The Best Rappers In Dallas*. (*OK, We Mean North Texas.)
Even if you don't rank them in any particular order, compiling a list of the area's best rappers is still an incredibly difficult task.
Real talk: Much as this city enjoys bemoaning its seeming inability to blow up on a national level and emerge as a hip-hop powerhouse on par with an Atlanta or Chicago, the local hip-hop scene really is teeming with talent.
From legends still putting in work and newcomers carving alleys toward national success to transplants calling Dallas home and high-caliber talent living elsewhere but still repping the Triple D, the area scene really does have a lot to be proud of.
Don't believe our hype? Well, you should.
And you can start with this here list, which was crafted after wading through the catalogs of some 50-plus area performers. It wasn't easy putting this thing together, no.
But, hey, neither is making sure your voice gets heard over all those crappy wannabes out there.
Snow Tha Product.
Snow's becoming something of a regular on the national scene. Scour the internet for proof: This Atlantic Records signee and Fort Worth resident has received praise from every nook and cranny of the hip-hop world — arguably because she's the best female emcee in the game, but also because her repertoire and flows are strong enough to stand on their own against any emcee, regardless of gender. With an upcoming debut studio album due later this year and a heavy touring schedule — including all stops of the upcoming Rock The Bells tour — Snow's steady rise shows no limits.
The Outfit, TX.
Dallas natives Mel Kyle, JayHawk Walker and Dorian Terrell may have made their name down in Houston while studying at U of H, but these days, the crew's back in the D, just waiting for locals to take notice. Well, we should: This trio's simply one of best groups in all of hip-hop right now. Their 2012 release, Starships & Rockets: Cooly Fooly Space Age Funk, is a triumphant take on the classic Texas sound made famous by DJ Screw as well as southern rap. It's a must-listen.
This group's sound has been ringing through the streets for a good while now and, these days, the duo of B Reed and Faime isn't showing any signs of slowing down. And, thanks to the release of this year's Yung Nation University 2 mixtape and their collaborations with Dorrough and Ace Boogie under the Prime Time Click banner, it's becoming clearer and clearer by the day. This young duo's going to be around for a while. And that's a good thing, for sure. Yung Nation is loud enough to wake the dead
Cavazos has long been recognized as one of the hardest-working artists in the city, and deservedly: The Oak Cliff native's always on his grind, be it through his approachable social media presence or his more analog process of hand-delivering his albums, show tickets and merch directly to fans. It's these endearing methods that have earned him one of the most loyal followings in Dallas, not to mention much-coveted opening slots whenever the biggest names in hip-hop swing through town on tour. More recently, Cavazos released his Until The Summer Ends mixtape, which features production from the Grammy-winning, Dallas-based Play-N-Skillz (Chamillionaire, Lil Wayne) production team.
The most successful rapper out of Dallas right now? Hands down, it's Dorrough. He's still the face of Dallas hip-hop and, until he's surpassed, he deserves nothing but respect for that. And even though he's spending a lot of his time out in California these days, he's still got a 214 number and he's still putting on for younger acts like Yung Nation and working with the legends such as Big Tuck and Tum Tum. Hell, he just last week showed up to support DJ Sober's new gig. Plus, his latest project, Shut The City Down, features collaborations with Juicy J, Waka Flocka, French Montana, Trae The Truth and Z-Ro, along with production from Mike Will Made It. Not a bad look for Dallas at all.
Compared to the other artists on this list, Buffalo Black is a true outlier. Though rarely seen on any all-local hip-hop bills, Black appears content with his vagabond persona. He's basically crafted himself in this image, too: His earlier-this-year-released self-titled LP largely revolves around this theme, while boasting an experimental sound that's wholly unconcerned with fitting into the local mold. His latest single, “The Advent” (see above), follows suit.
Local favorites Slim Gravy and Paris Pershun seem poised to claim a top spot on the national scene soon. They're certainly working toward that end: Even since the widely-celebrated local release of their new DiveHiFlyLo release just this past January, the duo has continued steadily releasing new tracks and videos. It's all in preparation for a re-release of DiveHiFlyLo on a national scale, complete with added tracks from up-and-coming producers like DJ Burn One, who produced the group's latest single, “Where You Been.”
In any region, Robinson's delivery would come off as unique. But here in Dallas, it's completely head-turning. Born and raised in New Jersey but now residing here, this promising rapper's East Coast influence and '90s inclinations add up to a sound that's garnering well-deserved attention across the city. And it's all put to good use on her recently-released Pigeon mixtape. Like, really good use.
He's the quintessential backpack rapper, and that's no slight. I mean it literally, actually: The dude wears his plush lion backpack pretty much wherever we see him. Perhaps it's because he's always working and supporting his fellow emcees: It's completely commonplace to see -topic showing up at any show in town that's worth attending, including ones he puts together himself. With wit for days and a live show that usually leaves audiences hungry for more (also literally, since he usually fills his backpack with ready-to-share snacks), -topic's fast making a name for himself with his eclectic wordplay and meaningful messages.
With a new proper album coming, rest assured: All eyes will surely be on Black Milk this fall. And, lucky for us, those eyes will now be directed toward Dallas — Black Milk's new home. Make no mistake: His arrival is a major coup for the city. Having such a talented rapper and producer decide to up and move to Dallas — and one who's doing it so well for over ten years and counting — is a huge deal.
It's difficult to lump this deep, diverse and rowdy bunch together. The rappers (Killa MC, JT, Cash'mir and Bobby Sessions) and producers (King Blue, X'zavier and Ish) that make up the collective each have talent enough to stand on their own. More than that, each individual member has released a mixtape within the past year that's worth hearing. Now it's de facto leader Blue turn to once again release a new project. If there's one thing Brain Gang proves, though, it's that there really is strength in numbers.
No offense to the other rappers on this list, but Tum Tum's the only bona fide legend here. His days with DSR (Dirty South Rydaz) and national hits (“Caprice Music” is just a classic) pretty much paved the current path toward national success that every other rapper in the city is following. But Zillaman hasn't slowed down in recent years at all: With last fall's “Yeah Doe” collaboration with Dorrough, B-Hamp and Big Tuck earning heavy rotation on BET's 106 & Park, Tum Tum remains one of Dallas' biggest national success stories. And he keeps on supporting the up-and-comers in town, too, showing up as a surprise guest at various A.Dd+ and Dustin Cavazos shows. Even with his just-released F*ck a Co-Sign mixtape under his D.C.C. (Dallas City Council) banner, Zillaman refuses to stop putting on for his city.
Update on 10/25/13: Since this list came out, we've fallen in love with Lord Byron, too. Be sure to check his stuff out. It's badass.