The 610 Loop, a 42-mile speed course of occasional closures, slowdowns, accidents and all in-between, is a major artery within Houston’s travel infrastructure. Head too far east and you’re embracing Pasadena, the East End, the Ship Channel and discussions on whether or not you want to venture to Beaumont and Port Arthur. Head far enough west and you’re tapping the breaks near Katy, the richness of Memorial and more — that is after you bottleneck your way through Bellaire and West University.
To fully touch every bit of it, the great divider of socioeconomic standard for the city — you would need three hours.
To fully grasp George Young‘s The Loop, you only need 51 minutes. Enough time to finish an entire episode of The Wire or mesmerize at the Rockets somehow losing by 15 and giving up 80 but only to be up 3 by the end of the third quarter. Six years ago, Young, the rapper-producer who is more of a rapper’s rapper and producer’s producer than his flashy or even grittier counterparts, released Ventage. Inside his home studio with horror-shrills and hi-hats pushing him through, “City Under Siege” became his version of a city anthem. It was a beautiful tape with odes to the Rockets, nights gaining your adolescence and manhood at Astroworld.
The Loop is another kind of beautiful. The kind of beautiful that understands scars and lesions and yet feel pure and honest. The kind where you cut the stereo on high, trick out your equalizer to a preferred preset and let your mind drift. “Black Ice” replays the warbled synths of Fat Pat’s “Superstar” from 22 years ago and updates it as Young and Tulsa, Oklahoma native Steph Simon body rock about hitting Shipley’s on cheat days, talking sh*t like Redd Foxx and riding clean with the perfect fragrance. “Higher Ground” with Jack Freeman is daydreaming of performing big, smoking big. “Shame to see people that you love ain’t who they claim to be, stick your neck out for the wrong ones — they’ll leave you hanging, G,” Young raps.
Through it all, Young is as laser-focused as ever. As close a middie ground as can be found between Devin The Dude‘s chase for existentialism and Le$‘s desire to solely do cool sh*t, lies Young’s presence on the tape. The world and its inhabitants, the trusted few he wants to ride in the passenger seat on The Loop all show and prove. The tape’s outro, the Faith Evans flip of “You Used To Love Me” for “Rankin Rd” takes a trip back to the ’90s, where Greenspoint jackers still did magic tricks, you either played Madden or Joe Montana Football and walked to Celebration Station. The Loop is the Northside representatives’ trip to what lies beyond, before days of needing a mask to go outside or even survive.
Get lost in the sonics of Young’s brand new tape below.