Louie Dollars' new single is a hip-hop bus tour of San Antonio memories and attractions
Louie Dollars thrives on collaboration.
Dollars, the husky hip-hop emcee known to his parents as Louis Perez, has spent the last several years performing as part of the duo KRIONIX. His creative partner in KRIONIX, Gideon Hasty (aka Seven-One) generated the beats, produced the tracks, and even contributed to the rhymes.
It was Hasty who suggested two years ago that he and Dollars concoct a 7-inch musical homage to San Antonio. Hasty initiated the project with a soulful sample from the Royal Jesters, and the two emcees agreed to each write a verse about their most potent memories of their hometown.
But much weightier issues swiftly derailed Hasty's musical plans. In 2002, he shot and wounded a local man in a dispute over a relationship between the man's son and Hasty's teenage daughter. Early this year, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Garza Unit in Beeville.
"About two or three weeks before we were going to go into the studio, he was sentenced," Dollars says. "Over the last two years, we were working fast, 'cause we didn't know how long we had."
The record might have never made it past the conceptual stage if not for the production help of DJ Tech-Neek (real name: Rene Quiroz) who stepped into the breach after Hasty's legal problems emerged, and after Dollars' hopes of teaming with DJs Jester and Donnie D fell through (Dollars and Tech-Neek will perform together on Saturday, September 25 at Lounge @ Ave. B.)
Tech-Neek is a recent addition to Prhymemates, a local underground-hip-hop collective that also includes KRIONIX. By pure coincidence, he and Dollars share a background in military families. Dollars was born in Killeen, where his dad served in the Army, and spent parts of his childhood in Hawaii and Los Angeles. Tech-Neek was born in San Antonio, but went on to spend eight years in Germany.
"In Germany, you can go to the clubs at 14, so I was able to see people scratch and juggle right in front of me," Tech-Neek says. "When I scratch or juggle, it's not to make it sound good, it's more like I'm trying to say something, like I'm singing.
"When Louie told me what this song was about, I already knew what samples to use. I have a lot of old records 'cause I've been DJing since middle school."
The record has met with respectable local sales as well as some airplay on KSYM 90.1-FM. "Some people who are buying it don't even have vinyl record players, they just like the idea that it's on vinyl," Tech Neek says. The person who inspired the track isn't among those with a copy of the 7-inch. "He's seen the cover but I can't send him the record," Dollars says of Hasty. "We write each other pretty frequently. I let him know what's going on here, 'cause he says, 'Man, I'm so bored.' He says he just reads a lot and stays out of trouble."
KRIONIX was a consistently prolific duo, but since Hasty's imprisonment, Dollars finds himself unmotivated to create new music. He misses having a catalyst to spark his imagination. Performing presents its own set of problems. "After he got locked up, I had a big show I had to do at College Station," Dollars says. "I did it, and I thought it sucked bad. I was doing all his rhymes and mine. There was no breathing time, and it was hard."
Partly because his KRIONIX is in limbo, and partly because he's got young children, Dollars sees himself winding up his performing career in the next two years.
"I'm only going to be doing a couple more projects and then I'm going to call it quits, 'cause I don't want to be rapping when I'm 30. I'll still be active within the local hip-hop community. I'll try to help out as much as I can. It might call me back, but I can't see myself onstage." •