Houston Rapper Releases Four Albums in One Day
|thenorthstar||Feb 27, 2019|
Houston rapper K-Rino (a.k.a. Eric Kaiser) recently released four new albums at the same time: Lightening Language, Then and Now, Three Weeks Later, and The S-Project. The records offer his characteristic style of rich storytelling, creative wordplay, and novel lyricism thoroughly infused with Black history.
Despite such artistic productivity, the expansiveness of K-Rino’s “4-Piece” project is not unusual. In late 2016, K-Rino made a project called “The Big 7,” where he released seven albums on the same day.
K-Rino hails from Houston’s South Park neighborhood in Third Ward, a part of the city with a rich artistic culture and a long history of collective productivity. He is also one of the earliest artists in Houston’s large rap family, a list that includes the Geto Boys, Bun B, and Paul Wall, among many others. More broadly, K-Rino figures into the larger story of “third coast” rap and associated acts in hip-hop’s “dirty South” tradition—what writer Tamara Palmer refers to as “country fried soul.”
K-Rino’s rap career began in 1983 as a high school student, when he honed his lyrical skills in local rap battles. He founded the South Park Coalition (SPC), a collective of rap artists from Houston and beyond that continues to produce music. Early on, K-Rino made the decision to maintain his identity as an independent, underground artist, and has produced over three dozen albums to date.
This flexibility and creative versatility also provided the artistic space to write a unique eight-song fantasy tale called The Sorcerer’s Saga which K-Rino unfurled over six albums between 2010 and 2016. An Afrofuturistic story that moves among the universe, Houston, and other future worlds, it pits “The Wizard,” K-Rino’s alter ego, against “The Sorcerer,” a powerful galactic hater who through lies, threats, and magic attempts to steal The Wizard’s lyric notebooks and otherwise wreck his career. A member of the Nation of Islam, the seventh track on each of K-Rino’s records addresses a topic of religious or spiritual importance. Examples include “From the Sky,” which appears on 80 Minute Eternity (2012), “Point Number 12” on Deprogrammed (2014), and “Elijah” on Enter the Iron Trap (2016).
K-Rino’s Houston roots run deep. Hip-hop scholar Maco L. Faniel wrote that K-Rino is “a conscious rapper in a gangsta city” whose work “stands out for his lyrical style, philosophical subject matter and wicked punch lines.” When he’s not performing shows, K-Rino redistributes his time and talent throughout the local community. A supporter of cultural education, he makes his music freely available on his YouTube channel. He regularly shares his industry experiences and creative knowledge with journalists, artists, and scholars, but most especially through A.R.C., or Artists Respecting Communities.
Looking ahead, K-Rino has plans for more music, more albums, and especially more mentoring. His latest venture is K-Rino Radio, a show that airs on 90.1 KPFT, Houston’s Pacific station. His guests include activists, entrepreneurs, and artists, including some of Houston’s leading female rappers such as Cl’Che.
About the Author
Phillip Luke Sinitiere is a Sections Editor at The North Star. He is a historian who writes on race, religion, culture, and society. He teaches history and humanities at the College of Biblical Studies, a predominately Black school located in Houston’s Mahatma Gandhi District. Sinitiere is the author or editor of several books including Protest and Propaganda: W. E. B. Du Bois, The Crisis, and American History; Salvation with a Smile: Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, and American Christianity; and Citizen of the World: The Late Career and Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois.