Everything is bigger in Texas, and that's certainly true when it comes to music. From legends like DJ Premier and The Geto Boys to newer artists like Travis Scott and Post Malone, Texas is rich with hip-hop history. Today, we're going to take a look at some of the best Texas rappers.
Hakeem Temidayo Seriki, better known by his stage name Chamillionaire, is a Houston rap artist with an extensive list of hits, features, and awards. Hakeem founded the legendary Texas rap group Color Changin' Click and performed with the group until they disbanded in 2005, with the members pursuing solo careers.
Chamillionaire's debut featured hit singles “Turn It Up” and “Ridin',” and helped propel the rapper to superstardom. Chamillionaire also had an exceptionally popular mixtape series entitled the Mixtape Messiah series. These days, Chamillionaire has shifted his focus from hip-hop to venture capital, and he's invested in several promising startups.
Bun B can make a real case for being one of the best Houston rappers ever. Bun is a founding member of UGK alongside the legendary Pimp C. Outside of the group, he's also had a legendary solo career.
Bun B put out his first solo album in 2005 and began to pursue his solo career more diligently after Pimp C's untimely passing in 2007. He's released five solo albums, with his 2010 album Trill OG earning a rare 5-mic rating from The Source magazine.
Devin the Dude
While Devin the Dude has never achieved mainstream success, he's considered one of the most inventive and influential rappers in hip-hop history. Devin has released eleven studio albums, including his 2002 album Just Tryin' Ta Live, which featured the classic songs “Lacville '79” and “Doobie Ashtray.”
Devin's style and cadence depart from what most of the best Texas rappers are doing, which is the main reason for his critical acclaim as one of the most unique voices in the genre.
This Houston-born rapper, singer, and producer has become one of the hottest artists in hip hop, and along with friend and label boss Travis Scott, Toliver has released some of the most influential songs of the last five years.
Toliver is best known for his debut album, Heaven or Hell, which featured the smash hit singles “No Idea” and “After Party.” He followed up his debut effort with 2021's Life of a Don, which helped position Don Toliver as one of Houston's most iconic rap artists.
While he might not be a rapper by trade, no list of Texas rap artists would be complete without mention of Premo. Premier is widely considered one of the greatest producers in hip-hop history, and he's worked with virtually every major rap artist over the last three decades. Beyond his work as a producer, DJ Premier makes up one-half of the iconic duo Gang Starr with rapper Guru.
Premier is widely credited for creating the “boom bap” sound associated with New York hip-hop in the 1990s.
The most influential figure in Texas hip-hop is, without a doubt, DJ Screw. Screw's iconic chopped-and-screwed mixing style was unique to Texas, and it helped put Houston on the map as one of the country's premier hip-hop destinations.
DJ Screw began DJing at age 12, and in his late teens, he pioneered the infamous chopped and screwed style, which saw records slowed down to around 60-70 BPM and then “chopped” with different DJ techniques.
Tragically, DJ Screw passed away at age 29 from a drug overdose.
Another legendary Houston rapper taken before his time, Fat Pat managed to leave his fingerprints all over the Texas hip-hop scene before his passing in 1998 at age 27. Authorities have never solved the murder.
Pat was a member of the Dead End Alliance and Screwed Up Click alongside his brother Big Hawk, DJ Screw, and Kay-K. Pat's acclaimed solo projects weren't released until after his passing, with his albums Ghetto Dreams and Throwed in the Game reaching critical acclaim.
The Geto Boys paved the way for other H-town artists and the more aggressive hip-hop subgenres that developed in the 90s. The most notable version of the group consisted of:
- Willie D
- Bushwick Bill
The group has six studio albums, and they're best known for their iconic hit, “Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta.”
The Geto Boys are credited with pushing the envelope of hip hop and inspiring countless acts, from other Texas rappers like UGK and Chamillionaire to T.I., Lil Wayne, Insane Clown Posse, and Eminem.
Megan Thee Stallion
This Houston superstar has experienced a meteoric rise thanks to equal parts brains, beauty, and talent. Megan capitalized on a grassroots buzz generated on apps like Instagram and TikTok while she was a student at Southern Prairie A&M.
Megan Thee Stallion broke out in 2021 on the strength of several smash hits, including “WAP” with Cardi B. Megan took home three Grammys that year, including Best New Artist honors.
Few rap artists have captivated an audience like Mike Jones, whose smash hit “Back Then” could be heard bumping from every car from California to New York (and especially in Houston.)
While Mike Jones wasn't able to fully capitalize on the success of that smash single, he's a legend of Houston hip hop and one of the pioneers of the chopped-and-screwed sound that's so closely associated with Texas.
These days, Mike Jones continues to record and produce music.
A legend of Houston's chopped and screwed scene, Paul Wall's career began in 1998 when he began working with Michael Watts' Swishahouse Records. Shortly after, Paul's credentials as a rapper began to shine through, and he joined the infamous Color Changin' Click with Chamillionaire and Slim Thug.
Wall rose to stardom thanks partly to appearances with other Houston rappers, most notably on Mike Jones' single “Still Tippin'”. Wall's first album, The People's Champ, debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and featured the smash hits “Sittin' Sidewayz,” “They Don't Know,” and “Girl.”
This hip-hop legend rose to fame thanks to his work with Bun B as part of the duo UGK (Underground Kingz). The group rose to stardom thanks to their album Ridin' Dirty, which peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart.
Unfortunately, Pimp C's life was cut short, and he passed at age 33, allegedly from complications related to sleep apnea and codeine use. Still, he remains one of the most influential figures in the Texas hip-hop scene.
Houston's Riff Raff, the most colorful personality on our list, first reached a national audience as part of the VH1 show From G's To Gents. Long before his TV appearance, Riff Raff was cultivating a local fan base in Houston, often selling mixtapes at the area malls.
While Riff Raff's music has never received critical acclaim, he's undoubtedly one of the hardest-working hip-hop artists and a master of leveraging social media. Riff Raff might not be the emcee you turn to for his lyrical prowess, but he's undoubtedly hilarious.
Widely considered one of the greatest emcees of all time, Houston's Scarface rose to prominence as a member of The Geto Boys. While his work with The Geto Boys is especially notable, his solo albums The Diary and The Last of a Dying Breed propelled Scarface's legendary career as a lyricist. The Source voted Scarface #16 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time.
Scarface presided over Def Jam South from 2000-2005 and won the 2015 BET I Am Hip Hop award. These days, Scarface is pursuing a career in public service, running for the office of councilperson in Houston's District D in 2020.
Another legend of the Houston rap scene, Slim Thug, began his career under the Swisha House imprint before releasing his solo material independently. Thug appeared on Mike Jones' iconic single “Still Tippin'” in 2005, which helped propel his solo career. Slim Thug's first three albums, Already Platinum, Boss of all Bosses, and Tha Thug Show, all met critical and public acclaim.
Slim Thug continues to produce music prolifically, and he's released 14 albums, including 2022's BIGslim.
This legendary Houston duo consisted of Bun B and Pimp C, and they're among the most influential figures in rap history. In 1992, the group signed to Jive Records on a five-album deal, and they largely remained a Houston-based act until they broke through in 2000, thanks in part to an appearance on Jay Z's “Big Pimpin'”.
Pimp C's death in 2007 may have cut the group short, but their six studio albums are among the most influential releases in history, and they continue to influence other emcees today.
A veteran of the 2017 XXL Freshman class and a regular collaborator with Lil Yachty, Ugly God has quietly kept the torch of Texas hip-hop burning since he first arrived on the scene in 2016. His 2016 single “Water” helped launch him into the public eye, along with collaborations with Lil Yachty.
Ugly God's debut album, Bumps & Bruises, peaked at 46 on the Billboard Top 200 chart in 2019, and his fans have been patiently waiting for his sophomore follow-up to arrive.
While he's closely associated with St. Louis, the successful rapper Nelly got his start in Austin, Texas. Nelly spent his teenage years in St. Louis, where he formed the group St. Lunatics with friends in the neighborhood. At first, Nelly's music was met with profoundly negative feedback by his record label, but after the release of his single “Country Grammar,” it was clear the label had caught lightning in a bottle.
Throughout his career, Nelly has released several platinum albums, and he's one of the most prolific rappers of the 21st century. More recently, Nelly has honed his acting chops, appearing in the movie The Longest Yard and on shows such as CSI: NY and Real Husbands of Hollywood.
South Houston native Maxo Kream has generated a great deal of buzz thanks partly to his lyrical style. Maxo's music blends his intelligent delivery with an honest view of his time growing up poor in South Houston.
Maxo's first full-length release, 2018's Punken was met with critical acclaim, and he signed with Roc Nation shortly after. Since then, he's released two additional full-length albums, Brandon Banks and Weight of the World.
While originally from Syracuse, New York, Post Malone grew up near Austin, Texas. Post fell in love with music at an early age and began playing guitar and experimenting with production software like FL Studio.
Post's first single, “White Iverson,” was an immediate hit and garnered interest from several major labels. After signing with Republic Records, Malone has released four studio albums, all of which have been received with commercial acclaim.
Trae Tha Truth
This Houston rapper rose to prominence in 1998 alongside friends and frequent collaborators like Z-Ro and Chamillionaire. His first albums, Losing Composure and Same Thing Different Day, helped solidify Trae as one of the best rappers from Houston. He's continued to put out material tirelessly since then. Trae has released 11 studio albums to date.
Outside of hip hop, Trae engages in a ton of charity work and was honored by Houston mayor Bill White with his own day in recognition of his incredible work within the community. Trae Day is celebrated in Houston every July 22nd.
One of the most prolific members of Houston's Screwed Up Click, Lil Keke rose to prominence with his track Southside in 1997. While he never achieved the commercial acclaim of other Houston rappers like UGK, Mike Jones, or Paul Wall, he's been critical in the success of Texas hip hop and an inspiration to many of his younger contemporaries.
Lil Keke has released an impressive 17 studio albums, and in 2016 he was honored by President Obama for his dedicated service to the Houston area.
Another member of the Screwed Up Click and an iconic Houston emcee in his own right, Lil Flip has released almost twenty studio albums. Flip is best known for his singles “The Way We Ball,” “Game Over,” and “Sunshine” and his 2004 double album U Gotta Feel Me.
Flip owns and operates his record label Clover G Records and wrote a book titled Don't Let the Music Industry Fool You!
This young Houston rapper rose to prominence with the YBN collective. The group disbanded in 2020, leading Jay to drop the YBN from his name. These days, he's known professionally as Almighty Jay. The rapper began generating significant buzz with his songs “Chopsticks” and “No Hook.”
Almighty Jay's most recent mixtape Battling My Spirit released in 2021, and he's currently a member of the Atlantic Records roster of artists. Fans and critics alike are awaiting Jay's full-length studio debut.
The hip-hop legend Bushwick Bill first entered the public eye serving as a hype man for the original lineup of The Geto Boys. After the group disbanded, Bill created a new lineup, which featured Scarface and Willie D.
Bill had several solo albums outside his work with The Geto Boys. Sadly, he died too young, at age 52, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Brockhampton is one of the most interesting acts on our list, and this polarizing group can be categorized as anything from a hip-hop group to a boy band. Beyond the group's primary members, it's a collective that includes artists, photographers, and creative directors. The group is best known for its songs “Sugar,” “Bleach,” and “Rental.”
The group went on indefinite hiatus in 2022 after releasing their final two albums.
This XXL Freshman alumnus rose to prominence off the strength of two popular mixtape series, Procrastination Kills and Progression. His 2011 single “What Yo Name Iz” helped solidify him as one of Houston's most promising up-and-coming artists, and he followed up on his buzz with several acclaimed mixtapes and feature performances.
We haven't heard much from Kirko lately, but his unique take on R&B, as seen through the lens of a Houston native, has left an indelible mark on the Texas hip-hop scene.
Rob Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice, called Dallas his home for much of his childhood, long before he recorded the hit “Ice, Ice Baby.” As a teenager, Rob was passionate about breakdancing and motocross. After breaking his ankle racing professionally, he decided to pursue a career as a rapper and dancer, recording the legendary smash hit in 1989.
Beyond his status as one of the most notable one-hit-wonders of all time, Ice has popped in and out of the public eye over the past three-plus decades with several film and TV roles.
Machine Gun Kelly
Before he broke through as an alt-rock artist, Houston's Machine Gun Kelly released many bonafide hip-hop records and mixtapes that continue to influence new artists. MGK is also one of the few artists to blend rock with hip-hop effectively and is well-regarded commercially in both arenas.
In 2012, MGK was featured as an XXL Freshman alongside Macklemore and French Montana, and his first few tapes included the likes of Bun B, DMX, and Young Jeezy. In 2018, the rapper famously beefed with Eminem before pivoting towards rock, which has brought him success.
Before he was one of the biggest musical acts in the world, Travis Scott was just another kid from Houston. His introduction to the industry was tumultuous and featured numerous starts and stops before he could truly get the ball rolling. Before his commercial success, Scott was a valued collaborator of Kanye West and Kid Cudi.
Scott was a member of the 2013 XXL Freshman Class, which helped jumpstart his career as a solo performer. His 2015 single “Antidote” introduced Scott to a national audience, and he's been releasing hit records and collaborating with some of the biggest names in fashion and culture since then.
Houston's Sauce Walka first debuted in 2014 and has proven to be one of Houston's most prolific emcees since. He's also the founder of The Sauce Factory record label, which boasts a roster of up-and-coming artists. On his own tapes, he's collaborated with superstars like A$AP Rocky and Migos, along with fellow Houston rappers like Lil Keke, Maxo Kream, Travis Scott, and Slim Thug.
Top Texas Rappers, Final Thoughts
With a legendary history of producing groundbreaking artists, Texas stands with New York, Atlanta, and California as one of the four pillars of hip-hop. These top Texas rappers helped to cement the state as a premier destination for hip-hop.
With new artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Travis Scott continuing to push Texas hip-hop forward, it's clear that the best is yet to come for rap music in Texas.