The Dirty South Music
Lets start with the history
Houston has found itself being home to a very distinct sound of rap and a unique group of artists, thus making it a prominent place in the history of rap all together. Many people have found their start here. Specifically, during the 1900s and 2000s Houstonians found themselves becoming more mixed in with the genre. This can be credited to Rap-A-Lot records which was founded in 1986 by James ‘Lil J’ Smith. This record label was the birth place of The Geto Boys who were one of the pioneer’s pf rap in Houston.
Now rap in Houston be discussed if we don’t bring in the chopped and screwed side of it. This is the heart and official sound of Houston rap. While the mainstream music at the time were speeding beats up to give it a dance flow, DJ Screw (a key figure in Houston rap), decided to shake things up by slowing it down. This slowed choppy sound will stick around for years and be a huge influence on another Houston artist.
Devin the Dude
That is only a small percentage of artist who found their start in Houston, and most people probably don’t even know who these people are or that Houston had such a prominent stance in the world of rap. Scholar Maco Faniel says, “We seem to have a lack of knowledge about our own history here in Houston… It’s crazy how much has been forgotten considering the city’s contributions to American music in zydeco, jazz, blues, and especially hip hop.”
The world of hip hop has seen drastic changes about style and sound, and with that comes a change in the ear of the audience. Giving the people what they want to hear is the struggle of every artist. It was not even until the 1990s that hip hop wasn’t considered to be an alternative form of music in Houston any more. However, it seems that these artist that are already established don’t find it too hard to bend with the trend while holding on to their fan base.
“The root of Houston’s sound is still there, that chopped and screwed flow. It’s more like we are building on top of it, not taking it away,” said K. Stills, a sound producer in Houston. “It does make it hard for us to get our stuff heard though. Your faced with the dilemma of changing for the people, or staying true to yourself.”
One thing about trying to be an artist in Houston is that you are far from the only one. Everyone wants to be famous. Houston has never lost its spunk. On the more recent side of history we have artist like Travis Scott who have found success in Houston. The question is not whether Houston is the place to be. The question is what do you need to do to claim your spot.
There are tons of places to go to and try to perform. Although nine of those places may say no, it may be the 10th one that says yes. What are they looking for? Who really knows.
While you have those that truly are looking for good acts, you also have those that are looking for money. This is when you find yourself on stage after days of practice just to perform for 5–10 people. It sucks. But you can’t stop there either. Houston is full of opportunities. You just have to hustle for the right ones.
Every artist faces the same trials and tribulations no matter where you are located. It’s all a matter of not giving up. Those little moments of success add up to be something incredible, and that makes everything worth it.
So, what was the point of this? The point is to say Houston never lost its spunk. The same opportunities that every artist has had are still alive and well, waiting for their next victim. Houston is clutch city, the city of no limits. It is sort of like New York, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. There is always going to be someone who says no. That just means it isn’t your time yet. Houston is thriving, and she’s waiting on you to thrive too.
Rapper T-Shawn sums it up like this. “I want to inspire others the way I had to inspire myself. The open-minded listeners of Houston give me the opportunity to make my music unique, and will soon help me spread my music to a wider audience.”