Meet Viper, the Man Behind “You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack”
It’s an ineluctable truth that keeping up with #longform and #mp3 on the Internet is an impossible task. But the flip side to this hornet’s nest of things flashing for your attention is the long tail of modern-day underground culture. Buried deep within a labyrinthine maze of broken links, hastily formatted webpages, Youtube videos with less than 5,000 views, there is transcendent internet magic just waiting for someone stumble onto it and share it with the world.
Enter Viper and “You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack,” which the Chicago Reader highlighted last week both for its idiosyncratic sonics and creative approach to grammar. It’s a title that demands attention but it’s also a hell of a trip, a hypnotic anchor oozing with ominous, sluggish menace via Viper’s tar pit bubble of a voice and that glitchy, needle-stuck-on-the-record “beat.” (Sort of like SALEM, but without all of the authenticity issues.) Some further time with Viper’s discography revealed upwards of a dozens of mixtapes, many of which are on Spotify, filled with plainly-titled gangland koans like “That There’s A Stash Spot” and “I Sell Dope Boy,” all of which varies in quality—he, too, was unable to escape the Auto-Tune craze—but the best songs using his molasses flow and consistently eerie production (most of which he does himself) to evoke a hyper-stoned lassitude. I’m sure “You’ll Cowards” was forwarded around because of the title, but make no mistake: this is cold as ice, astonishingly pleasurable drug music that’s deeply rooted in the chopped n’ screwed sounds of his Houston hometown. Who cares if you’d never mistake him for a lyrical gymnast?
Originally written in 2007, “You’ll Cowards” has shot up past 50,000 views on Youtube and seems destined for a second life as a slice of outsider art, crowning Viper an alternate reality Lil B, were the Based God a perpetually slowed-down gangbanger. (Two representative quotes, left through Viper’s YouTube account: ”It’s good to see my extreme underratedness in the rap industry has not gone unnoticed…even in the twilight of my career” and, “The era of the real is at hand!”) Viper is on Twitter, too, and after a quick back-and-forth he agreed to an interview, which he requested occur via text message.
Noisey: What was the motivation behind writing “You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack”?
Viper: I wrote “Cowards” when I had just got jumped into my gang 5-9 Piru. I was selling a little crack with my gang brothers and we had to always test the whip on a batch of work by taking a hit to make sure it was an A-1 batch before we closed out a batch before we closed out a batch or we’d sell out slow. I was still in college and making music at the time but I was slanging, too. I made the song just to tell people not to be judgmental in life especially when dealing with drugs or being judgmental to drug dealers. I’ve done every drug there is to do and even though I’m a successful real estate dealer I dabble in a few drugs every now and then with my gang brothers or friends just to show I’m still in touch with the streets and I don’t walk around with my nose up.
In a nutshell the motivation behind “You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack” was this: though drugs aren’t for everyone we shouldn’t be judgmental of those who do them ‘cause pointing the one finger at them points four back at us.