Frank D'Amato doesn't have the typical sound you'd expect from a rapper working Houston's stages. Hailing from Stafford, Texas, his career is built on a kind of fanfiction rap that pays homage to Marvel's antihero the Punisher (also known as Frank Castle). Completely independent, D’Amato says he’s had his doubts, although local support is growing; he earned a exclusive slot at Alley Kat's Memorial Day Block Party this Sunday, opening for Rakim.
In advance, D'Amato spoke with Houstonia about his local favorites, nerdy interests, and future plans.
His favorite place to hang out in the city and listen to music is Axelrad.
"It’s a nice environment, and they have good-ass pizza. But it’s more so for the DJs that spin. My man DJ Dayta, he’s with the Kracker Nuttz DJ collective. And of course, my man DJ Charlie Brown."
D'Amato wrote a rap song about Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells made countless medical breakthroughs possible.
"These are figures that we don’t really know about. I stumbled upon her and I just started reading about the history of her and of what she did. Because of her cells that’s why we have the cure for so many diseases. And this was a black woman that we never knew about. And to see the way it was done, it was all done in secret. It was a personal song as well, of how I felt. I felt like this was another victim of the system."
He’s really a big comic book collector and anime nerd (but, unfortunately he hasn’t been to Comicpalooza).
"Besides the music, that’s why I write, the comics, the stories. In my Marvel musical universe, I’m the Punisher. All of my other projects were in the comic realm. I did two EPs; one was called Green Beret. That was basically the infantry that the Punisher was working for when he became the Punisher.
I’m a big anime fan but I’ve never been to an anime convention, I’m kind of sad about that."
He’s opened for a lot of acts and got the chance to open for his favorite rapper, the Detroit performer Elzhi, formerly of the group Slum Village.
"That’s like my favorite show. To me he’s the illest, I don’t know anyone who can rap like him. That boy’s a beast. I opened up for him and it was monumental for me."
He is planning a special tribute to Houston-bred, hip-hop icon DJ Premier.
"We have a DJ Premier set, just paying homage to the man. I'm looking forward to it. I always try to do actual show. We've been putting together a show in three acts. The second act is the homage to Premier, and my third act is an homage to J Dilla (the late Detroit producer and DJ)."
Frank D’Amato is a special guest at the Memorial Day Block Party this Sunday, May 29. Free Tickets. Alley Kat Bar & Lounge, 3718 Main St. Doors at 3 p.m. Event info here.