This ambitious project by Marcus Thompson, who records under the name SuperFly Mixx, has many bops. (Stop Playing Wit ‘Me “is that one.) But it’s really a concept album about mental health, interspersed with a trio of therapy sessions. Thompson reflects on family, death, and COVID-19 – but the “Black Boy Joy” celebration ends the album on a happy note.

7. “Manipulated”, Emily Cole: It’s hard to stand out in a city populated by young eccentric pop singers. Cole rises above with an elegant and heartfelt collection of songs she has written and produced. His strength is to take everyday and often discussed topics and personalize them, both lyrically and vocally. This allows a lively and luminous listening.

8. “A place where we were,” Blossom Aloe: It’s hard to believe this is the debut album from the pop quintet Blossom Aloe. Each song is beautifully crafted, evoking a sense of dreamlike nostalgia. It’s the sound of a group of people who were supposed to make music together. And the fact that this is just the beginning makes it all the more exciting.

9. “Alarm clock”,

Paul Moon

: Luna is bold and brash on this collection of originals that take inspiration from old-school and southern rap. He says he is proud to represent the LGBTQ + community in a genre that is not always welcoming. He does not apologize on the stars “Flawless” and “No Vaseline”. But his creativity and charisma deserve to be recognized beyond the labels.

10. ‘2,’ Guardian of Atlantis: This solo effort by Ramon Medina, formerly of the Linus Pauling Quartet and the Cryptographers, addresses a myriad of social issues. But it’s also just a trippy listening. The songs are both melodic and lyrical, psychedelic and noisy.

11. “Cracked, Faulty and Frayed”, Brightwire: There is something charming and unvarnished about folk-rock trio Brightwire. That appeal is well captured on this album, a solid showcase for their vocal harmonies and playing skills.

12. “Famous Thot”, “Slime Season 4” and “Snako Malfoy”, Sludge Von: On the strength of ambition alone, rapper Sludge Von ranks for releasing three albums in 2021. “Snako Malfoy” is the most accomplished, and together they form a fascinating card of an artist who focuses on his sound. .

  • Joey guerra

    Joey Guerra is the music critic for the Houston Chronicle. It also covers various aspects of pop culture. He’s reviewed hundreds of concerts and interviewed hundreds of celebrities, from Justin Bieber to Dolly Parton to Beyonce. He appeared as a regular correspondent on Fox26 and served as the chief judge and director of the Pride Superstar singing competition for a decade. He has been named journalist of the year several times by OutSmart magazine and the FACE Awards. It also covers various aspects of pop culture, including the local drag scene and “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.