In 2005, after simmering as a mostly regional phenomenon for well over a decade, Houston’s distinctive brand of Southern hip-hop went national, and suddenly the entire country knew about diamond grilles, purple drank and “chunkin’ the deuce.” What else entered the American vernacular when the Texas city suddenly became rap’s favorite city? The cell phone number of a guy named Mike Jones. Who is Mike Jones? Aside from being the name of his now double-platinum breakthrough album, he’s the dude responsible for blowing Houston up in the first place with his scene-defining single “Still Tippin’.” In one fell swoop, Jones introduced the world to his hometown’s vibe, lingo and swagger, busting down the mainstream door for compatriots Slim Thug and Paul Wall as well as rivals like Chamillionaire. H-Town couldn’t have asked for a better representative: It’s hard not to love a rapper who comes into the game with no pretense, admitting that he had trouble getting laid before he became famous and imploring his fans to hit him up “on the low,” repeatedly shouting his digits on record until it’s burned into the brain of every listener. Even as others have risen up in the wake of his success, Jones remains Houston’s greatest ambassador, and he’s continuing to spread the good word, coming to the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara on April 1 (and no, this isn’t an April Fools Day prank). Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, 687-0766
He may not be held in the same regard as Kurt Cobain in terms of broad social importance, but in the hearts of many, Sublime frontman Brad Nowell was the voice of a generation. He certainly spoke to disaffected teenagers as much as Cobain did, except he made wasting youth sound like a bitchin’ party rather than a painful grind. This May will mark the tenth anniversary of Nowell’s drug-induced death, which is the perfect time for pundits to re-evaluate his legacy and possibly raise his status from doomed could’ve-been to prodigiously talented beach-bum visionary. Some, of course, don’t need to do any reassessments. For tribute artists Sublime Remembered, Nowell and the two misfits he made music with — bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh — are already legends. Remember Nowell and the ska-punk-reggae institution he represented at the Canyon Club on April 2.