15 Best Houston Rappers You Will Love

Here are some of the best Houston rappers

The Houston hip-hop scene never got the name recognition of regional scenes like New York and L.A. Nevertheless, Houston rap has been innovating and evolving since the late 1980’s and continues to have much to offer to fans of hip-hop. Join me as we look at fifteen of the best Houston rappers—from old legends to rising talents.

The Best Houston Rappers (TLDR)

To get to the root of the Houston rap scene, the influential gangster rappers Geto Boys put Houston hip-hop on the map. 

In the late 90’s and into the 2000’s, rappers like Big Moe utilized the revolutionary production techniques of DJ Screw to produce some classic material. 

And then, of course, artists like Megan thee Stallion have continued to shake up the hip-hop world in the modern era.

1. Geto Boys

With iconic gangster rap hits like “Still” becoming part of the pop culture fabric, it’s hard to talk about Houston hip-hop without mentioning Geto Boys. These guys got their start back in the 80’s and essentially kickstarted the Houston rap scene. 

They put out many classics throughout the 90’s that showcased their heavy and menacing sound, with lyrics so brutal they once had a video banned from MTV.

Favorite Song by Geto Boys: “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” is one of the group’s well-known hits, but it’s an enduring classic. It’s got a chill beat with reflective and somber lyrics. 

2. Scarface

While Scarface is indeed a member of Geto Boys, his excellent solo career more than qualifies the Houston rapper for his own entry on the list. On some days I think his best work on g-funk classics like The Diary even eclipses Geto Boys at their best. Scarface continues to release albums into the modern era, proving himself an OG for life. 

Favorite Song by Scarface: “I Seen a Man Die” from 1994’s The Diary is another stark and reflective look at the gangster lifestyle, a harrowing track that explores the trauma many in “the game” suffer. 

3. Megan Thee Stallion

One of the hottest and most controversial stars in pop music right now, Megan Thee Stallion’s grip on hip-hop is undeniable ever since “Savage” and “W.A.P.” propelled her to the stratosphere (the latter song featuring an assist from her friend Cardi B). Whether you like her or not, her music is fun, delightfully catchy, and super raunchy.

Favorite Song by Megan thee Stallion: “Cocky AF” pretty much sums up Megan’s mantra, and I love the boastful and over-the-top energy. 

4. Slim Thug

Slim Thug has been in the game for over twenty years and shows no signs of slowing down, having released almost an album a year and nearly as many mixtapes since 2001. Slim Thug has always released reliable southern gangster rap, and while he isn’t an arena level artist, he’s widely respected in the underground. 

Favorite Song by Slim Thug: “I Ain’t Heard of That” is a classic from Slim’s Already Platinum. This is a smooth jam that features classic gangster boasts.

5. Big Moe

DJ Screw revolutionized hip-hop by creating the “chopped ‘n’ screwed” production technique, which gives the music a distorted and wavy effect that creates a unique atmosphere. Screw’s record label Screwed Up Records released many great artists, and Big Moe was one of the best. His ode to codeine City of Syrup is a soulful and laid back party rap album with great production.

Favorite Song by Big Moe: “City of Syrup,” title track of the late rapper’s 2000 album, is a chill tribute to cough syrup featuring some of Houston’s biggest names like Z-Ro and DJ Screw.

6. Z-Ro

Another great rapper from DJ Screw’s “Screwed Up Click,” Z-Ro represents the yin to Big Moe’s yang. Z-Ro is an emotional rapper who pens dark laments of street life, often utilizing samples of Latin-tinged acoustic guitars which fit the outlaw vibe of his music. He’s released over 40 albums since 1998, and the lightning-fast rapper doesn’t show any sign of stopping.

Favorite Song by Z-Ro: “City of Killers” is the epic showcase from Z-Ro’s debut Look What You Did to Me. The song manages to be laid back and intense at the same time due to Z-Ro’s quick delivery and chill beats.

7. Fat Pat

Another affiliate of the Screwed Up Click collective, Fat Pat’s contributions to the hip-hop world were tragically cut short after his still-unsolved murder in 1998. His posthumous debut album Ghetto Dreams is another late 90’s southern rap banger. 

Favorite Song by Fat Pat: “Am I A Playa” is the laid-back and boastful opener of Ghetto Dreams, Pat’s baritone voice blending seamlessly with the great synth samples.

8. Beat King

Beat King is a modern rapper who has been prolific since hitting the Houston scene in the early 2010’s. While his activity has lulled following his massive Columbia Records deal in 2020, his 2014 mixtape collaboration Underground Cassette Tape Music established Beat King as someone to look out for and he’s released a lot of good material since. He mixes modern club-oriented party rap with the menacing sounds of Memphis hip-hop like Three 6 Mafia. 

Favorite Song by Beat King: “Dollar Signs” from Underground Cassette Tape Music is a banger, showcasing the late Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia fame with Beat King blending the old school with the new school in style.

9. Chamillionaire

Chamillionaire was one of Houston’s most lucrative exports during the mid-2000’s, his gangster anthem “Ridin’” becoming so huge that the rapper was blessed with a parody from Weird Al. Despite “Ridin’” going down as Chamillionaire’s biggest hit, his second and final studio album Ultimate Victory is his best collection of southern rap jams. 

Favorite Song by Chamillionaire: “The Evening News” from 2007’s Ultimate Victory features Chamillionaire at his most socially conscious, with biting social commentary and topical raps. I would have loved to have seen him do more songs like this. 

10. K-Rino

K-Rino is one of Houston’s most prolific rappers, even beating out Z-Ro with a whopping 46 albums. K-Rino was one of the first Houston rappers to incorporate socially conscious and political lyrics into his raps, as well as combining elements of occult imagery, humor, and more. While those into underground rap sing K-Rino’s praises, he remains criminally underrated by the public at large. 

Favorite Song by K-Rino: “Step Into The Mind” is the first track that comes to mind from the rapper’s massive catalogue. This opening track on his 1993 debut Stories from the Black Book establishes K-Rino as a unique and formidable force from the beginning, featuring dark and minimalist beats and politically charged lyrics. 

11. Ganksta N-I-P

If you like heavy hip-hop with dark and brutal imagery, look no further than Ganksta N-I-P. Fans of Memphis rap and horrorcore would be advised to check out 1992’s The South Park Psycho, as it was Ganksta who introduced these elements to the Houston scene. 

Favorite Song by Ganksta N-I-P: “Action Speaks Louder Than Words” is a masterclass in juxtaposition, balancing chilled out bass-heavy beats with some of the most sadistic lyrics of the era, which says something. This track features contributions from Geto Boys. 

12. Paul Wall

Paul Wall hit the scene in the mid-2000’s as a skinny white guy with grills on his teeth, and I can remember him being a bit of a punchline among hip-hop fans. I happen to be a fan of mid-2000’s southern party rap, and Paul Wall produced some fun tunes in his heyday. 

Favorite Song by Paul Wall: “Internet Going Nutz” is hilarious. This isn’t the place to look for biting social commentary—this is goofy and boast-filled rap that knows it and owns it. 

13. E.S.G.

One of the most overlooked rappers from Houston’s Screwed Up Click, E.S.G. released several great albums in the 90’s that were full of slick g-funk with a uniquely southern take. E.S.G.’s recent releases don’t match the greatness of his early work, but he deserves a mention for being an original who’s still in the hip-hop game.

Favorite Song by E.S.G.: “Swangin’ and Bangin’ Screwed” is a classic party track given the DJ Screw treatment on the production end, giving this g-funk jam its Houston touch. 

14. OMB Bloodbath

OMB Bloodbath is an up-and-coming female rapper from Houston who’s following in the footsteps of rappers of old while incorporating trap influence as well. While Bloodbath hasn’t scored a hit yet, give it time—her collaboration with Maxo Kream called “Dropout” is a great track.

Favorite Song by OMB Bloodbath: “Dropout” is a great single from 2020 that left me wanting a full length from this rising Houston native. 

15. UGK

Saving one of the best for last, you simply cannot talk about Houston rap in a serious manner without giving props to UGK, the “Underground Kingz” who were there in 1987 when the only other people in the Houston scene were Geto Boys. The duo of Bun B and the late Pimp C created some of the most timeless hip-hop ever, especially on 1996’s classic Ridin’ Dirty

Favorite Song by UGK: “That’s Why I Carry” is the epic six-minute track on Ridin’ Dirty and it doesn’t lose my attention for a second. Bun B and Pimp C did some fine material on their own, but when those two were in the same room it was a magical chemistry. This is some of the defining southern hip-hop of the 90’s, rivalling even Outkast in my book. 

The Houston rap scene for decades has provided a plethora of amazing talents and continues to do so. These are only 15 of the best Houston rappers, and there are plenty more. If you’re unfamiliar with what Houston rap has to offer, hopefully this list exposes you to the diversity, experimental beats, and lyrical depth that put the Texas city on the map in the 90’s. 

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This article was written by Avery and edited by Michael.

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