This month, less than two years after he penned an anthem about selling crack, Houston rapper PyRexx released the mixtape Workflo Vol. 1 with lyrics so Christian that the Grammy Awards would call it gospel music.
“You better stop running ‘cause God is coming/Better be sober, God is coming,” says PyRexx on track number 2, “Sober,” which for much of the past 15 years only described him in prison.
Known as Joseph McSweeney to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 29-year-old PyRexx has collected five convictions for a total of six-and-a-half years behind bars. This hasn’t stopped Christians in Houston’s hip-hop scene from endorsing him, though.
Bun B, Bizzle, Tre9 and Govenor Reiss will be featured on PyRexx’s upcoming album Born Again Disciple, which he plans to drop by November on Rapture Recordz. These cosigns come years removed from PyRexx’s affiliation with Houston rap group ABN, formed by local legends Trae Tha Truth and Z-Ro.
“[PyRexx] has a lot of clout in the city of Houston,” Reconcile told Rapzilla. “ABN is the biggest rap clique in Houston. It isn’t Drake. If you come to Houston, it’s ABN. It’s all people want to hear.”
Since his ABN days, the content of PyRexx’s music has changed radically. He has too.
PyRexx Thug Life
PyRexx grew up on De Soto Street, once labeled a “war zone” by the Houston Chronicle. His parents worked full-time, leaving the neighborhood dealers and gang members as mentors.
At 15 years old, PyRexx lost a fight that forced him to skip school with a swollen eye. His day off still began at the bus stop, where he sold marijuana. While his friends learned about algebra that afternoon, a local dealer introduced him to cocaine.
PyRexx already sold crack, a hustle that he had adopted when his friend flaunted brand-new Air Jordan shoes courtesy of his crack income. PyRexx added cocaine to his inventory. He sniffed half of his supply.
Police chases were common enough on De Soto that local on-duty cops wore biker shorts. PyRexx and his friend Supa’ J had mapped out escape routes that utilized pre-broken apartment gates for easier getaways. They also broke into abandoned apartments—havens to use drugs and pimp women.
Sixteen was a busy age for PyRexx.
His school expelled him for fighting and shooting dice. His alcoholic father—who had suffered a stroke and become homebound the previous year—smelled marijuana on PyRexx one afternoon and told him to buy more with his social security paycheck. After two years of affiliation, PyRexx was also initiated into the Gangster Disciples (GD).
He started his GD career off with a bang: stealing a Chrysler convertible with four friends one evening, sniffing cocaine, driving to a club and flirting with girls while parked the wrong direction on a one-way street. This attracted a pair of police officers, who PyRexx’s friends immediately punched. PyRexx fled, and he may have escaped if it weren’t for a meddling tree branch, which clotheslined him as he hopped a fence.
PyRexx spent two days in a juvenile detention center for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. In an attempt to keep him out of trouble, his mother moved their family 15 minutes away. Their new neighborhood on West Road was less impoverished, but this made for higher drug profits.
Seven months into his nine-month probation, PyRexx hurriedly parallel parked his 1989 Cadillac Brougham across three Walgreens parking spots to await a crack client who claimed to be down the street. High on Xanax and sedated by max air conditioning, PyRexx fell asleep.
Six hours later, he woke up to police knocking on the window. The six crack rocks that sat on his lap earned him a month in jail, followed by three years of probation. It was Mother’s Day.
Three months out on probation, PyRexx scheduled a crack sale for when he got off work at Great American Cookie Company in the mall. While waiting for his buyer, PyRexx saw an all-white Michael Jordan basketball jersey in Footaction that he wanted. He borrowed scissors from the manager at Spencer’s next door to cut the jersey off the hanger, but as PyRexx stuffed the jersey down his pants, the manger wanted his scissors back.
He saw PyRexx shoplifting and, within the minute, mall cops were chasing PyRexx. He ditched the bag of marijuana on him, tossing it in the food court fountain in case they caught him.
They caught him. And PyRexx was so high that he forgot he had nine crack rocks on him. A judge sentenced him to three years in prison.
PyRexx served two before he was placed on parole. He benefited from the sentence. It weakened his addiction to cocaine.
When released, he spent the time he would’ve sniffed powder by distributing CDs and posters in local malls, barbershops and parks for Trae Tha Truth. PyRexx became friends with him through Trae’s younger brother Jay’Ton, who lived across the street from PyRexx until the age of 14.
PyRexx, rapping since 14, dreamed of becoming a Houston legend like Trae and ultimately signing to a major record label.
As PyRexx pursued this dream, his girlfriend of two months Ashley became pregnant. Four months after she birthed their son JoJo, PyRexx readied for his debut concert. He ensured he would shine, enlisting jeweler TV Johnny to open the event and purchasing a new $5,000 King Johnny diamond watch.
Back home in a rush to arrive, PyRexx told Ashley to skip a shower. They had been out all day, but he wanted her to run upstairs and just grab her makeup and clothes.
Twenty minutes passed.
PyRexx stormed upstairs to the sound of a shower. Irate, he threw Ashley out of the shower. She slipped face first into a laundry basket.
Ashley screamed. PyRexx panicked.
He covered her mouth before throwing her again, this time onto the bed. Ashley bounced off and smashed a hole in the wall. She screamed louder.
By the time that PyRexx had calmed Ashley down and they were halfway to the club, PyRexx realized he forgot his watch. He drove 80 mph in a 40 mph zone back to their apartment complex, where they arrived to find seven police cars stationed. PyRexx told Ashley to stay in the car and stealthily ran into his house.
“Oh, Mr. PyRexx has showed up,” said the sheriff who had slipped behind him, one of a half dozen who heard about screams.
They handcuffed PyRexx to the table, which already shackled his father James. Law enforcement found James’ cocaine baggies in his room, but he said they—and marijuana baggies that air conditioning had blown from a dresser into JoJo’s crib—were PyRexx’s. None of this, nor the photographs around the house of PyRexx holding AK-47 and AR-15 rifles, were enough to imprison him.
“Y’all ain’t got nothing,” PyRexx told the sheriffs.
Then Ashley walked in. Sheriffs searched her. They found the keys to PyRexx’s truck, which they searched and found Ashley’s purse, where all of his drugs were—cocaine, crack, Xanax and ecstasy.
PyRexx missed his performance.
Police charged him with organized crime but lacked evidence for a conviction. They guilt tripped PyRexx about letting his girlfriend and father go to prison for drug possession. Police also threatened to let Child Protective Services take JoJo for the marijuana baggies in his crib.
“Everything’s mine,” PyRexx said, still on parole.