For the first time as long as I've known Roosh Williams, he's late. Actually he's struggling with finding the building where we're supposed to meet. When it rains in Houston, things grind to a halt, double when it's cold. Williams has always looked a bit like a Persian prince, a good-looking guy with a square chin and either some stubble or a full-on beard. Yet when he finally pulls into DJ Supastar's Spin Academy near the Medical Center, he looks, well, square.
"The hair's kinda a new thing I'm doing, a renewal," Williams says with a laugh.
For the moment, he looks like he's back on campus at the University of Texas at Austin, where he honed his rap talents while earning a communications degree. Now he's in a deep, dark burgundy Boston College pullover and blue jeans with glasses that hug his face and a shaggy haircut that resembles the Beatles' George Harrison.
I casually joke, "You look like a schoolteacher."
"That's because I sub," he swings back.
It all seems like a bit of a shock: Roosh Williams, the man with a double-time flow and a deep competitive energy, working with private-school children, but he laughs.
"It's fun as shit."
At the moment, everything appears to be fun with Williams. He can joke about Amber Rose walking by ("we brushed arms") and being utterly shocked to see Farnsworth Bentley at SXSW ("dog, I used to think you were real tight!") and his own basketball talents, but it happens to be album season for the 25-year-old rapper.
A native Houstonian, Alief to be specific, Williams was born to Persian parents who lived in Tehran before emigrating here. However, he's always been smacked with the "white rapper" label.
"First, people didn't know what the fuck I was," he says. "My hair was short and people thought I was half black. First time I met Killa Kyleon, he thought I was white. I guess people think I act white. I went to middle and high school in Katy. I just consider myself an average motherfucker."
As his Unorthodox album nears, Williams has come into his own both as a man and as a rapper. From the clever samples of skate-party kingpin Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hot Stepper" and the Dazz Band & Benny Lava's "Let It Whip" to the feature by Scarface, the album is an extension of Williams that expounds upon his Persian heritage and more.
In his own words, Unorthodox is "completely Roosh," but there's a bit more to Williams. He's got a mouthy, competitive edge that flashes out when provoked, whether he's playing pickup basketball or water polo, or speaking out on social media.
Last October, the Rockets were in the middle of dismantling the Los Angeles Lakers at home on the NBA's opening night. During the middle of a heated argument between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, Williams took to Twitter and defend his hometown squad, and eventually raised the ire of an ESPN personality.
"I'm a huge Rockets fan," begins Williams. "Basically, Kobe and Dwight got in the fight and people were gonna talk shit about Dwight regardless. I went to Twitter, searched 'Dwight Howard' and the first tweet that popped up was [SportsNation co-host] Michelle Beadle. I responded and then put my phone down. Then I looked back and her fans just jumped on it, and I started flaming them one by one."
"I saw one dude's profile and it said he lived in Katy," he continues. "I said something to the effect of, 'I'm 15 minutes away from you.' His tone changed real quick. He said sorry and wished me the best of luck. Little moments like that make it so fucking worth it."
The tweet, which Williams fired off to his 3,000-plus followers, eventually volleyed back and forth among Beadle's 1.05 million followers, and became the best piece of free publicity Williams had ever had.
"Next thing I know, [ex-NBA star] Jalen Rose blocked me," the rapper says. "I tried to look at his tweets and it said, 'You are blocked' and I was like...what did I do to Jalen Rose?!"
It wasn't the first time Williams' competitive streak got the best of him. Growing out his hair was the direct result of him tearing his labrum while playing water polo on vacation.
"It's a lot that's surreal to me that I've done," he says. "I've performed big shows, hung with groupies and all that. It doesn't hit me until it's way over and I say, man, I really did that. But there are still things I've got to unlock. I think about quitting every other day.
"There are days where I say, why the fuck am I doing this?", he continues. "But then there are others when I feel I'm doing this for love. It's what drives me. I've touched people, [and] they keep telling me to go."
Williams' original nurturing ground was in Austin around 2010, where he had already heard of burgeoning acts in Houston at the time, such as Doughbeezy, Propain and DeLorean, among others. Learning how to navigate local politics and more, "Houston was harder than Austin," Williams admits.
"'Cause I already knew how to work Austin," he says. "And I love my last album, but I love this one more."
From 2011 on, Williams has been full-go within the local rap scene, opening each performance with an introduction of his name before launching into a stop-and-stutter fast-paced blitzkrieg. "He raps so hard," one fan said of Williams' performance when opening up for MMG rapper Wale. The acclaim has put Williams on the precipice of an even larger perch than even his acclaimed 2013 project, déjá Roo: Times Have Changed, achieved.
Now Unorthodox, to Williams, equates to freedom. "It's more me," he says of the project, which will be released through his longtime Pairadime imprint. "I didn't want to be a double-time demon forever. I can't do it all the time -- I mean I can, but it's not going to be dope all the time.
"To tell you the truth, after this project I wanna expand what I do," adds Williams. "Because rapping only takes you so far. It's an unorthodox thing about me. I'm either off or I'm on. I'm either in it to win it or I shrug and say, 'maybe.' Either it clicks or it doesn't."