ZZ Top "I Gotsta Get Paid" Houston Rap

Houston Rap Connects on ZZ Top’s “I Gotsta Get Paid”

Fat Tony and Tom Cruz speak on ZZ Top's cover of a H-Town anthem.

ZZ Top "25 Lighters"

America, you look good at 236 years old. You’re celebrating like it’s 1999 on this extended celebration of your independence. We know you like to live it up with your BBQs, open fire hydrants, and block-busting fireworks during this time of year. At 236, age ain’t nothin’ but a number ma. One of your greatest products has been your sons, ZZ Top rocking for forty-some-odd-years, knowing no expiration date on scoring many of 4th of Julys. This year, their album Texicali stoked the flames of patriotism across the nation. You know where they also got that burning sensation from? None other than their home of Texas, where the stars at night are big and bright. These superstars of Texas rock and roll, and blues made a big impact last month when their four track EP Texicali dropped, featuring the standout track, “I Gotsta Get Paid.” Mass Appeal recently revisited “25 Lighters,” the song ZZ Top covered for “I Gotsta Get Paid.” Those bold lyrics uttered from the wizard beards of rock music were originally rapped by DJ DMD, Lil Keke and Fat Pat, and later honored by Das Racist on the “Luv It Mayne” remix (featuring Fat Tony and Bo P, produced by Tom Cruz). Tony and Tom checked in with MA to talk about the significance of the H-Town classic, before they became stars in their own right. Salute!


Fat Tony: I fuck with ZZ Top forever. That’s some real H-Town rock ‘n’ roll legends right there, my nigga. I just did a lil DJ thing at a hardcore/metal show in Richmond, VA and jammed their cover loud as fuck. Growing up, “25 Lighters” was the biggest song of all-time, in my mind. Lil Keke and Fat Pat’s verses were ingrained deeply into the brains of every young black kid living on the southside of Houston, especially in my neighborhood 3rd Ward which was the home to many stars like Big Moe. I literally heard “25 Lighters” every day, either on the radio or out the mouth of a fellow classmate. So you know I was bout it, bout it when Tom Cruz sampled it for “Luv It Mayne.”

Hearing Murs say “R.I.P. Fat Pat” before his verse really took me by surprise. Sometimes I forget how Big Screw and all that ’90s Houston rap really was. Being a kid, it was just the locals making incredible music for the locals. But now that I’m a man, I see it spread to underground hip hop fans everywhere! What was once just my beloved regional sound is now a big influence for anybody taking the time to stencil TRILL on their clothes or slow down a song in audacity for their Tumblr. Crazy shit. I still remember my mama picking me up from school and informing me of Fat Pat’s death while waiting in the drive-thru at Whataburger. He was really the star of the scene in his last year of life. Everyone thought he’d break out of Texas but now his soul is forever resting here with us. Much respect to Port Arthur’s DJ DMD, the same great town that birthed UGK. Shout out to Das Racist who got on the “Luv It Mayne” remix and helped Fat Pat’s voice reach many more people.


Tom Cruz: My mother’s family is from Houston—pretty much all in the 3rd Ward. Being that I didn’t grow up with her, I’d visit a lot: the summers, and holidays, over the years— most importantly the years where Texan rap culture was at its zenith—the mid-to-late ’90s. At 14/15-ish, my older cousins used to sneak me into this ratchet ass club called T-Town using one of their expired licenses, and 10 extra bucks. In T-Town you could see the physical manifestation of Trill (LOL). There were boppers exposing they titties dancing on speakers, doing the Southside, the Bunny Hop, and my personal favorite, Monkey on a Stick. The height of the evening was actually in the parking lot, where my cousins would try to grab girls arms as they passed (I had more game, talking patios to them with that Black and Mild in my ear…LOL). In that parking lot is where I first heard “25 Lighters” distorting loudly from a slab, the screwed version. The phrase “luv it mane” for me kinda expressed the whole scene. Years later I’m trying to give Tony a back drop that encompassed all the adventures: from when I threw that epic BBQ in Pearland with my cousin Laylah, to when I was trying to get K.C.’s little cousin to jump off but everybody knew I was also talking to Andrea, and my fake cousin Beau Ana… Aaww cot damn… All in one phrase I could sample, “luv it mane” was it. BTW, before Lil Flip hit the national scene, believe it or not, his tapes was throwed as shit, ‘member that! Hahahaha. “Spill my drink on my clothes… I can do dat.”


ZZ Top "I Gotsta Get Paid" Houston Rap

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