Fans of the Houston hip-hop community who want a snapshot of the rap scene’s future will have to delve into its past.
When fans listen to breakthrough Houston rapper Kirko Bangz’s popular radio hit “Drank In My Cup,” his southeast Texas swagger is evident. The influence from well-known local rap label Swishahouse is exuded from the pores of the song’s title, delivery and lyrics.
Bangz grew up on Swishahouse, Screwed Up Click and the huge names that grew out of those rap houses that dominated the Houston scene.
Avid hip-hop fans know the names: Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Trae Tha Truth, Z-Ro and, of course, the late DJ Screw.
The next generation of Houston talent is bringing a new style to the table, embracing the past while forging a new path towards national relevancy.
Rapper Propain burst from the underground Houston scene to regional airplay with his radio hit “Say I Won’t” in August 2010.
Propain released his last mixtape, “Dangerous Minds,” in Boss Hogg Outlawz in December 2011, which showcases his full arsenal. He combines a Houston drawl with a college vocabulary. Think Chamillionare, but with a dope-boy message.
The single “Smiling Faces” showcases the connection to Houston’s past both lyrically and visually in the music video.
“Pro be spitting that fire. / These swangas is looking classic and they poking out of my tires.”
Later in the second verse he raps, “Double cup celebration, / it’s DJ Screw in my strya.”
Showing respect to Houston rap giants is a necessity, not an option — fans still like to take it slow.
Rapper Marcus Manchild understood that when he remixed New York native A.S.A.P Rocky’s “Purple Swag,” which honors the Houston pioneers of rap.
The catchy song featured crispy lyrics that outlined his experiences in the city that influenced his music.
“Pay homage to the ones who got the whole world talking ‘bout they put it up in two cups / purple drank up in the sprite, that’s Houston. / Now everybody talking ’bout they screwed up,” Manchild raps.
The song is tied together with the late Pimp C’s presence in the background — Manchild is angered by an apparent poaching of the Houston style by mainstream artists without the requisite amount of respect.
Manchild captures that anger by finishing the verse rapping, “When you grab your double cup, get your ice then think to pour up, get slowed up, remember where you got it from, hold up.”
The talented new breed of Houston rappers also includes Killa Kyleon. The former Boss Hogg Outlawz signee is Manchild’s label mate at AMG Records and consistently puts out quality music.
This town has a credible hip-hop scene and is ready to support the next rap act.
If the current crop of Houston hip-hop artists continues to build on the past, they can blossom their burgeoning success into a level the city is eager to experience again.