Stomping Grounds: The Niceguys (Houston, Texas)

The Niceguys
Photo credit: Jamaal Ellis
The Niceguys are doing something right. Very, very right. For a debut hip-hop act coming out of Houston, Texas, they sound like they’re veterans of the game. Their first full-length album, The Show, is out today. You can download the whole album for free or buy a physical copy. If you need more convincing, check out the video for “Mr. Perfect” right here if you’re interested in big, classic-sounding rhymes and samples a la Jay-Z, Kanye and other industry big-hitters:

We had a chance to chat with Free, producer and one quarter of the Niceguys, about what it’s like living in Houston, the best wings & waffles and where the only known jukebox in the whole city is located. Read on, readers.
What’s your town’s nickname?
City of Syrup, H-Taaahn, Screwston, Tha H. There are millions more that I don’t remember.
What’s your nickname for your town?
Why do you live there?
Came out for college at the University of Houston.
Did you grow up there? If not, what brought you there?
Came for school, stayed for music. I met all my fellow members of the group The Niceguys at U of H in 2006. Been in H Town ever since and love this city.
What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?
Countless weird things; too many to name. I honestly can’t think of any off the top of my head though, haha.
What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
Discovery Green is pretty awesome and Rice Village is cool. The Heights area is also very, very cool — my favorite section of town.
What is your favorite local event or festival?
The rodeo that goes on every year is pretty cool. Last time I went, John Legend performed. It was a blast. It’s been going for a long time, and has a lot of tradition in the city.
What is the best time of year to be there?
Anytime but summer — it’s blazing hot out here. Winter is usually pretty legit; not too cold but cold enough. Oddly enough, last winter was one of the coldest ever in Houston.
Who is your favorite local celebrity?
Probably Beyonce and Kelly Rowland, mainly because they’re hot. I’ll take Kelly though, heard she’s single… Someone put me down.
Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?
Man, that’s tough. I like Brian O’Neill’s because it’s a really cool spot to kick it and drink. Flying Saucer — best beer spot in town. And Ruby Tequila’s; their drink called the Dos Rita, made with a margarita and Dos Equis beer, is incredible, and probably my favorite margarita.
Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
Only jukebox I seen is at this spot called Marquis. In Rice Village, I think. So I guess it’s them.
Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?
Yeah, we’ve done plenty of shows out here. So far my favorite place is U of H. We did two shows on their campus last year and they were lovely. Also, House of Blues — really awesome venue. Warehouse Live is legit as well.
Does where you live influence your music?
To be honest, no, it really doesn’t. My influence doesn’t really go to a region or city; it goes to a genre: soul music. That’s where all of my inspiration to make the beats that I make comes from.
What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
Woodlands Pavilion. My favorite show there was Kanye’s Glow in the Dark tour, one of my favorite concert experiences ever. I was inspired, to say the least. Kanye really knows to how to put on an incredible show. Props to that man.
What is your favorite local band?
Mantis. Shout outs to my boy Nick Grier and the whole gang. Oh, and THE NICEGUYS! Haha, because I’m in that group!
What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
Mama’s Café has the best chicken fried chicken. Frenchy’s has the best fried chicken. Pappadeaux has the best brunch, and Breakfast Klub’s wings and waffles are the best thing in the world. Their whole menu is great.
What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
Bookstores, really. I don’t go to many local mom and pop shops. Not that I don’t have love for ’em, I just don’t know about any, and between my collection, bookstores, and the internet, I’ve got more than enough records for listening, collecting and sampling. If there are any dope mom and pop stores, someone point me in the right direction. I’d love to check some out. Also, R.I.P. Fat Beats, in LA and NY. A legendary hip-hop record store that’s about to close — pretty sad.
What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
Houston Press, Envy Mag, the Chronicle, Hater Magazine, 002, Clutch City Mag, and the list goes on.
What is your favorite local shop?
Premium Goods is my favorite sneaker store. A Front is my favorite skate shop. DJ and Coreia wuttup! Huge shout outs to Jen, Joe, Cody, Ryan, and the whole PG fam as well.
If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
Los Angeles, New York… or Paris! I’ve never been to any of them either, haha. At this stage of my life, though, Houston is just fine.