By Kristopher Tondre
Artist: Maxo Kream
Album: The Persona Tape
Label: Kream Clicc/TSO Music Group
Release Date: June 29, 2016
Maxo Kream is not for the faint of heart and those who aren’t truly trill. The Hoover Crip from Southwest Houston is an intimidating man who makes intimidating music. His first breakout single, “Lewinsky”, was an ode to home burglaries that held nothing back when he told listeners what he thought of the legal system and to ensure someone played his QuiccStrikes project when he went to court.
As the now viral video of one particular mom reacting to Vince Staples’ song “Norf Norf” has gained popularity, one can imagine why I might be hesitant to play such music for my own mother, if not question why play it for her at all. But one thing about my mother is that she appreciates good music of all genres, even rap music once she can get past the substantial amount of cursing typically found amongst the genre. Maxo Kream is good, maybe even great, and I just wanted to share that.
Nearly three years since the release of the “Lewinsky” video, Maxo Kream delivers his fourth project in the slow banging The Persona Tape. Much like Houston legend Z-Ro, Maxo Kream is a consistent workhorse that sticks to what he knows and talks about it in a cadence that rarely wavers yet still sounds fresh each time you press play on one of his songs.
The slow creeping “Shop” was the first offering released from the project that showed fans that although Maxo Kream had gathered quite a significant amount of buzz since releasing his highly touted #MAXO187 project, he was still the grimey rapper from the H. Where sometimes fans have to question how true the street narratives told by rappers in their music is, it’s easy to tell nothing is fabricated when it comes to the tales that Maxo tells over the booming production present on all of his projects. Listening to Maxo, it’s easy to miss what he’s saying a lot of the time due to his subdued yet sometimes fast pace delivery of lyrics. His delivery doesn’t vary much from song to song, but he makes it work so effortlessly that it doesn’t even matter as it all cruises like an ice cream truck through the neighborhood.
Inspired by the character of the same name from the original Friday movie starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, “Big Worm” is another example of Maxo’s consistency when it comes to his delivery and subject matter. Maxo is a hustler at his core, and that’s just what he’s saying over a simple but infectious beat. There’s no hook to the song, just Maxo rapping street based bars for nearly the entire two and a half minutes the song cruises for. But this is what makes Maxo Kream such a favorite amongst his listeners, his consistency. He’s one of the few promising up-and-coming rappers that’s coming out of Houston, let alone all of Texas, and what you see is exactly what you get when listening to his music.
I originally played Maxo Kream for my mom to show her his flow and the way he just cruises over the beat so effortlessly. My mom could tell he was good from what little bit I played for her, and hopefully soon enough the rest of the rap world will recognize to the talent coming out of Southwest Houston. He’s collaborated with Joey Bada$$, Paul Wall, The Cool Kids, Fredo Santana and countless others, and is currently serving as one of the openers on Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition tour. Hopefully, the exposure from the tour and some of these collaborations will find Maxo Kream even more listeners to ride along on his gritty tales of the hood.