HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A New York artist is highlighting Houston rap artists in a pretty cool way. Have you seen the purple signs posted around town? Houston rappers who have rapped about certain areas now have signs posted in those spots, complete with the lyrics. There’s one on Scott Street at Yellowstone featuring lines from rapper Big Pokey.
You may have heard of the signs popping up across the country and the artist is left ducking and hiding from officers, but here in Houston you may be surprised at our city's response.
Houston rappers rep their neighborhood singing about Willowridge High School, MacGregor Park, the street they're from, their favorite Houston restaurant or as Bun B put it, his "chrome looking more glassy than the Transco tower”. Now there are signs posted in these locations complete with the lyrics that Bayou City rappers Z-Ro, Big Pokey and others, sang about.
"It just seemed like something myself and my close friends would think was cool,” explains New York Artist Jay Shells. Shells actually travels the country putting up signs of rap lyrics in the location that is being rapped about. He normally has to dodge police because posting signs, unless you work for public works, isn't exactly legal. "But at the same time, it doesn't damage the property I'm affixing the signs to. I like to think because people steal them quickly it's kind of no harm, no foul,” says Shells.
Shells just put up the Houston signs over Labor Day weekend and the sign featuring Paul Wall's lyrics on Southlea Street is gone. So is Bun B's “Transco Tower” sign. Devin the Dude's at King Best Mall and Travis Scott's at Toyota Center have also disappeared.
Shells project has drawn some unlikely fans. "I love the creativity and spirit of the project,” explains Debbie McNulty the Director of Mayor Sylvester Turner's Office of Cultural Affairs. While other cities may be running Shells off, Houston city officials believe the signs are just what Shells intended -- art.
“This is a dream come true,” smiles Shells.
”We are one of the best places in the world for the arts. People move here from all over the world and bring their traditions, cultures, practices, music, art, food and that's one of the things that makes the city such a great place to live,” adds McNulty.
The City Of Houston has reached out to Shells and plans to work with him so he can post the signs legally here in the Bayou City.