A Good Look: Meet The Outfit, TX, The Best Dallas Rap Group In Houston
It's been a good month for The Outfit, TX.
A few weeks ago, the trio of Mel Kyle, Dorian Terrell and JayHawk Walker released the video for their single "Private Dancer" from their 2012 album Starships & Rockets: Cooly Fooly Space Age Funk, and, ever since, they've been buzzing like crazy, earning nods of approval from a number of high-profile sites such as MTV Hive, Four Pins and, just this morning, 2DopeBoyz.
But here's the thing none of those outlets will tell you about The Outfit, TX: Though the group currently resides in Houston, all three of its members are from Dallas.
And, yes, we'll happily claim them as our own. The Outfit, TX blends together the best characteristics of such legendary Southern hip-hop acts as UGK, Outkast and Three 6 Mafia, and, once you've heard "Private Dancer," you'll immediately agree.
Still, the trio would prefer to be appreciated in their own right. And, as you'll learn in the coming interview, they deserve to be.
This afternoon, as the group prepares to perform tonight at Houston's Warehouse Live for their first-ever headlining show, we caught up with Kyle to learn a little bit more about the group, the slow process that led him to "Private Dancer" and why his group ever bolted Dallas for Houston in the first place.
Tell me about the past month for The Outfit, TX.
We just got back from South by Southwest, so that was a memorable look. We just went down there and kinda mixed and mingled a little bit. Before that, we went and did a show in Austin at the beginning of the month. Tonight, we actually have a headlining show at Warehouse Live [in Houston], and it looks as if it's sold-out. Other than that, we also dropped the video for "Private Dancer" at the beginning of this month. [It's] been getting posted on blogs; we actually just got posted on 2DopeBoyz [this morning]. Outside of that, we've just been in the streets pushing our album.
Yeah, man. That "Private Dancer" video has been getting posted on blogs like crazy lately. How does it feel to be garnering so much attention?
It feels great. Especially, y'know, since we spent all of last year making our album -- really, the end of 2011 and all of last year. So the reciprocity that we're starting to receive -- that's all the album really needs. That's the whole reason we put all that love in to it. We really wanted to plant that seed, and water it, and hope it grew, and hope everybody enjoyed what we made. So it feels great.
What do you think it is about the "Private Dancer" song and video that's starting to garner all this attention?
Honestly, man, and I mean this with all humility, I think it's a pretty damn good song. It's one of my favorite songs that we've ever made. I know we were making it in the lab and I remember it just had that feeling. There's songs you make and you kinda joke around, talking about other shit or whatever, but that was one of the ones where it was like no talking. Everybody was just vibing around, writing their verses. It was stoic. So I feel like the record is strong, in my opinion. It's been in my head since 2011. I was working at Pappadeaux in Dallas and I was walking around work one day and I was just saying, "Cup full of Jolly Ranchers." I was just saying the hook. And I went up to my bandmates -- we all worked together, or used to, they actually just recently fired us. But, anyway. I walked up to them and said, "Say, bro, check this out," and I did the hooks for them. Dorian, he produced it; he's the main producer of the band. He was like, "OK, I can work with it, I can work with it." And months went by -- months. In the springtime, we had moved back down to Houston and he just started making the beat and it all came together. It's just one of those songs that's been slow-marinating for a minute.
You've mentioned getting a "feeling" with these songs. Can you explain that?
Man, to be honest, every record, just like life, everything has its own specific emotion. And what we try to do as a band is we want to capture-- or we want to pay attention to -- if we can even get an emotion initially. So, with many records -- this is me being candid -- even stuff that we've made, there's records in hip-hop music or rap music that don't really have a feel, you know what I mean? What we try to do is when we make those, we consider those stepping stones. They're building blocks, a means to an end. So, when we get that record that makes me feel something, I feel something! We try to say we got something here! We got something and we just run with it. If not, we're just making beats and we're like, "OK, that's a cool beat, let's come up with a hook." But it's not really making me feel like nothing.
You guys are from Dallas and you shout out Dallas throughout the album. But you're living in Houston. Tell me about that.
We moved down to Houston in '06 for college. Dorian and I have known each other for a minute. I've been knowing him since I was 13, since I was yay high. We went to middle school and high school together in Dallas. When we graduated, we came down to [the University of Houston], and we roomed together at the freshmen dorms. And that's when we met JayHawk. He's from Dallas, too. He was a freshman, too, in '06. We've basically been living in Houston since then. We moved back to Dallas when I graduated from U of H in 2011. I graduated in 2010 and it was the end of July 2011 when we moved back to Dallas. And that was a move more based on the music, based on the band. The money got funny, got tight and we decided to take it back home [to Dallas]. We did that and we were living in the area I grew up in -- Pleasant Grove, in basically the hood. And it was just not a good look. It wasn't a good vibe. Our next-door neighbor tried to kick our door in and steal our computers and shit, and they were shooting and carrying on every night, y'know? It's hard to try to make positive music or just be positive when you're hearing machine guns outside your door and it sounds like it's getting closer and you never hear police sirens. After a while, it was just like, "Let's take it on back down to Houston because this shit is not the move." Don't get me wrong. I love my city. But a man knows where he needs to be when the time is right.
And everything's working out in Houston right now?
It is, man. I really can't complain. Every city has its issues. We talk about that all the time. We've had people suggest that we need to go L.A., y'know? People who've been listening to our music since 2010 and 2011, they tell us, "Y'all boys on that next level shit, y'all need to be in L.A., y'all need to be in New York, y'all need to be in Atlanta." Man, look bro, my mama put it best when we were in Dallas, right before we moved. She's a pious woman, y'know, a saint, you know what I mean? She told me, "You gotta bloom where you're planted." And she quoted me a bible verse and talked to me. That's true. That's real. We looked at it like, we're going to Houston and we're gonna bloom where we planted it. All this moving around and thinking about if we were here? Shit, fuck that. Let's go to Houston, and make our music, and let's be patient. That's all we're trying to do.
At the end of "106," y'all talk about moving back to Dallas and seeing that some people have turned their backs on you. Can you explain that a little?
That was JayHawk. You know how it is when you broaden your horizons for a second and you come back to something. A lot of the people that you used to vibe with, used to hang with, I mean, they used to be your partner, like your drinking buddy. It's just not the same, for whatever reason. They might treat you like you're different or they might even make comments. But it's just hate and resentment or jealousy or envy. At the end of the day, most men, most males, we don't get down like that. If I was your friend, I was your friend. So I'm gonna call you. I don't give a damn if it's been since 1999. If I'm in your city, I'm gonna call you and let's go get some drinks. So we were doing that type of shit, but a lot of our partners weren't responding or they were just hitting us certain ways. We were all going through issues. I had one guy talking about how I don't hit 'em anymore, like, "You don't call me, you don't do this, you don't do that." I'm like, "We've been busy making music, but that don't mean I don't love you, bro!" So, we moved back to Dallas and we were looking at it in a positive light, like, "Yeah, we get to go back and kick it with our old friends," and they weren't really acting friendly. They were acting like we were aliens. So, damn! It's still just us three!
It seems like whenever a Southern hip-hop group starts getting some attention, there's always comparisons to other Southern legends -- UGK, Outkast and Three 6, groups like that. That's certainly been true with you all, too. Does that bother you? Or do you like it?
Well, first and foremost, I consider it humbling because I feel like UGK cannot be compared. I feel like Outkast cannot be compared to nobody. I feel like that's doing them boys injustice. What they did is something that we're dreaming of doing. But, at the same time, I appreciate it because people are putting us in good company. And, third, I feel like, "Y'know what? Let us be our own thing." It's like if a mother and father have kids, the baby child out of the three doesn't want to be compared to his older siblings all the time. Like, I'm my own person. God made me to do my own thing, have my own name, and I look different, y'know? That's not to say we don't want to be compared and included. But, at the same time, I hate that people are so caught up in that. [People] do that in everything. In sports, they keep comparing Lebron to Jordan. Can Lebron be Lebron? Like, damn! Let Lebron do his thing! Let's appreciate what he's doing! I feel like, if we keep doing that shit, we're gonna under-appreciate everything in real time. Like, why we have this hindsight perception of life, I don't understand. I take it for what it's worth. I don't get mad at nobody, but I hope you're not jamming our shit and everything that comes out this point forward or even this album and you're to think about other albums that came out from other groups in the South. You're getting it for what it's worth. I didn't go to see Matrix Revolutions and think about the Terminator. That has nothing to do with The Matrix. That's just how I feel.
How excited are you for tonight? I mean, you've got your first headlining show -- andit's sold out.
Honestly, I'm juiced up, bro. Like, for real, I'm over here delivering T-shirts to people and our supporters who bought t-shirts for the show tonight, so I'm standing outside the barbershop and chopping it up with you and I gotta do this and do that, but I ain't even tripping because by the time 7 o'clock comes, man, I'm gonna be the wrong joker to fuck with. I'm ready! We're ready.
Is there anything in the works for a Dallas show in the near future?
Good question. It's all tentative right now, but the goal is April, for sure.
Anything else you want to add to people who might be new to The Outfit, TX?
I want everybody to tune in and grow with us. I promise, we have everybody's best interest at heart. We wanna see Texas in its rightful position, and we wanna see the South in its rightful position. We all love music, but we love music. I ain't lying. We just got fired from Pappadeaux -- like two days ago. We don't have jobs. I look at the game right now and I just don't feel it, and I'm tired of that shit. I'm tired of hip-hop being ragged on. I'm tired of rap being treated like it's a fucking joke. We got people on Worldstar every day making a fucking mockery of this shit. I'm tired! At the end of the day, music is probably the next best thing we have on earth -- next to women. And it's something that's supposed to make you feel. It's something that you can't even see, but it changes a whole room's emotion. So, we just want to get back to the point where hip-hop has that. Where you can turn on MTV Jams or satellite radio and you can fucking forget everything you're dealing with. That's what it was for me when I heard "Ms. Jackson" or when I heard "High Life" or even some East Coast shit. But especially some other genres -- y'know, Frankie Beverly and Maze or the Isley Brothers. You can feel them. So, anyway, I'm sorry. Bear with me, I get on my soapbox. We just wanna do this. We wanna do this the right way. I live one time, and this is what I feel like God has made me to do. And that's it.
Stream The Outfit, TX's Starships & Rockets: Cooly Fooly Space Age Funk in full