Above Below Average by HOUSTON HEARD


On his debut, 11-track album Above Below Average, alternative rapper and composer HOUSTON HEARD delivers sharp, quick rhymes with a flow so eloquent you might forget that he is just a teenager. Based out of Williamsburg, Va., HOUSTON HEARD is unapologetic track after track and the pop synthesized beats are equally captivating.

Following an intro track just shy of two minutes, HOUSTON HEARD introduces us to his skills with a few strokes of his keyboard before initiating his rhymes. The music itself is very bright and melodic, with a syncopated beat that can simultaneously get your head bobbing to the song and put a smile on your face. On the second track, “Tell Em,” he does not miss a beat in bringing the same energy and emotional reactions. The music is very reminiscent of OWL CITY and MC LARS.

The fourth track, “Society,” also features another Williamsburg, Va. rapper BRIAN B and Chandler Matkins of BIG MAMA SHAKES. Together, along with HOUSTON HEARD, they form the group DISTORTED AFTERSTORY. The song itself is very unique in that it criticizes what society considers important, including having to meet expectations set by others, how “people judge you how you dress and the people that you slept with,” and how social media is more important than building real connections with other people. In the end of the song, HOUSTON HEARD has that last word in an a capella rhyme saying, “The only thing changing with the seasons is the weather. As people we’re supposed to get together but our ties are constantly severed, and we’re left on our knees with nothing but our diminished pride.”

After a brief interlude lasting just over a minute where HOUSTON HEARD lets the piano do the talking, he breaks into the eighth track “Won’t Be Easy,” which discusses moving on from a break up. The song is easy going and carefree while reflecting on what he may have done wrong to cause it. But he realizes that he is better off without that person and is happy to move forward. It’s a feel good pop song, and it helps to show more of his vocal range.

The album concludes with “Brain Drain,” opening with more key strokes and cultural criticism. His lyrics flow out so smoothly, and the elements of the song mesh together so cohesively, one might assume that HOUSTON HEARD has a higher status than he currently does in the music scene. Regardless, this album is proof that he will be one to keep an eye on as his career develops.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.

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