Courtney Mitchell. Big Duce. Age 30. Killeen, TX born & raised. I’m cool and laid back. They call me the Joe Jackson of the G.Y.M. I’m big bro. Big Duce is a name I came up with while freestyling when I was younger and it stuck to me like glue.
Do you remember your first time entertaining?
Lol Yea in elementary I was chubby checker doing the twist..lol good times.
What was your first experience with music like?
I grew up around music my grandfather owned a juke joint in Galveston and I stayed in there and the jukebox stayed playing.
What keeps you motivated?
The GYM has kept me motivated watching my lil bros put in this work and be so dedicated to accomplishing the same goal…putting the GYM on the map …it gives me the drive to keep going and go hard at that it’s serious round here bout this rapping.
Who were your musical influences?
Fat Pat & Lil’ Keke. If I had to compare my style to another artist it would be like Fat Pat and Lil’ Keke together because I give it to you raw like Lil’ Keke and I’m a big dude that’s jiggy like Fat Pat.
What was your favorite song growing up?
Lil Troy – Wanna Be a Baller
How do you define success?
Success is when I can feed my family and provide for them from rap alone. When all I have to do is get up and rap for a check.
Our fall 2016 playlist features some great music from artists featured in our entertainment section. Take a listen and make sure you follow the artists and download their music. Support the Underground!
“I’m going to work enough that you will be forced to see my art.” -Brandon Howell
Brandon Howell is an extremely talented artist who is quickly making a strong name for himself on the Houston art scene. Originally from Georgia, the artist visited Houston for the first time and loved the city so much that he decided to make it his home. He has been working as an art teacher in Houston for the past 2 years. He made it his mission to work hard at his craft and make a living doing what he loves, creating art. Brandon paints lots of portraits and people’s pets and he mainly works with spray paints and acrylics. He has created a nice buzz for himself by painting portraits of Houston entertainers like the late great Pimp C, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall to name a few.
The 27 year old artist comes from a single parent home, and hopes to use his skills to make a name for himself and make his mother proud. FYI Houston asked Brandon about his 5 year goals and he responded, “I just want to continue to paint and continue to grow as an artist, and as a human being.”
Howell has this advice for young artists and anyone who needs motivation to pursue their dreams: “I would say to young artists…don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do. I never went to college, I never went to art school, but I make a living painting because i never stopped. Ive been teaching art classes at a studio for 2 years now with 0 art school myself. All this life takes is effort and work. And remember to paint what makes you happy. It may take years, but people will respect and love you for doing great pieces that YOU wanted to paint.”
At the pace Howell is operating, it is no wonder how he has become such a sensation in the art community here. His paintings are very detailed and make a bold statement to its admirers. You should definitely adorn the walls of your home or office with a piece of Brandon Howell’s original artwork.
Tha Kid Rock N Rolla is a young artist representing the southside of Houston, TX. The young artist hasn’t even graduated from high school yet, but he is definitely handling grown man business. Already the entertainer has positioned himself amongst a solid team of individuals and is making quality, ready-for-radio music. He is a member of the Ballout Music Group (BMG) and Only My Brother (OMB) squad (view BMG’s interview here)
One thing that stands out the most about Rock n Rolla is that his flow sounds a lot more mature than his age. He has had to deal with close friends passing due to street violence, so he has had to grow up much faster than his peers. He started rapping because he wants to be an example for his community and friends. He wants to show everyone that you can do anything you put your mind to. He literally started rapping in his closet! From there, he progressed to performing for his friends and at block parties. Now, the young artist is in the studio daily and releasing highly anticipated music.
Rock n Rolla’s music style is very energetic. He likes to make music that makes people have fun. He has been influenced by artists like StunnaBam, Z-Ro, and Lil’ Keke. However, the artist attests that he definitely possesses a style that is all his own.
While the young artist represents his city to the fullest, he actually has a different perspective when he describes the influence his city has had on him. He explains, “It’s a kind of a bad influence because no one’s really trying to work together, and everyone is always competing with each other.” However, Rock n Rolla is still very optimistic about his career. His affiliation with BMG/OMB has him surrounded by people who truly support him and wish him success. With a team like that, and a flow like his, we can see why he believes in his dreams so strongly.
Recently Rock n Rolla has released his latest mixtape Handwork is Appreciated which he is very excited about. The mixtape can be downloaded on spinrilla.com (Download Handwork is Appreciated HERE)
FYI Houston was first blessed with the Memphis, TN group Burial Boyz undeniable energy at our 4th Annual Summer Showcase & Launch back in July 2016. The duo exhibited extreme confidence in traveling to Houston, TX to perform for a group of people who have never heard of them before. Not only did they get on the stage, they blazed it! Their energy was so amazing that it didn’t matter that we didn’t know them beforehand. Their performance ensured that we would pay attention from now on.
The duo originally started performing together in 2013, but they had not quite solidified themselves as an official group. The group is comprised of Jacorri ‘Fly Guy Don C’ Washington and Kameron ‘Blazin’ Watson. They are influenced heavily by the music scene in Memphis as well as the overall hip-hop culture. They attribute their energetic performance style to the ‘crunk’ scene that originated in their hometown. Blazin states, “We come from the city where being ‘crunk’ originated. We wanted to recreate that Three Six Mafia vibe but with the Burial Boyz signature sound.”
So the duo went on a quest to define their sound in a genre where it is difficult to stand out. In the early days, the group would cover the tracks of the hottest songs in rotation and name them ‘burials’. As the duo gained popularity through their music and began to be spotted in the city their fans would call them the Burial Boyz, and the name stuck with them.
Once the Burial Boyz made the name official, they began working on their stage presence. They understand how important it is to not only create a great song, but to bring that song to life via live performance. So, at a Burial Boyz show expect one thing: energy. Fly Guy Don C explains, “Our style is energetic and creative. We always want to bring the audiences something that separates us from other artists and it always has to be lit! Expect crowd engagement, lots of moving, jumping, and last but not least, sauce. Can’t forget about the sauce lol. We aim to make every listen an experience to satisfy the ear.”
The Burial Boyz possess a passionate sound and are determined to leave their stamp on the game in a major way. They work hard and know that consistency is the key to success. Fly Guy Don C says, “Literally everyday I’m either shooting an idea to Blazin or vice versa.”
The two claim to have found themselves in the rhythm a long time ago and have been influenced by artists like Three Six Mafia, UGK, Lil Wayne, Fabulous, and Kanye West. Their favorite thing about performing is the feedback they receive after their set. “All the love is life changing”, says Blazin. As of right now, the Burial Boyz have recently dropped their mixtape Urgency and expect their album Graveyard Shift to be completed shortly after. They also released the visual for their song Run it Up and have more on the way.
When it comes down to it, Blazin and Fly Guy Don C want to not only impact their peers and fans, but also generations to come. They want to exhibit to their followers that with hard work and dedication all dreams can come true. “You have to want it and work for it. Remember you can’t cheat the grind!”
We definitely haven’t heard the last of the Burial Boyz. Stay tuned with FYI Houston for more from the Memphis duo.
“Don’t be afraid to be the outcast. Embrace who you are, people respect that.” -Burial Boyz
Official DeadStock is a shoe company that was created especially for the sneaker heads. Owner, James Jones is a sneaker head himself and started ODS because he wanted to provide a way for his fellow comrades to enjoy exclusive shoes at the best price. James tells us, “I have loved shoes since elementary school and always wanted to work in a shoe store.We will always have the best resell price in town. I love shoes and genuinely want to see others who love shoes be able to get them at a great price.”
James tells us the incredible story of how he turned his passion into his business. While he always knew that he wanted to work in a shoe store, he didn’t imagine that he would start out owning his own. He explains, “One summer I had to pay for a summer class out of pocket with no help from financial aid. I didn’t know how I was going to come up with the money to pay for class, but I knew I didn’t want to ask my parents for the money. I was sitting on my bed when I realized how many shoes I had sitting around in my room, and at that moment I decided to sell some of my shoes to come up with the money to pay for the class. Once I paid for the class and saw how fast I was able to get the money I decided to do it more often and that’s when OfficialDeadstock was born.”
While the company has been very successful since its inception, James admits that he has had his share of challenges as a business owner. He talks about some of the challenges of running a business and how he has had to learn some hard lessons along the way. “The most challenging thing about starting my business was having my store broken into 2 months after I opened. I didn’t have any insurance and had to pay for everything out of pocket. I have insurance now. Entrepreneurship Is a struggle. But when the money comes it’s well worth it.” The young boss has this advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “Save your income tax refund and invest it in getting your business started.”
ODS also features exclusive apparel that allows you to rep your city to the fullest. The new fall line of Mo. City t-shirts recently released in late September. The collection features camo, olive green, maroon, and OG black. In the future, ODS has plans to serve the Houston area in a larger fashion by adding more stores throughout the city. Also, be on the lookout for ODS collaborations with designers to bring sneaker heads special editions shoes exclusively at Official Dead Stock.
Creativefashion design with a divinepurpose in mind.
That is what Godson is all about. A company with a divine purpose. Creative and uncommon designs have allowed the young brand to experience early success, with recording artist Dej Loaf recently rocking the merchandise. For owner and creator Christopher Garcia, this is just the beginning. Christopher started by helping a friend with their clothing line. In 2014, he began to feel compelled to create his own designs. “I just wanted to get out my creative ideas and just simply create. I knew I wanted to provide a platform to help others chase their dream since day one. I started this brand with a purpose to evoke emotion via streetwear clothing from a Christian point of view.” Continue reading “Godson owner talks Houston’s fashion scene, and the message behind the brand”
It is the future of fashion, of style, of consciousness. Never before has a clothing brand connected you with the history behind the fashion and educated you about the meaning behind the designs. Negash is an African inspired brand, mainly with designs that are associated with ancient Egyptian history and culture.
Rocklin Hotep Negash, creator of Negash Apparel & Footwear was inspired by his hometown of Detroit, MI and the arts and life of Egyptian culture. The brand is heavily influenced by Egyptian symbols, Pharaohs, Gods, and Goddesses. Their logo, the Deshret crown, was worn by the Pharaohs ruling over Lower Egypt. They inspire their customers to know their history and to know that they are royalty.
Since its creation in 2004, the brand has presented nothing but high quality products that can be shipped to your front door in just two days. When creating designs, they follow no rules or guidelines; they simply create. Rocklin explains, “There are no rules. Fashion is art and interpretation. We follow no guidelines we allow the designs we create to speak to us. Here in Detroit the fashion styles all differ person to person no one dresses alike.”
The brand has seen much success and is currently working on their upcoming fall/winter collection. They plan to become a worldwide brand with stores in major cities and countries. To get your hands on the latest fashion first, stay connected with FYI Houston for updates on Negash.
Rep yo city! If you’re from Houston, Texas you know how serious it is. When it comes to being proud of your hometown, true Houstonians are the proudest. That is true in all aspects of Houston culture; from sports, music, and even fashion–Houston culture is embedded in every aspect.
Fck You Houston’s Awesome (FYHA) is a clothing line that is truly proud of Houston’s culture and represents it on every article of clothing that they produce. They say it very boldly, so you won’t misunderstand: Fck You Houston’s Awesome.
Creators Anthony Gassnola and Adria LeCrone 36 have both been intrigued with fashion and the industry since they were young kids, but more recently started their company because they wanted to showcase their passion for fashion and design as well as their passion for Houston culture. “We grew tired of the continuous bashing of Houston and wanted to make a brand that shows how much we love it.” FYHA is the go-to brand for anyone who wants to put on for the city. FYHA designs are inspired by Houston’s urban culture, with a twist of the creators’ individual flare. They explain that their fashion style inspiration is as diverse as Houston culture is. “Houston is a melting pot of all different fashion trends. We pull inspiration from all aspects of living in Houston. It could be from different music, graffiti, tattoos, bars and anything that deals with the Houston culture.”
FYHA has been doing extremely well, with styles that are unmatched. Since starting the company, the creators have experienced their share of setbacks and success. From trying to run an entire company with the manpower of two, to collaborating with other dope designers to create even doper fashions, the journey has been trying but rewarding. They explain, “Through design we’ve been able to make connections with people we would, on a normal day, not have met. FYHA has become our voice and even movement to celebrate all things Houston.” The duo has been working hard from the start and have plans to take the brand to the next level and work their business full time. They offer this advice to anyone who wants to get their start in the fashion industry: “Don’t be afraid to take risks and chase your dreams.”
FYHA is a Houston brand, created by Houstonians, for Houstonians and those who appreciate Houston’s culture. Make sure you stay connected with the brand for the latest representation of Houston’s unique trendsetting culture.
Cooley Kimble is a man of many talents. He is best known as an entertainment recording artist. The Houston native wrote his first song at 15 years old, and has immersed himself in his craft. He has created some great music so far, and based on his current catalog we can definitely expect more. We sat down with him for our Fall issue so that we could get to know him better. Keep scrolling to check it out…