Houdini, (a.k.a Dimarjio Antonio Jenkins) was one of the brightest stars coming out of Toronto. Moving independently, he’d amassed 300,000+ monthly listeners, millions of YouTube views, dropped two full length mixtapes and – mere weeks ago – had dropped his underGROUND EP. Everything Houdini, even just at 21, showed others that it’s possible to make it in the city without ever having to leave. His collaborations were homegrown and with them he generated a tight knit, cult audience that followed him wherever he led. Houdini had everything: earworm hooks, street cred, co-signs, that hometown hero aura and it was all working, until his tragic end.
In celebration of Houdini’s life and what he accomplished in his short time on Earth, CJRU presents six of the most important and defining songs of Houdini’s career.
456 (Honourable Mention)
Although this isn’t Houdini’s song per se, it’s haunting keys and ear splitting 808’s begs for a mention on this list. Houdini’s frequent collaborations paid off early, with him, TallupTwinz and Burna Bandz flexing and repping Wassas. The Tallup Twinz come with a clever, infectious hook only to pass it off to HOU for a flow flipping verse.
6. No Hook
Originally billed as a freestyle, Houdini spits for three minutes and sixteen seconds straight on ‘No Hook’. He flexes his prodigious trapping, denouncing haters and clowning all those who dare challenge him. It’s a rare freestyle, where HOU rhymes “notorious”, “glorious” and “Morpheus” in succession and it fits like a glove. Houdini packs this one with a bunch of subtly changed flows and mini rhyme schemes that keep him endlessly running downhill. Why have one hook, when you can pack a bunch of tiny ones together?
5. BELMONT BOYZ
Houdini is unique in a way that he telegraphs his verses. Belmont Boyz is a sci-fi trap romp but Houdini’s intro is what sells it. By telegraphing half of his verse as the intro and then hammering the hook after the floating, sci-fi synths Houdini creates this cyclical nature to ‘Belmont Boyz’ that’s hypnotic upon repeat listens.
P.S. The music video is phenomenal
‘Wockhardt’’s twinkling keys, paired with Houdini’s auto-tuned lax delivery and short bars create a morose atmosphere. When Houdini raps, it’s typically a braggadocious flex about packs, women, strap or cash but here, it’s a reflection on what he’s done until this point.
‘Myself’ is a personification of Houdini. Independence was central to Houdini’s career and the fact that he was gaining such intense popularity without the help of a label was immense. A lot of rappers say that they did everything on their own, all whilst being signed to a major label. When Houdini says “I don’t need you, all I need is myself, I wasn’t asking nobody for help,” he was one of the few who could truly make that claim.
Fit with couplet, multi-syllabic and back-to-back rhymes, Houdini drops the stickiest hook of his career. He conditions you from the very beginning with the first line of the track “Gats on gats, oh, straps all in the backseat” and never lets you forget it. With his words dancing between guitar strings his rhymes land on the claps bringing emphasis to every “pack” and “strap”. Finishing J Neat’s verses over a playful guitar a pounding 808’s shows HOU can be an excellent teammate while still being the star of the show.
1. Late Nights
Where it all started. The legendary connection between Burna Bandz and Houdini started here with Houdini’s hushed hook and Bandz’s lethargic flow. It’s slow, it’s dark and it’s haunting. Those five words “Late nights, what’s the price” ring in your ears every time the streetlights come on – and with it – the memory of who Houdini was and what could have been.
In remembrance of Houdini and his art, CJRU has compiled a playlist of Houdini’s greatest hits. In it, you can find Houdini’s biggest hits, slipperiest flows, stickiest hooks and trappiest beats. You can find that playlist on Spotify, link below!