For Paris Texas, “genre” is a watery concept. While the hip-hop duo is often introduced as such, their sound is a wild salad of influences: Notes of grunge, R&B, noise, electropop, the list goes on. “These days, in the music industry, genres get divvied up — like confetti,” says rapper-producer, Felix — one half of the ensemble. “Our sound is a lot of things,” adds Louie Pastel, Felix’s counterpart. “A little punk, a little classic hip-hop, but most of all, it’s free, and it’s fun. That’s the best way I can describe it.”
The pair met in 2018 in community college in South Central, Los Angeles, where they began making music almost immediately — and by 2021, they’d already released their first single, HEAVY METAL, along with an accompanying, quasi-experimental music video, featuring the two artists, bleeding, on the streets of Los Angeles. And sure enough, that brand of lawless, creative chaos did not go unnoticed. Instantly, the group garnered a loyal, sizable following, and within months, they’d dropped two more singles (SITUATIONS and FORCE OF HABIT) — all before releasing their first full-length (eight-track) album, BOY ANONYMOUS.Now, nearly two years later, the duo has yet to relinquish any of the boundary-eclipsing, unrelentingly free energy that characterizes that first album — it’s just that now, they’ve become something of a household name. “Honestly, we’re still growing into our music, all the time. We’re still peeling back layers. And it’s going to be fun to see what happens next,” Felix explains. That said, the two creators are already well on their way to building their legacy. In fact, this November, Paris Texas headlined at UNCHARTED — a lively L.A. party hosted by DeLeón Tequila in honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop’s inception. As a spirits brand committed to pushing boundaries and defying expectations, it’s only natural that DeLeón collaborate with artists like Paris Texas, the likes of whom are equally committed to reconceptualizing — or at least broadening — our notion of what, exactly, hip-hop even sounds like. We caught up with the duo after the show to chat about the music industry, experimentation, and what the next 50 years of the genre will hold.
How did you first get interested in hip-hop music? “My love for hip-hop started when I was super young. My sister played it around the house a lot, and I just listened — then I’d steal her Walkman and listen to Jay-Z and Ludacris albums. The more I listened, the more I noticed the layers and the depth in what people were saying — the puzzling cadence of words; the ways people were playing with language; the ways people were going beyond standard lyricism and pushing boundaries. Then, when I started trying to make music for the first time, I was in high school, just sitting in class, writing in my notebook and shit, and syncing lyrics to whatever rap beats I thought were fire at the time.” — Felix “I feel like my love for hip-hop just came from growing up being Black. Coming of age in L.A., it felt like it was just kind of embedded in our culture. It felt like the best possible way for us to express ourselves. I started making music when I was 19 — or at least, that’s when I started making music seriously. And from there, it was all a groove. I was just along for the journey, experimenting.” — Louie PastelHow is the hip-hop industry changing right now? “If I’m being honest, I think the changes in the hip-hop industry over the last few years have been good and bad. It’s almost hard to describe, because I still feel like such a newcomer — I haven’t put in the work yet that so many artists around me have. But at least right now, for me — with no disrespect to anybody — I feel like the genre of hip-hop is starting to become a little more bluesy, overall. It’s more melodic — and I’m guilty of playing into that, too. It’s taking more cues from R&B. And yeah, hip-hop has always had melody, but sometimes, the genre blend doesn’t work. Sometimes it feels like we need a little more of what hip-hop was at its roots.” — Felix
“I think the industry has changed a lot for the better in the last few years. Right now, there aren’t really middlemen, anymore, so you can kind of put your music out there without needing to know all the right people. You can get your stuff up on SoundCloud or build a fan base, and record in your bedroom, without having to go through a super intense process of being discovered and working with a label. It’s probably not better for the money-makers in the industry, but it's definitely better for creative freedom and all that noise.” — Louie PastelWhat are your hopes & predictions for the future of hip-hop? “I do think we live in this time when artists like us totally feel this freedom to branch out, and create, and experiment, and do things differently. I feel like that’s what hip-hop’s future looks like even if people are still holding back right now. But at the same time, a complete overabundance of that would be kind of lame, man. For me, I’m just so worried about being corny or ridiculous or making a mockery of myself, since we do get experimental.” — Felix“I think the future of hip-hop is going to be way more inclusive. Right now, it seems like everybody's in one spot, making their music, but they’re afraid of looking corny. And because of that fear, they put themselves in a position where they’re just making music that sounds like the people who came before them. But I really think the future will have more experimental artists on the scene.“I think right now, we're in a very exciting moment where people want something new, and as artists, Felix and I can can offer them that. I don't know if we're going to be the best at it — but hopefully we will be. Hopefully we'll make our magnum opus pretty soon.“But at bottom, I think the legacy of hip-hop will always just be the fact that this music marks the beginning of when Black kids and Black men — who weren't scammers or thugs or whatever — were able to do stuff they wanted to do, and be successful at it.” — Louie Pastel