- “Lil’ Shop of Horrors” feat. BoiGrl
- “Santa Muerte”
- “Heaven’s Gate”
You’ve been exposed to music since the day you were born. Your parents played all of their favorite records while you were a baby and this helped mold your musical taste even before you were old enough to speak. I’m blessed to have parents on two different ends of the musical spectrum. My dad is a classic rock guy so I grew up listening to the likes of Aerosmith, Van Halen, and all of the popular stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. My mom on the other hand was a pop and R&B fan. Thanks to her I found a love for 80’s pop music along with stuff like TLC, Boyz II Men, Prince, and Michael Jackson. As cliche as it sounds, music is the universal language. Conversations are started based on your favorite songs, in public and on social media. Music is the universal language because it’s relatable. Hearing a song after a breakup that describes your mood isn’t just for you but there are thousands of other people who are going through what you are at that exact moment. Music is trendy and sounds good to the ear but it’s used to mask the artist’s’ emotions as well as our own.
Aurora, IL artist Howie Stackz is great at making trendy sounding music while using it to mask real life. His 2014 outing, Catfish Aquariums, is littered with tracks that sound great sonically but have a message (he has dropped two projects prior to RHPS, Humidity and thirteenfiftyone). Stackz had been quiet since the release of that project but on Halloween he turned up with an eclectic sounding mixtape titled Rocky Howie Picture Show. As one can see, the title borrows from the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show movie. This is also an indication that things could get weird once you hit play. Don’t worry, Tim Curry doesn’t pop up in drag and start singing out of nowhere. I promise. I’ve listened quite a few times and no Tim Curry, although that could have been interesting.
What Howie does with RHPS is take us on a weird ride that becomes sobering once you capture what he’s saying in his lyrics. “Coackroach” kicks off like you’re going to a creepy carnival with its nauseating synths and flutes before the 808’s kick in with Howie starting things off with some truth and some bragging. Most of the project plays like this as it’s a roller coaster of fun lyrics and bars to make you think. This is more noticeable on “Lil’ Shop of Horrors”, mainly towards the end of the first verse. Howie offers his thoughts on knowledge not being evil and how religion turns people into slaves before the BoiGrl hook kicks in.
Roller coasters are going to have their highs but then there are also the lows. It’s basic physics: what goes up must come down. Where RHPS starts to drop are the songs Howie did over industry production. “Strangehouse” sees Stackz taking a swing at Gucci Mane’s “Trap House 3” intro and while he has some fun it doesn’t do much for the listener in separating himself from the flow Gucci used on the original. That is until the second verse. Things begin to pick up on the second half but the coaster goes back down on “Mundane Lifestyle”. This is Howie’s attempt at using Future’s “Honest” beat and it doesn’t go over well. Lyrically it’s good but you can’t help but hear Future’s version over what Stackz is spitting.
RHPS ends on a great yet somber note with “Heaven’s Gate (OUTRO)”. The production is hollow and Howie opens up personally, even talking about the death of his mother. This is a great example of the potential that Howie Stackz has as an artist. He spins topics in ways you don’t think about and has a solid ear for production. Rockie Howie Picture Show was made to be weird and stand out and it succeeded. There’s nothing that sounds like this that was released in 2016 and there won’t be for a long time. Artists are afraid to step outside of the box with their creativity and this is why Howie Stackz is going to succeed. He’s one of the few that’s not afraid and that’s going to help him in the future.
Flame Emoji Rating: 🔥 🔥 🔥 (out of 5)