Texas hip-hop boasts a profound and extensive history within the cultural landscape. Over the years, the most prominent Texas rappers have ascended to become influential figures in the broader hip-hop community.
The inception of Texas hip hop gained notable traction in the late ’80s with the emergence of the Geto Boys, marking Houston’s first rap act to achieve mainstream recognition. As subsequent acts such as UGK, DJ Screw, and Z-Ro entered the scene, Texas solidified its standing as a formidable force within the genre.
The pinnacle of Texas hip hop’s influence arrived in the early 2000s when Southern hip hop, spearheaded by Houston luminaries like Mike Jones, Chamillionaire, and Paul Wall, took center stage globally, dominating airwaves and sales. The enduring significance of the Texas rap scene persisted, underscored by Travis Scott’s ascent to hip-hop stardom.
From the trailblazing contributions of Slim Thug, Z-Ro, and Devin the Dude, to the enduring legacies of UGK, Scarface, and Trae the Truth, the following list encapsulates the top 10 best Texas rappers of all time.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest Southern rappers and a luminary in the entire hip-hop genre, Scarface’s impact on the rap game is indelible. Boasting a repertoire of classics and Southern hits, collaborating with icons such as 2Pac and Jay-Z, Scarface’s artistic influence extends far beyond the streets of Houston, Texas. With a storied career that has garnered a global fanbase, Scarface’s legacy is firmly entrenched in hip-hop history.
Pioneers in the Southern rap scene, UGK, or Underground Kingz, emerged in the late 1980s from the small town of Port Arthur. Their debut album, “Too Hard Too Swallow,” marked the beginning of an illustrious career, with standout hits like “Something Good” and “Pocket Full of Stones.” Dominating Southern and Texas hip-hop with the seminal “Ridin’ Dirty,” UGK’s catalog, including solo projects from Bun B and Pimp C, stands as one of hip-hop’s finest.
3. Geto Boys
The trailblazers and true pioneers of Southern and Texas rap, Geto Boys, paved the way for artists from the South aspiring to enter the hip-hop realm. Founded by the legendary J. Prince and Rap-A-Lot Records, the trio of Bushwick Bill, Scarface, and Willie D released seven albums from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. They are immortalized for the hip-hop classic, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”
4. Lil Keke
Renowned as one of the Southern rap scene’s greatest lyricists and the original “Freestyle King,” Lil Keke rose to prominence as a standout artist of the Screwed Up Click. Transitioning to a successful solo career with a plethora of mixtapes and albums since the 1990s, Lil Keke’s hits such as “South Side,” “Chunk Up The Deuce,” and “I’m A G” solidify his position in the Texas hip-hop pantheon.
Known as the Mo City Don, Rother Vandross, or Z-Ro, this artist has long been celebrated for his gangster harmonies and melodies. Originating from the S.U.C and the Guerilla Maab group, Z-Ro officially debuted his solo career with “Look What You Did to Me.” With a consistent release of music and a devoted fanbase known as ‘Ro Heads, Z-Ro’s prominence in the Texas hip-hop scene is undeniable.
6. Slim Thug
Hailing from the Nawf Side of Houston, Slim Thug emerged as a prominent figure associated with the Swishahouse. A dominant force in rap with freestyles and performances, Slim Thug’s solo career solidified his status as the Boss of all Bosses. Collaborations with Houston legends, formation of the Boss Hogg Outlawz, and hit albums like “Boss of All Bosses” and “Already Platinum” showcase Slim Thug’s enduring influence.
7. South Park Mexican
A trailblazer as one of the first Mexican and Hispanic rappers to gain recognition in hip-hop, South Park Mexican (SPM) crafted a legendary catalog during his time on the streets. Despite his current incarceration, SPM’s music resonates, transforming the hip-hop culture beyond traditional boundaries.
Before transitioning into a mogul involved in the tech world, Chamillionaire made his mark working with Swishahouse and collaborating with Paul Wall, releasing the underground classic “Get Ya Mind Correct.” His solo career took flight with the mixtape “Mixtape Messiah” and the hit song “Ridin’,” showcasing Chamillionaire’s versatility.
9. Lil Flip
Anointed as the Freestyle King and one of the youngest members of the S.U.C., Lil Flip gained nationwide success in the 2000s with hits like “The Way We Ball” and the classic album “Underground Legend.” A pivotal figure in bringing Houston’s hip-hop scene to a broader audience, Lil Flip’s impact is undeniable.
10. Fat Pat
Celebrated for the classic “Top Drops” and the album “Ghetto Dreams,” Fat Pat was a luminary in Houston’s hip-hop scene. Despite his career and life being tragically cut short, Fat Pat’s legacy as one of Houston, Texas’ greatest rappers endures.
11. Big Moe
Another Houston legend gone too soon, Big Moe, a former member of the S.U.C., was one of the first rappers to infuse harmonies and melodies into his music. Known for hits like “Barre Baby,” “Just A Dog,” “Purple Stuff,” and “Mann,” Big Moe’s locally and regionally recognized contributions cemented his status as a key figure in Houston’s hip-hop legacy. Throughout his career, Big Moe recorded three albums – “City of Syrup,” “Purple World,” and “Moe Life.”
12. Paul Wall
Starting his career with the Swishahouse, Paul Wall played a pivotal role in bringing national attention to Houston’s hip-hop scene, particularly with the hit “Still Tippin’.” Not an OG among Houston’s original rappers, Paul Wall, alongside Mike Jones, Lil Flip, and others, became a prominent figure in the city during the 2000s. His classic albums, “The People’s Champ” and “Get Money Stay True,” solidified Paul Wall as one of the top hip-hop artists of the era.
13. Trae tha Truth
In recent years, Trae Tha Truth has become not only known for his rap career but also for his philanthropy and community contributions. A former member of S.U.C. and Guerilla Maab, Trae Tha Truth’s solid career spans numerous albums and mixtapes, earning him respect as one of the most revered rappers in the hip-hop community.
Dominating North Texas’s rap scene in the 2010s, Dorrough became a prominent figure with hits like “Ice Cream Pain Job,” “Get Big,” and “Walk Tha Walk.” His contributions to club-focused hip-hop made him a key player during the early 2010s and late 2000s.
15. Mike Jones
Instrumental in raising national attention for Houston’s hip-hop scene during the early and mid-2000s, Mike Jones gained fame with catchy phrases like “Who?” and sharing his phone number. His collaboration with Swishahouse on “Still Tippin'” marked a turning point, leading to his successful album “Who Is Mike Jones?”
16. Devin The Dude
Renowned for integrating hip-hop with cannabis culture, Devin The Dude’s laid-back style made him more than a Texas hip-hop artist; it earned him a global fan base. Affiliated with the Coughee Brothaz, Facemob, and Rap-A-Lot Records, Devin The Dude’s songs like “Doobie Ashtray” and “What A Job” made him a distinguished figure in the industry.
17. Big Tuck
Possibly Dallas and DFW’s all-time great, Big Tuck brought North Texas to the forefront with tracks like “Southside Da Realist” and “Not a Stain On Me.” His albums, including “Purple Hulk,” “The Absolute Truth,” and “Hell On Em,” established Big Tuck as one of the top Southern rappers of the 2000s.
18. Street Military
Representing the militarized streets of Houston, Street Military made a mark with classic albums like “Don’t Give a Damn” and “Next Episode.” Operating independently of S.U.C., Rap-A-Lot, or Swishahouse, Street Military influenced many Texas rappers and emerged as top artists in the city during the 1990s.
Hailing from the North Side and Acres Homes, J-Dawg initially started with Swishahouse before joining Slim Thug and becoming a key member of Boss Hogg Outlawz. Known for the hit song “Ridin’ On 4s,” J-Dawg later released one of Texas’ greatest hip-hop albums, “Behind Tint, Vol. 2.”
20. Tum Tum
Representing Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Tum Tum became a notable Texas rapper during the 2000s. Known for tracks like “Caprice Music,” Tum Tum played a crucial role in shining a light on the city of Dallas in the Southern hip-hop scene.