I’m going to assume that historically, the Houston rap sound was not generally the biggest sound banging through Montreal, at least not through most of the eras. I’m sure there were some Geto Boys fans early on, maybe a couple super deep music heads found some screw tapes online in the 90’s, but the Houston sound really only spent a short period of time as an international force to be reckoned with. I mean seriously, I’m pretty sure most of Canada’s hip hop community never gave a damn about Texas rap music except maybe from like 2004 – 2007. Sort of.
Truth be told, I live in Texas, in Austin, dead smack in the middle of the state, and most of my favorite music comes from within a few hundred miles of here. Since the late 80’s I’ve been obsessed with the sounds coming from the streets of Houston, and early on in the 90’s I realized that Dallas, Austin and San Antonio also had similar scenes with formidable talent on par with what I was hearing from Houston. It took years for Houston, a city with a very specific sound that runs through it to break through internationally.
I compare it to Canada in the sense that I spent so many years wondering why there was never a super hip hop break out artist from Canada before Drake. Yes, I know of all the underground artists who have fans in the US. I know about Maestro Fresh Wes and Michie Mee, and I mean, I know all the dudes from Skratch Bastid and Shad to Kardinal Official, Full Course, all sorts of cool Canadian acts. But I mean, I think Canada and Texas may face similar prejudices. The average person isn’t willing to really dig in and see how diverse the music flowing out its borders really is. Does the average Canadian rap fan know who Lil Keke or ESG is?
Austin is home to a producer named Eric Dingus, who actually has inked a production deal with Drake’s OVO Label, so off rip there’s a real connection. Dingus was featured on the last Drake album and has produced some mixtapes for the label. His two latest releases are with Austin rappers S. Dot & Tuk, and DoWrong -- all three from the League of Extraordinary G’z, a 9 man crew from the city that spawned SXSW.
From Houston look out for LE$, who recently signed to Curren$y’s Jet Life imprint and has stayed on the road, and Doughbeezy, who is a young fire spitter who has the entire region talking. Repping the soulful side of Clutch City is Lyric Michelle, who you can see at this years Pop Montreal opening for Jean Grae. Her latest video “The Motive” is a powerful indictment of hatin’ ass fuckboys who play the role more than they walk the walk.
San Antonio is real interesting right now with Worldwide leading the pack as both a producer and a top notch MC. Bamsworth Belli recently dropped a song with him that harkens back to the mid 90’s on all levels. J. Money has a hit with “Canada Dry” from Mick Jenkins and J is on all sorts of records dropping in the coming months.
And in Dallas, the city that brought you The DOC, Mad Flava, Erykah Badu and Nemesis, you have to keep your eyes and ears open for The Outfit, TX. A trip of incredible showmen who have developed a sound that is the perfect look at what’s really going on in Texas today. Today we still keep it trill, we never stray too far from what made the Texas sound the Texas sound. We still ride big cars, and do big drugs, and all the things you might expect from us, but we also jam music above 65 bpms and appreciate lyrical skill and the ability to bring a party. Like a lot of places, all of Canada included, Texas is not merely what you see on the surface.
Photos taken from Sonzala's Instagram @pushermania