If you grew up in the 2000s, it was almost impossible to not fall in love with Texas rap. For the first time, rap from this state was becoming more mainstream—especially coming out of Houston—introducing a new generation to the state’s rich rap history. Texas is still going strong today with some huge names dominating the industry.
Of all of the rappers who came from the Lone Star State, which ones rank as the best, though? Here’s our pick for the top 15 Texas rappers of all time:
1. Travis Scott
The top spot on the list belongs to Jacques Webster II, also known as Travis Scott. He is one of those first musicians to get famous through social media after being discovered through Myspace while rapping in a duo. He was signed to Kanye West’s record label in the early 2010s and began to receive national attention quickly thereafter.
His first major studio album was released in 2015 with Rodeo, and he became a household name in rap thanks to albums like Astroworld, earning several Grammy nominations along the way. In 2018, he landed his first number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 with Sicko Mode and has reached the top of the charts multiple times since then.
Travis Scott’s best songs have dominated the hip hop radio waves, and don’t be surprised if this continues.
Born as Bradley Jordan, Scarface came from Houston and was a DJ before signing his first record deal and joining the Geto Boys. The collective would find success almost instantly when working together, but Scarface was also tabbed for a solo career.
With that, he released his debut solo album in 1991 with Mr. Scarface Is Back and continued to churn out albums throughout the rest of the 1990s and 2000s. He has been heralded not only as one of the greatest MCs and rappers from Texas but also by the entire nation thanks to songs like I Seen A Man Die and Smile.
3. Megan Thee Stallion
Just like Travis Scott, Megan Thee Stallion, real name Megan Jovon Ruth Pete, found her footing on social media platforms before finding mainstream success. She was signed to her first record deal in 2018, releasing her first studio album, Good News, two years later. It didn’t take long for her to start racking up awards, including multiple Grammys.
She really burst onto the scene in terms of popularity in 2019 with the release of her song Hot Girl Summer, and she scored her first number-one hit the following year, Savage. Some of her other hit tracks include Body, Sweetest Pie, and Thot Shit.
4. Bun B
Half of the legendary rap duo UGK, Bernard “Bun B” Freeman was raised in Houston where he became part of the city’s great rap scene. He formed UGK in 1987, and the duo released six albums together, including their number-one album Underground Kingz in 2007, which produced their biggest hit International Players Anthem.
As a featured artist, he appeared on songs like Big Pimpin and Sippin’ On Some Syrup while also embarking on a successful solo career. He released three top-five albums and had successful songs like Get Throwed and That’s Gangsta.
5. Pimp C
Of course, you can’t mention Bun B and UGK without bringing up the late Chad “Pimp C” Butler, the other half of the duo. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t go down the same path that Bun B did. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, which essentially ended UGK’s run, and he would miss out during his prime. At just 33 years old, he was found dead in his hotel room in 2007, though there have been posthumous releases of his work.
Next: The best Memphis rappers
6. The D.O.C.
Tracy Curry has enjoyed a fine solo career over the years while also collaborating with some of the greatest collectives of all time including N.W.A. and the Fila Fresh Crew. He separated from the latter group during the late 1980s, and his solo career quickly took off thanks to hits like It’s Funky Enough. While still in his prime, he suffered a throat injury after a car crash that made it difficult for him to rap until his voice recovered many years later.
When people think of Chamillionaire, their minds, unfortunately, think that he’s a one-hit-wonder, but Hakeem Seriki has had a lot more to offer during his long career. After setting out on a solo career, he hit it big with his album The Sound Of Revenge, which featured huge tracks like Turn It Up and, of course, Ridin’, which reached the top of the charts. He is a Grammy winner that would release just one more studio album before turning his attention to business rather than music.
8. Slim Thug
When the Houston rap scene started to gain mainstream popularity during the early 2000s, one of its biggest beneficiaries was Stayve Thomas, also known as Slim Thug. After being a freestyle rapper for several years, he started an independent record label to earn money before landing a deal with a major label. He released his debut album Already Platinum in 2005. He would then create hit songs including I Run and So High while working with the likes of Beyoncé.
9. Paul Wall
Another one of the Houston rap legends of the early 2000s, Paul Slayton, better known as Paul Wall, came up with his pal Chamillionaire as the two were rapping together during Wall’s college years. In 2004, he released his debut album Chick Magnet and has created more than a dozen in total. A Grammy nominee, he has had several hit songs including Girl, Break ‘Em Off, and Sittin’ Sidewayz.
10. Willie D
Earlier we had mentioned Scarface, but he wasn’t the only member of the Geto Boys as he was also joined by Willie D, a former boxer who joined the group in 1989 to complete the original lineup. He remained with the lineup during their peak years and then went on to pursue a solo career. He has released five solo albums with hit songs like Clean Up Man and Dear God. These days, he is doing social commentary videos on YouTube and racking up views.
Joseph McVey IV was born in Houston and grew up in the southwestern part of the city where he freestyle rapped after listening to some of the city’s other legendary performers like the Geto Boys. It was while Z-Ro was freestyle rapping that he was discovered and signed to a label, releasing his debut album The Life Of Joseph W. McVey in 2004.
He then went on to release albums on an almost yearly basis, and although he didn’t reach mainstream success, he has been recognized throughout the rap community thanks to songs like Never (These Days) and Top Notch.
12. Mike Jones
To this day, whenever someone asks “who?” many of us will respond with Mike Jones thanks to the Houston rapper who hit it big during the mid-2000s. He signed with Swishahouse Records and became a household name (and phone number) with the release of his debut album Who Is Mike Jones? in 2005. Though he would release just two albums in total, he became a cultural icon and had huge hits like Back Then and Next To You.
13. Trae tha Truth
As a teenager in the 1990s, Frazier Thompson III adopted the name Trae tha Truth and became one of the biggest rappers in Houston history. He got his start by appearing as a guest rapper on songs for other performers like Z-Ro before finding solo success during the early 2000s. He has released more than a dozen albums since then, making waves with songs like In The Hood and Screwed Up.
14. DJ Screw
If it weren’t for the late DJ Screw, real name Robert Davis Jr., there might not have been a Houston rap scene that was recognized on a national scale. These days, we all know about the ‘chopped and screwed’ style of rap music, and it was DJ Screw who created the genre. Prior to his untimely death in 2000, he had released hundreds of mixtapes. Though he himself was more of a DJ than a rapper, he deserved recognition for his contribution to Texas rap.
15. Vanilla Ice
While it might not seem right to include Vanilla Ice, especially since he claimed Miami residency, for the most part, Rob Van Winkle is actually from Dallas, Texas. He spent his early life split almost evenly between the two cities and would open for the likes of N.W.A. and Public Enemy early on in his career.
Of course, he swept the world with the release of Ice Ice Baby, becoming a must-see white rapper act in the game. He was off to a hot start before leaving music in the mid-1990s. These days, he is a staple of television and film, including hosting multiple TV shows.
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