Kirko Bangz Credit: Michael Loccisano

When rappers began to gravitate towards singing at the beginning of this decade, Kirk Randle, better known as Kirko Bangz, infused his vocals with the spirit of his hometown, Houston, and the city’s influence is all over his breakout 2011 single, “Drank in My Cup.” The song’s title is an obvious reference to the recreational abuse of cough syrup popularized in Houston hip-hop, and its glacial pace and resonant melody are steeped in the southern swang of H-Town rap. Kirko Bangz applies soulful, supple, and slow musical methods to his vocal performances; throughout last year’s Back Flossin (300 Entertainment) and his August mixtape Progression 17 he drags out words as if he’s watching the last syllable fall like a grain of sand in an hourglass. He can stand at attention when he wants to; on his May single “Swang N Bang” he busts out a rubbery, adroit flow that marries vintage funk with Houston rap history—the song title, and its euphoria, is a nod to “chopped and screwed” forerunner E.S.G.’s crucial 1994 cut “Swangin’ & Bangin.’”   v