Custom Cars

The history at the back of ‘slabs,’ the custom automobiles with an essential area in Houston’s hip-hop community

2 Mins read

Narrator: They’re loud, vivid, brightly colored, and impossible to overlook. A quick look, they might seem like easy lowriders. However, their iconic elbow wheels, high-gloss sweet paint, and over-the-pinnacle stereo structures set them aside within the international of custom motors. These are slabs.

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Said to be an acronym for gradual, loud, and bangin’, slabs are a kind of modified car that originated within Houston’s metropolis. Their seems can be traced to the over-extravagant rides featured in 1970s blaxploitation films and mainstream films. For the ones looking to learn extra about slabs, there’s the best one person to speak to – Houston native and slab aficionado Langston Wilkins.
Langston Wilkins: I’m a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, researcher, and I’ve been studying and writing about the slab way of life for the remaining numerous years. Slabs emerged in Houston, Texas’ African American groups within the mid-Eighties. More especially, it emerged inside the streets. This becomes the mid-Eighties in the course of crack technology. Some young guys were getting notably wealthy promoting capsules, and that they used slabs as a way to show off their achievement, whilst also the usage of it as an artistic outlet. But in the early Nineties, slabs moved out of that experience and have become part of the nearby hip-hop lifestyle. And it’s while the slab scene certainly increased and grew.

Langston: A slab is usually an older version, big-bodied, American sedan – Cadillac, Lincoln, Oldsmobile, etc. And it is decorated or geared up with diverse sorts of body additions, the primary and most vital one being the edges called “swingers” or “elbows.” Those are those cone-like rims that poke out pretty some distance. On the trunk, you have got what’s referred to as a “fifth wheel,” that is, a rim it’s cut in half and enclosed in a fiberglass casing. Also, explosive stereo structures that rattle or shake the automobile and shake the environment while paying attention to rap tracks. And inside the trunk, you often have known as ‘trunk displays,’ that are neon or every so often glass signs and symptoms that deliver unique messages to their communities.

Narrator: With one of these outstanding appearance, overt style, and capability for expression, it is no wonder Houston’s huge collection of hip-hop artists have embraced slab culture. Langston: I might say slabs are the visible element of Houston’s hip-hop lifestyle. It’s like graffiti or style in different scenes. Slabs are a form of material culture that illuminate the values, attitudes, and thoughts of the nearby hip-hop groups. I suppose it is the ‘Mwanga’s that separate slabs from different custom-car cultures. That’s why they’re mentioned so much. But past that, I would say it’s the bigger hip-hop community, the Houston hip-hop network, that makes slabs unique. A slow sound marks Houston hip-hop. It’s psychedelic music. It’s atmospheric music. And we see all of these traits in slab way of life. Slabs are meant to be driven really, certainly sluggish. Slab drivers typically weave inside and out of lanes whilst riding their automobiles. So a slab is not just a type of vehicle. It’s a whole revel in, and it is a whole lifestyle, so it’s extraordinary.

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