The “SWANG” State of Texas; Land of Candy Paint and Home of the Slab
The political race heats up every election year. Campaigns mobilize their base and pound the pavement to drum up support for their party. Politically the states are broken down and identified by color. The red states lean heavily toward the Republican Party and the blue states favor the Democrats. If there is no clear or overwhelming party support, that state is labeled a purple state because there’s a balanced mix of red (republican) and blue (democrat) support. These states are also called swing states because they can swing an election in favor or either party.
Texas is not a swing state, it’s Red. But on the streets it has become the key “Swang” state. Although it’s not a battleground state by any means, it still tends to lean towards purple, at least in one sub-culture of the population.
A movement that sprang from a local community on the south side of Houston, Texas has spread, impacting the car culture not only in the city but across the entire state of Texas. The “Slab” ride as it’s called, has become the majority whip of the Gulf Coast and surrounding areas.
Whip Appeal turned to the State Capitol of Austin, Texas for more background and insight regarding the exploding growth and popularity of the Slab ride beyond Texas borders. We caught up with Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs, the headquarters for the emerging Slab Party.
(Whip Appeal): Thomas, explain to our readers exactly what a slab is. How is it different from other custom automotive styles and trends seen in the streets currently?
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): The Slab comes from boys sittin low to the Slab(the ground). It later expanded to represent Slow, Loud And Bangin. A Slab is very similar to donks and low riders but there are differences. You have to have candy paint, Swangas and Vogues, 5th wheel with swanga that recline, 6th wheel(optional), Buck insides(leather), grille and woman, pop trunk, and belts and buckles. A Slab car has to be really customized, from the insides all the way to the outside. Some people throw swangas on their car and say they have a slab. It takes a lot more than swangas to make a complete slab. Now there has always been drama on what a slab is and what type of car is a slab. Some of the kats like myself are from the OG S.U.C. error (the 90’s) would most likely pull out a Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Buick, or Lincoln that was made in the 60s, 70s, or 80s( Preferably a drop) The younger kats are making the newer 90s, 2000 and up cars into slabs. I feel if you run all the way through the car you have a slab, I just prefer the olders ones. The car HAS to have swangas to be a Slab. You might have a car with nice wheels but it’s not a complete slab until you rollin on dem 4s or 3s (83s or 84s swangas)
(Whip Appeal): Thanks for making that plain for everybody that may have had misconceptions about what a slab truly is. Now if you would, please take us through the slab timeline. In other words, when, where and how did the slab culture form?
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): It started on the southside of H-town,(look at the Slab culture Documentary on Youtube). I can remember when boys were riding on daytons, 30s and vogues and 3 bars. Dj Screw(R.I.P.) and the S.U.C. started making screw tapes and all them boys talked about was riding swangas. The southside started rollin on swangas in the early 90s. I was in High school when I saw my first Slab. I knew I had to have one. During the 90s the southside had all the swangas…so they had all the slabs, and that’s when the jacking started! Northside wanted swangas too and you could not buy swangs in a store. So they went out and jacked them. It was really crazy back then. Only real ballers and OG gansta kats were riding this wheel, if you were a square fronting…you could become a victim…people died because of these wheels. Then Texan Wire Wheels came along in the 2000s and remade the wheel and had it on the shelf so boys didn’t have to jack for them they could purchase their own. (Jacking still is around but it’s a lot less)
(Whip Appeal): I remember the stories on the streets and in the news about occurrences like the ones you described. Sad but true. Thomas, is the slab movement contained to the Houston area or has it started to branch out in your opinion?
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): Houston, Texas is the heart of the slab game, but there are slabs all over the U.S. now. I think the music really gave the slab game a huge push. When Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Lil Flip, Big Moe, and Mike Jones got national exposure thats when the world started hearing what a slab was. You can go to Louisiana now and drive through the smallest town and see a complete slab.The world is catching on to the Htown Slab Culture…I have help Slab about 3 cars in Canada, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in Austria. I got a customer right now waiting to see if I can ship him some swangas to Japan. I also give a lot of the credit to the Texas Military boys. They love their culture and they show boys from everywhere how we do it, next thing you know I’m getting calls from Kats from everywhere wanting to be the first in their city or state with a Texas Style Slab.
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): Honestly the slab game has not changed much. You can take one of the first slabs from the 90s and find one just like it right now. Now there are a lot of young cats that are taking whatever car their parents got them in high school and making them slabs. I’m not knocking that because I feel if you put the time and money into your car, long as it customized properly you can call it a slab. You just won’t catch me ridin that way…lol. Common cars are Cadillacs…I have a 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz (my favorite car). Some boys slab lincolns, olds, jags, benzs, hell bentlys…whatever car you think of someone is attempting to slab one.
(Whip Appeal): I feel you on that, I guess that’s the true meaning of Texas proud. Well now comes the fun part. Let’s say I want to build a Slab that will gain attention and turn heads and be on point. I want to do it right, walk me through the process from vehicle choice to accessories? What vehicle do I need to choose, what paint would be holding, interior design, accessories on the exterior, wheel/tire size and choice. If you (Slab Customs) were coaching me on building my first slab how would you advise me to do it?
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): Now if you want to really hold slab find a Cadillac opera, or a Le Cab (very rare cadillacs) but the next best thing would be a Boss hogg (1973-1978 eldorado) or a Eldog (1979-1984 Eldorado), 1968-1970 Deville, 1970-1972 Eldorado….convertible!!!!
- get the motor tight…you can’t be holdin slab waiting on a wrecker truck…that’s a joke waiting to happen. Spend all that money on fixing it up and the motor is garbage is a big NoNo!!
- Get the body right, all dents, modifications
- Get the interior right, take it to an upholstery shop and design it just the way you want it.
- Get Your bang, Screens, Pop Trunk Actuators, Alarm, Pop Trunk signs, and what ever else you wanted to put in your ride to make it unique.
- Get it sprayed WET…Candy paint…I’m a red turns heads type of dude even through I’m from the northside of Htown. While you are getting painted also get your 5th and 6th wheel painted.
- Get 5th and 6th installed…make sure you put the actuator on the 5th for the recline.
- Get your grille, woman, belts and buckles, and SWANGAS AND VOGUES…..SWANGAS AND VOGUES are a MUST to be a SLAB
(Whip Appeal): Boys got the info now so what products, acessories and other slab services can your company Slab Customs help them with now that they want to build their slabs right to be official in the streets?
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): We sell every Slab accessory you need to slab your car…Swangas, Vogues, 5th wheels, 6th wheels, belts and buckles, E&G Grilles, Custom Grilles, Pop Trunk actuators, Pop Trunk signs, Chrome hood ornaments, custom hood ornaments, wood steering wheels, car audio, car video, and much more!!!
(Whip Appeal): I like the concept, a 1 stop Slab shop! Now I’m even more curious about how you came up with the idea and when you formed Slab Customs. Tell our readers more about your enterprise.
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): Well I move to Austin in 2005, I had a 1995 Buick Lesabre and went to get pop trunk installed. The guy tried to charge me out the ass for it! Being from Houston I knew I could get it done cheaper in the H….it pissed me off but it put an idea in my head to try to bring the Htown culture to Austin…now there was boyz already holdin Slab In ATX…but it was nothing like the H. So I went got my DBA and made me a website. I was only thinking of selling to Austin but little did I know people from everywhere would start to order from my online site. The hustler in me made me put a lot of time, foot work and money into my website so I could make it the Largest site on the net to buy anything to slab a ride. We have come a long way…site has gotten bigger, customers all over world, we came out with our own wood steering wheels, dropped promo mixtapes, drop promo dvd, youtube videos, all over facebook, opened a small store front in the flea market in austin….more to come…real soon!!!
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): I remember a kat from Austin name lil John…he was the first dude to bring me his whole income tax check to fix up his ride, My boy DA from Kentucky…first kat to spend over $10,000 with me, kats down in Alaska…I couldn’t believe they were into cars down there lol..and all my customers outside of the U.S.…they really rep Slab Customs hard!!!!
(Whip Appeal): Earlier in the interview you mentioned unique ways of promoting your company particulary the mixtapes, dvds etc..Tell me more about your marketing efforts.
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): We hooked up with A.T.L. Productions and dropped free promo mixtapes…screw and chopped…still grinding on craigslist, flyers, dvds, Youtube, Facebook…trying to get to the music videos…not there yet. Texas Heatwave car show in Austin…Los Magnificos car show In Houston and any small car shows in between. Any chance I have to advertise to get business I’m there. No matter how small it is.
(Whip Appeal): I better start closing this out man, I could talk to you all day about your company, the cars and music. How about letting readers know about any future plans for Slab Customs.
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): I want to expand to a larger shop! Make my website bigger and better. Open a location back home in Houston, and maybe other parts of Texas. This is just the beginning for us…We been in business for 7 years and we are still a young company…and ready to take on the world!!!!
(Whip Appeal): Thomas if there is anything we have not covered speak now or forever hold your peace…lol, I think I’m really about to conclude the interview. I hate it’s coming to an end but I have taken up enough of your valuable time. You have Slabs to help build!
(Thomas Kemper of Slab Customs): Well if you need anything hit us at http://www.slabcustoms.com , need a wood wheel visit http://www.kemperwoodwheels.com , need a dvd to bang in your ride visit http://www.hatavision.com , also we are on twitter, facebook and myspace and you can reach us at 512-803-2200…email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions!!
(Whip Appeal): Thanks again my man for giving us the real rundown on the Texas Slab ride.
Back in 1861, Texas declared it’s separation from the Union and joined the Confederate states of America, but those states were never recognized as a separate country. After the Union defeated the Confederacy in 1865, all those confederate states were restored to full U.S. status. Every now and again in Texas politics however, you hear rumblings from a small minority who still desire a Texas secession from the nation. In the car world, some think Texas has already seceded when it comes to customizing automobiles. Taking that point of view is like looking at the entire custom car landscape through a very narrow lens.
Yes, there are many independent thinkers in the Texas whip game, just like in our politics. The major difference however is, the only rumblings you will hear from within The slab party is when boys beat down your block bangin Robert Earl Davis. Instead of being swayed by what’s in vogue, boys who ride Slab choose to roll on vogues wrapped around 84’s.
Not only is Texas an active part of the custom car community in the states but is also spreading influence abroad. So the next time someone asks, “What ya’ll know about them Texas boys coming down in candy toys (RIP Chad “Pimp C” Butler) let’em know, “we still tippin and the paint still drippin”!
Until Next Time,
D. Smith/WhipAppeal Blog and WhipCreamz Custom Car Wax Collection
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