Posts Tagged ‘nba’


Pyro – Pieces To The Puzzle Album Release Party

September 2, 2010

Download Pyro’s album here.

It’s hard to believe that only five months ago, Phil Houston was the opening act at a small hip-hop show that attracted only a handful of people. Even then, one could sense that he might be something special. At that first show, the 24 year old emcee, now better known as Pyro, got the club popping in a way that no one else could that night. With a strong circle of friends and catchy music, Pyro took the stage and had the place rocking in no time. In fact, Houston brought in so many unexpected guests that the main act, Fat Camp, decided to go on first (instead of the last slot usually reserved for a headliner) and tried to take advantage of a palpably hyped crowd. Until Pyro got on stage, however, it still looked like every other hip-hop show we’ve ever seen in Bremerton: a few people standing around, talking, barely paying attention to a couple of guys that were okay at rapping.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010, Pyro celebrated the release party of his debut album Pieces To The Puzzle and marked both the beginning and the end of a long journey. I’ve seen this man pour his blood, sweat, and tears into this album over the past half year, often wondering if it was even worth it. It’s hard to console someone that’s really got something going for them, but a fear of being unappreciated and overlooked is understandable in a city that has failed to produce a single noteworthy hip-hop act outside of Blue Scholars’ Geologic–and Geo didn’t even become well-known until he took his talents to Seattle.

Until recently, it’s been debatable what the problem is: a lack of talented rappers or a weak hip-hop market in Bremerton? Most local rappers would probably argue that it’s the latter, but Pyro’s release party proved that is simply not true. South Pacific bar, located near the Bremerton ferry, was packed, with roughly 400-500 people jammed inside, making it hard to walk around without getting a drink knocked out of your hands. During Pyro’s set, the majority of the crowd was locked into the performance, often reciting along with the lyrics, adding their own flavor to each song, and generally acting a fool.

So what does Phil Houston have that no one else in the area seems to possess? Well, for starters, he’s talented. The man is clever with wordplay, constructs multisyllable rhyme schemes, and has a rather effortless delivery over mostly infectious beats. More importantly, however, he has an uncanny ability to write hits. Nearly every song in Pyro’s set from Pieces To The Puzzle has an element of crowd involvement that ranges from the call-and-response hook on “Where Ya At?” to easy fill-in-the-blank lyrics on “Eat By Any Means.” Also, in the past five months or so, Pyro has built up a large enough following based on his performances that the crowd is already familiar with his words, despite the fact that the actual album wasn’t released until late August. While Pieces To The Puzzle is awesome in its own right, Pyro is one of those rare performers that you absolutely have to see live. His songs come alive in a way that is absent on the record and it’s impossible to get the full experience of the album without going to a show.

Quality of music is not the only hip-hop element where Pyro has exceeded the competition. The man exudes a level of swag that is absent from most performers. Before his set, Pyro was walking around the club with a microphone in his hand, entertaining the crowd with playful banter and introducing people as they walked in. Not a lot of people could get away with talking over a crowd of hundreds and avoid becoming the target of some tomato throwing. Also, in a party that was advertised as an all-black attire affair, Houston naturally showed up in an all-white outfit, making sure he stood out like a bride at a wedding ceremony. It’s a rare occurrence when an artist displays this kind of confidence and has the ability to back it up with good music.

The contrast between Houston and your average local rapper becomes evident when he decides to share the stage with his fellow HMH Entertainment cohorts. During the middle of his set, Pyro gave way to teammates Richie Rich and Push Capone and the level of interest given to the performers noticeably dimmed. This isn’t necessarily a knock on these guys–Push has as much raw talent as anyone in Bremerton and Richie Rich’s “Wanna Be My” is a hit in the making–it just goes to show that Pyro has reached a level of performing rap songs that nobody in this area has come close to touching.

It would be easy for naysayers to claim that Pyro’s popularity will only go as far as the celebrity of his best friend Marvin Williams will carry him. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a National Champion and NBA baller plastered on your show flyers, the actual impact that Williams has on Houston’s rap career is minimal. The origin of the diamond-encrusted medallion that Pyro wears around his neck is up for debate, but Williams has nothing to do with the financing behind any of HMH Entertainment’s ventures–whether it’s studio time, producing albums, or designing and manufacturing the now ubiquitous “I Run Bremerton” shirts–all of it is self-funded from within the company. As far as getting heads in the door at a show, sure, Marvin Williams is a good draw, but spend some time at a Pyro show and it will be obvious who everyone really came to see.

It’s amazing how far Pyro has come in such a short time and it’s refreshing to see someone have a shot at realizing their dreams. At this point, it’s safe to say the young emcee has nothing left to prove in his hometown. Pieces To The Puzzle is a strong debut album that has enough mass appeal that it should at least get Pyro some buzz going in Seattle and possibly even nationwide via the internet. As long as he stays focused, there’s no reason Pyro can’t accomplish his own goal: “We run Bremerton, now it’s time to take the state.” Congratulations Young Phil, you’re a star in the making.

Download Pyro’s album here.

rap name: Pyro PiH
Album: Pieces To The Puzzle 2.0
HMH Entertainment
Twitter @pyropih


Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot

February 10, 2009

I came across Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot looking over a list of someone’s top 25 films of 2008. This film caught my eye because it was directed by Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA from The Beastie Boys) and it focused on a group of the best high school players in the nation in 2006 preparing to play in the inaugural “Elite 24” game at famed Rucker Park in Harlem. It wasn’t a hard sell for me… a documentary directed by a Beastie Boy following the story of the most talented senior class of my lifetime? Uhm, “move to top of queue” please.

While there were plenty of talented players to choose from, Yauch decides to center his film around Michael Beasley (#2 in 2007 draft), Kyle Singler (2007 ACC Rookie Of The Year), Brandon Jennings (#1 ranked senior last year, now playing overseas), Donte Green (#28 pick in 2007 draft), Kevin Love (#5 pick in 2007 draft), Tyreke Evans (top 5 recruit this year, now playing PG for Memphis), Jerryd Bayless (#11 pick in 2007 draft) and Lance Stephenson (top 15 senior this year).

Considering that Beasley, Green, Love, and Bayless were college superstars last year, some of these players already had a ridiculous amount of exposure before this film was released, so I was familiar with all of the players already. Regardless, it’s interesting to see these guys still in high school and on the brink of stardom. You can see why Beasley dominated at Kansas State last year; the guy is a Man-Child at 17 and can be seen scoring at will against his superstar peers in the big game. You also get a glimpse at his personality that may not be apparent in other media coverage. Beasley is the court jester, literally; his mouth is jabbering away the entire time he’s playing (“You ugly as shit, Donte”), he always seems to be planning a prank, and the man just seems annoying as hell. I wouldn’t want him as a roommate, that’s for sure.

Kevin Love is also fun to watch in this film. Not only do you get a great high school highlight reel that includes a game-winning shot at the buzzer and a backboard shattering dunk, but we also get to see a still baby-faced Love and can appreciate how much he has matured as a man and as a player from the time this film was shot to now. It’s quite the transformation.

Basically, I was thoroughly entertained by this documentary, both as a fan of film and a fan of college basketball. I wouldn’t even be mad if Yauch could make this an annual series detailing the year’s best high school players… the only problem is, I’d like to see the film before everyone in the world has seen the guy succeed at the college level already. I think this is a good documentary, in general, but a must see for any fan of college basketball and last year’s draft class.

Score: 6.5 out of 10 (Recommended/Must See)