Hailing from Washington, D.C., is an artist you never knew you needed. Songwriter, hip-hop recording artist, and musician T. Houze is coming in hot with his latest 14-track album, 'Midnight Season.'
Besides the musical realm, T. Houze is also a photographer and creative director who gained access to photo and video technology in high school in the 2000s. After becoming enamored with the art of storytelling and poetry through hip-hop (thanks to influences like Lupe Fiasco, A Tribe Called Quest, Kendrick Lamar, and The Foreign Exchange), a star was born.
Now releasing his conceptual new project, 'Midnight Season,' T. Houze mentioned this album was inspired by "living in Washington D.C. and embracing the nightlife and concert life." Initially created and scrapped in 2013 as a 'therapy album,' T. Houze revisited the project during the pandemic and brought it back to life.
The journey begins with the introductory track, "August Breeze (It's Just the Feeling)," alongside angelic vocalist Millicent. This song opens like a nostalgic and old-school hip-hop track with a laid-back, groovy drum arrangement, wavy background synths, and Millicent's distant oohs and aahs. Both artists at hand give us such a calming and dreamy experience that truly offers that sweet summer air. However, T. Houze ensures that he makes the experience worthwhile by portraying his love for performing live and the many audience members he sees time and again.
Moving into another transcendent piece with the second track, "Breathe In," this soulful tune features the warm and tender vocal stylings of KOZA. The piece begins with a hazy and distant synth melody that's later met with a sensual and groovy drum arrangement where T. Houze makes his passionate vocal appearance. This song perfectly sets the vibrant nightlife scene through lyrics of the many souls seeking a refreshing experience in unison. KAZO amplifies that refreshing sensation towards the song's hook with her airy and soft vocals to send us into bliss.
Hitting play on the third track, "Simple Things," this is the first track on the album that we hear T. Houze's solo performance take the stage and serenade us from all aspects. The song gently opens with another nostalgic, soulful, and groovy hip-hop/r&b sonic arrangement while T. Houze's bars remind us of life's simple things and being in touch with one's higher self. This track perfectly represents T. Houze's artwork; he effortlessly takes us into varying sonic atmospheres while ensuring we enjoy the ride through his laidback and composed aura.
The track prior then transitions into the same keyboard melody within the fourth track, "Interlude I," where T. Houze opens up about how long it's taken to bring this record to life. He sets the scene with his gentle keyboard and warm speaking voice in front of an eager crowd ready to begin their night's adventure. Mild conversation lingers in the back to give the album more of an inclusive and engaging feel, but T. Houze declares that the only thing he needs from the audience are ears and energy...letting it all "Simmer."
As we transition into track number five, "Simmer," T. Houze ups the album's modernity with a crisp and clean synth arrangement, the most sensual r&b percussion, and his composed performance. Although the sonics bring a modern edge, there's a certain cool, calm, and collected nature within T. Houze's vocal performance that brings us back in time to smooth 90s rap that has truly stood the test of time. The Washington-based rapper continues to enhance the theme of a picturesque night out where the drinks might give you courage, the green might help you loosen, but the music is sure to keep you moving.
Taking it down a notch with the groovy and smooth sixth track, "No Sweat," this sweet single features the exciting flow of rapper Nikko Miles. We take a trip back a couple of decades once the bouncy drums, plucky bassline, and Kaytranada-like synths begin pouring through our speakers. What's just as exciting is T. Houze's Fresh Prince of Bell Air-type verse that truly gets us moving and grooving. Rapper Nikko Miles offers a similar vocal tonality to Lil Baby yet gives the song another nostalgic edge while his unique flow and composed bars bring us into another exciting nightlife experience.
Reaching the album's mid-way point with the seventh piece, "Black Hourglass," T. Houze pairs up with the harmonious r&b stylings of vocalist Devin White. The song shimmers open with another deftly-groovy bass lick alongside tightly-wound drum breaks and shiny background synths. T. Houze channels his deep and sultry vocals to deliver his rhythmic bars in this passionate and sultry track. Devin White makes his way in with such a mesmerizing presence that perfectly ups the song's sweet and sensual r&b atmosphere. It's likely this song may represent that part of the night where taking someone home might be the next move...wink wink nudge nudge.
But, before we get into that exciting experience, T. Houze wants to make sure we're all still with him and engaged in the performance through the eighth track, "Interlude II." When asking the crowd if they like what they year, T. Houze receives an eager response while shouting out artists Nikko Miles and Devin White for giving the crowd a dose of energy and excitement during the midnight hour. As a sweet and jazzy instrumental begins to pick up, T. Houze urges the audience to participate even further and pay attention to the layers he continues to pull back throughout the rest of the album.
"Let's get some healing done," says the recording artist in the interlude above, making his way into the ninth track, "Healer," featuring KOZA's blissful vocals once again. The song opens with smooth and tender keyboard melodies alongside sharp drum arrangements that shift the track into a soulful and rejuvenating space. Reaching the hook, KOZA's lush and clean vocals add a soothing and refreshing edge, while T. Houze reminds us that one day will come healing, flushing tears, and forgetting your past woes in order to embrace change for a brighter future.
Dropping "The Bomb" with the ninth track, T. Houze turns it down a notch even further and channels a more lo-fi, reflective, and old school hip-hop/r&b atmosphere while grooving to the song's sweet instrumentals and production. This song offers another composed approach to life; although the peaks and valleys might seem quite chaotic, T. Houze remains calm and cool while reminding himself of his worth. We love this track's smooth and relaxed feel, and we appreciate the introspective edge T. Houze added to such a conceptual album.
Continuing that same relaxed vibe with track number ten, "Midnight's Theme," the song kicks off with various synths and effects while the steady downtempo beat taps through our speakers. Listening to T. Houze's soft and whispery vocals, he flows with bars surrounding a trip of some sort where the paranoia is at level nine. At this point in the night, there's a profound sense of reflection that triggers thoughts of higher reasoning, like what brought you here in the first place. That said, the pressing sense of calmness and clarity is slowly kicking in thanks to T. Houze's words of wisdom and soothing instrumentals.
Making our way to the final tracks of the project with "Interlude III," T. Houze opens this piece with a chill and mellow performance while thanking his crowd for joining him on his midnight show. However, before the night ends, T. Houze has one more track up his sleeve to end the last five minutes with a bang. While the groovy production moves over to the song's end, we transition into the album's final minutes.
Inviting the serene vocal stylings of Valentina Lelà for the thirteenth track, "August Breeze, Pt. 2," this rendition of the album's introductory track offers a sweet piano melody to begin the journey. As Lelà's soulful, powerful, and harmonious vocals appear, she passionately reminds us that we are our only limits and encourages us to reach for the sky with each endeavor. T. Houze makes his confident vocal appearance while emphasizing the importance of vocalizing your feelings and never concealing the power within. This song is truly an "August Breeze," and we feel more refreshed with each listen.
Landing on the album's final and outro track, "Together We Float - Bonus Track," we're introduced to the passionate and bright vocal stylings of Nera Mamić. The sonics take off with another warm and Kaytranada-like drum arrangement that takes us on sonic vacation. In this groovy bonus track, T. Houze expresses the passion he holds for those lively nights out where everyone's grooving to the music without a care in the world. Mamić takes over the hook with her sugary vocals to up the vibe. But, before we know it, both artists bring us to the blissful outro and end the album with a bang.
If you're in need of a thrilling night out on the town, prepare with the many vibes brought to life in T. Houze's latest 14-track album, 'Midnight Season,' now available on all streaming platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, T. Houze. We are very impressed with the exciting and rejuvenating concept in your recent album, 'Midnight Season.' What inspired you to create a project about the nightlife experience?
Thank you so much for having me, and thank you for taking the time to enjoy the album! A lot of the inspiration for the album stemmed from a couple of pivotal moments in the 2010s. Around 2011, I was around artists like Nikko Miles and Devin White (who are featured on the album), who were both creating some amazing music, and I was fascinated by the idea of creating my own project. In the midst of that time, I was also dealing with some self-conscious issues, and I figured the easiest way to tackle them head-on was to sit down and create a full project.
Over the first couple of years, the project didn't come together as I planned, but it allowed me a chance to explore more inspiration while living in downtown Washington D.C. I spent more time going out and experiencing the nightlife more. I often found myself going to a lot of lounges and small concert venues frequently, and I felt that the pandemic really slowed down my time in those spaces, but at the same time made me reflect on those times more to create this album.
What was it like collaborating with the many artists for 'Midnight Season'? Have you worked with these names before?
It was amazing working with all the artists that are featured within the album. About half of the artists featured I knew personally (Nikko Miles, Devin White, Deja B, and Definite D, who's featured on the Bandcamp version of the album). These artists I met between high school and college knew what they all were capable of bringing to the table, so it was important for me to bring on the artists who were supportive of what I've done from the beginning to be here for this project.
The other artists like Nera Mamić, Valentina Ielà, KOZA, and Millicent I met when creating the project as well. While I never met them in person during the recording, they were all great and super collaborative to work with. It was important for me to find musicians that had experience outside of the Hip Hop genre to give the albums its unique tone.
Do you have a favorite track off of 'Midnight Season'? What is it about that track that makes it your personal go-to?
If I had to pick my favorite song, it would have to be "Breathe In." It was one of the earlier songs I recorded, and hearing the chorus with KOZA's vocals really made me more enthusiastic about bringing this project together. The go-to songs that I have been playing a lot more tend to be between Black Hourglass and No Sweat.
What was your main goal regarding the listener's overall experience when hitting play on 'Midnight Season'? What impact did you want the album to have on your audience?
The most important thing for me was to create an after-hours atmosphere throughout the project. I treated the album as if it was made for an intimate concert show, and I was very specific about the pacing and sequencing of the songs as well that travels from the carefree hip hop style songs to more reflective and mysterious as the album progresses. I think for many who know me personally, even seeing me perform songs is very atypical from the person I am, and it made me more driven to really make sure the album opener "August Breeze (It's Just the Feeling)" really was as hard of a hook as I could create.
How can new listeners get to know you through the album 'Midnight Season'? Would you say this album is a solid representation of who you are and the music you aim to create?
I think this album is a faithful representation of who I am and the music I like as well. I was a late bloomer to Hip Hop, and alot of my early upbringing started on Contemporary R&B. As a person who loves music from Kendrick Lamar, Robert Glasper, Lupe Fiasco, and A Tribe Called Quest, I wanted to see how to mix my influences in a way that still represents a lot of the emotions I have as well.