The rabblerousing two-part track finds a potty-mouthed Bey commanding would-be competitors to “bow down” and declaring “I’m from that H-Town” on the song’s hook with multiple references to candy-painted cars and other “trill” hints of Houston hip-hop culture.
On the second half of the song, the Grammy-winning vocalist delivers a chopped and screwed rap verse, which is a style pioneered by the late DJ Screw. “Rolling high, leather and wood/ Keep it trill, that’s what’s good,” she rhymes before shouting out the Geto Boys’ Willie D and recalling the influence that Port Arthur, Texas, native group UGK had on her life.
The Geto Boys were the first rap act to break out of Houston in the late 1980s, but Screw and his Screwed Up Click would go on to pioneer a unique, slowed-down sound in the 1990s. Screw, who passed away in 2000 of a codeine overdose, influenced generations of rappers when he pitched down the tempo on records to create a slower, more bass heavy version of popular records. In the early 2000s, Houston hip-hop and its regional sound experienced an explosion when artists like Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Paul Wall broke through with syrup-drenched singles like “Still Tippin’.”
Bun B, who hails from Houston’s nearby neighbor Port Arthur as well, heard Bey’s new song and commended her tribute to their city’s hip-hop roots.
I like the new Beyonce snippets. She repping H Town hard like always! Houston lets make sure we stand behind her like we supposed 2! #Trill
— Bun B (@BunBTrillOG) March 18, 2013
“I like the new Beyonce snippets,” he tweeted. “She repping H Town hard like always! Houston lets make sure we stand behind her like we supposed 2! #Trill”
In 2005, Beyoncé paid homage to her hometown with her bouncy, twerk single “Check On It” which featured a verse from Slim Thug and Bun B. As of late, a host of out-of-towners like A$AP Rocky, Drake, Kendrick Lamar have adopted portions of the H-Town sound, a move which many of the city’s veterans are in full support of.
“I hear the argument everyday all day, especially with Drake,” H-Town underground icon Z-Ro said when MTV News caught up with him in February during a broadcast of Shade 45‘s “Sway in the Morning” radio show, during NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. “We all borrow from each other, and I’m not finna be mad at a cat because he dropped a song and it sounded like mine and it worked for him.”
While Beyoncé isn’t known for making chopped and screwed, the fact that she hails from Houston means she has closer sonic ties to most. At 14 years old, she appeared in the Geto Boys’ 1998 “Gangsta Put Me Down” video and of course there were the times she used to sneak listens of UGK, as recalled on the end of “I Been On.”
“UGK, we made damn good music,” Bun B told us of he and Pimp C’s legacy, before the Beyoncé single was released. “That’s bound to influence people. We talk about very real things that happening in people’s lives. That’s not bull. We talk about real life circumstances, real life consequences… I can’t help it if I influenced people. Thank God somebody influenced me or I wouldn’t be here right now.”
What do you think of Bey’s tribute to H-town hip-hop? Sound off below!