A Running Diary Recap Of Sunday's 43-Act-Strong Texas Rap Fest at Gexa Energy Pavilion.
It doesn't take a huge rap concert — and, yes, yesterday's Texas Rap Fest at Gexa Energy Pavilion was indeed a huge event, at least in concept — to prove that Dallas is, and apparently always will be, Houston's little brother in the rap world.
That's just a known fact, really. Disagree? Well, this isn't the time or the place to hammer out that debate.
Just know this: The lineup for the first-ever showcase of this kind wasn't meant to show off the newest and brightest talents this state has to offer. Not at all. In turn, bubbling-up Houston emcees Killa Kyleon, Fat Tony, Le$ and Kirko Bangz were all absent from the bill, as were fresh-faced Dallas standouts A.Dd+, The Outfit TX, Blue The Misfit and Buffalo Black — although, to be fair, Dallas did have some solid representation on this day from the likes of Dustin Cavazos, Yung Nation, Pooca Leroy and Dorrough. Rather, the overall intent of this bill seemed to be a celebration of how great Texas hip-hop has been, and how much of an influence the state has had on the current state of hip-hop through its trill mentality, its screwed-and-chopped sample forays and, yes, even the Dallas boogie movement.
Or, well, this had to have been the intent, considering how most of the artists on the bill hardly performed a track that was released after 2007.
Still, great as it is to see Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Paul Wall perform “Still Tippin” together, it's hard not to refer to 85 percent of the artists on the bill — The Geto Boys, Bun B, Lil Flip, Big Tuck, Fat Pimp, etc. — in the past tense. This was the ultimate nostalgia festival for any lover of Texas hip-hop.
Sure, it's a little bit of a shame that the Texas Rap Fest wasn't so much a celebration of all things Texas and hip-hop and instead a walk down memory lane for how great Texas hip-hop was at one time. But, that being said, this was a festival with 43 artists and a lot of stuff happened.
So, to cover as many of those happenings as possible, here’s a running diary recap of the day's highlights.
4:45 p.m. The festival started a few hours ago, and the lawn is still pretty empty. But there are lots of people lined up on the very back of the venue's wall for some reason. I guess the coolest people always line up against the wall — even if it's 300 yards from anything relevant happening.
4:47 p.m. I've only been here two minutes and the DJ already dropped “Tuesday.”
5:15 p.m. Man, Treal Lee and Prince Rick just look so happy to be here. It's fantastic.
5:18 p.m. Treal and Prince's “Throwed Off” is and always will be a banger. It doesn't matter when it's played. In any circumstance, it's a track that deserves to be celebrated.
5:21 p.m. There are 43 artists on this bill. Yes, 43. How are they all getting stage time? Because the organizers are tossing them out at a rapid-fire pace. Like, an insane pace. This is a sprint.
5:30 p.m. Fat Pimp is a legend, just ask him. Too bad even his hometown Dallas crowd doesn't believe him. Maybe that's because he wavers back and forth between claiming Dallas and Houston as his home? Pick one, man.
5:33 p.m. Fat swears he dropped one of the great Dallas tracks of all time in 2008. Hey, “Rack Daddy” was pretty fun there for a time. But, again, this Dallas crowd doesn't believe him.
5:50 p.m. Big Chief's on now. And he really might be a legend in this town, to be frank. Few Dallas rappers have been going for as long as Chief has, and even fewer have done anything with less support from radio. But, see, here's the truly unfortunate thing: Dallas crowds don't care about Dallas rappers. I'm sorry, but they don't. Not in my experience and not here at this show — unless, I dunno, maybe this abnormal heat for October is taking its toll. But, c'mon, there's no way.
5:52 p.m. Seriously, it's pretty sad that these Dallas artists have to resort to shouting out the Dallas Cowboys in order to get a response from the crowd. This is an institutional problem, folks.
6 p.m. OK, a real, bona fide Dallas rap legend is on stage now. Except, Big Tuck isn't even trying. Can you blame him, though? He started his set off with “Southside Da Realist” and this crowd barely even noticed. What the hell?
6:17 p.m. “Not A Stain On Me” hardly registers a response, either. Jesus.
6:23 p.m. Man, “Tussle” is a flop, too? This is bad. This crowd is impossibly tough. I don't even know what's going on any more. Where's Tum Tum when you need him?
6:24 p.m. Ugh, the machismo element in hip-hop is just the worst. Everyone has to be cool or tough, and, in turn, they lack any sort of emotion — like joy. C'mon. Is joy so hard?
6:30 p.m. Houston's Michael Watts just took over as house DJ. Swishahouse is officially taking over the rest of the night. Maybe this is a good thing. I don't even know.
6:40 p.m. Oh, OK. Lil Keke just rapped over Tuck's “Not A Stain On Me” and the crowd stands up and goes crazy. Because he's not from Dallas, I guess? This is embarrassing.
6:53 p.m. So this is pretty insane: There's a booth here where they're selling every Swishahouse recording. Every. Single. One of them. Wow.
7 p.m. Shout out to Dorrough for actually enjoying himself and smiling the whole time he's been onstage.
7:03 p.m. Hey, remember that one time when “Ice Cream Paint Job” went platinum and was indisputably one of the top songs in the country? Dorrough does, and he's intent on making sure everyone else in attendance does, too. Hey, good on him. That's an accomplishment few other acts on this bill can claim.
7:10 p.m. The beat for the Lil Boosie-featuring “Beat Up The Block” is playing in the background, but Dorrough's just kinda pacing around the stage.
7:11 p.m. Dorrough just promised the crowd that this song will be No. 1 in the country in a couple months. He is really confident about this. The beat is still playing. The song came out in August.
7: 12 p.m. Now Dorrough's talking about how he's had some misses in the past. Yes, he mentions “Halle Berry”. But “Beat Up The Block” is going to be different, you guys! Dorrough swears.
7:15 p.m. Oh, hey: Dorrough stopped talking about “Beat Up The Block” and is now finally performing it. Maybe he's pretty crafty after all: Pretty much everyone in Gexa is standing up and dancing along. It's a beautiful thing.
7:28 p.m. So here's a fun observation about Texas rap. All of these guys legitimately live up to their names. Big Pokey, Big Mike and Big Tuck are all very big. Slim Thug is, in fact, quite slim. And, um, Fat Pimp? Yup.
7:30 p.m. Y'know, looking at Lil Flip now, it's suddenly pretty obvious where Migos got its style.
7:36 p.m. The Freestyle King is doing “We Blow Endo” right now and there's a line that goes, “What happened? I done blew up too quick.” Well, if that isn't the lasting statement for the artists on Texas Rap Fest bell, then I don't know what is.
7:38 p.m. Flipperaci's voice has gotten so deep these days.
7:40: Lil Flip had plenty of hits. But he really only cares to sample a couple of them real quick at this show, including “Game Over.”
7: 50 p.m. DJ Michael “5000” Watts just dropped “Drank Up In My Cup” and the crowd just erupted.
8 p.m. Mike Jones has the slowest, most awkward start to his set but is rapping with the fervor of an up-and-comer. Good on him for actually caring.
8:11 p.m. Jones has now run through a number of his old hits, including “Back Then,” “Badd” and “Flossin”. But the crowd refuses to admit they know these songs. Um, don't they know this guy isn't from Dallas?
8:20 p.m. Considering the lineup, it was pretty obvious that Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Paul Wall would perform “Still Tippin” here. Still, it's a little awkward: Mike Jones wants to perform it sooner than planned, and here we are waiting for Wall and Thug to get to the stage.
8:24 p.m. I TAKE BACK EVERYTHING. ALL THAT AWKWARDNESS WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT.
8:28 p.m. Slim Thug tells the crowd that he and the rest of the Houston boys have been coming to Dallas since 1998, but that this is one of the best moments. Hey, coronations aren't always prompt.
8:49 p.m. Z-Ro hates you, bitch.
9 p.m. Paul Wall and Chamillionaire are performing together. It's awesome. Honestly, this is even better than seeing the “Still Tippin” reunion.
9:18 p.m. Not a single song these two have performed was made after 2006. Nostalgia's a hell of a drug. And I'm addicted.
9:19 p.m. Why wasn't Chamillionaire a mainstay in the mainstream? Someone explain that to me, please. He's awesome.
9:35 p.m. Here's a harsh truth: Bun B is a legend, but he just isn't that great of a performer on his own. Sorry, world.
9:39 p.m. Watching Bun B's face when he shouts out Pimp C is one of the most heartbreaking things you'll ever see in person. It's just the saddest.
10:07 p.m. Dear DJ man: We get it. The after party is at Onyx. We heard you the first 40 times.
10:09 p.m. Welp, I guess this crowd wasn't here to see The Geto Boys. They're one song in and half the crowd has already filed out.
10:13 p.m. People are idiots. The Geto Boys are great entertainers. Bushwick Bill is putting in more effort for this performance than any other artist on the bill today. And people are worried about getting to their cars. Shame on everyone.
10:23 p.m. Y'know, credit where it's due: It's not every show that can handle 43 acts, many of whom have histories of beef with one another, and not go totally wheels-off. The execution here was impressive, I'll concede. That's my big takeaway here, I guess. Well, that and the fact that Dallas doesn't care about Dallas rappers even though it always complains about the lack of shine its rappers receive. Well, turns out actions speak louder than words — in both of these cases. At least Texas pride is real.