Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions

Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions

Tom Fox/Staff Photographer

Dallas has had a thriving hip-hop scene for years now, a fact that’s overlooked far too often.

Dallas rapper the D.O.C., who shaped the course of hip-hop, made his mark in California and didn’t rep Big D. Same for “White Iverson” and “Congratulations” rapper Post Malone, who grew up in Grapevine but blew up in Los Angeles. Though we did produce Vanilla Ice and his (in)famous “Ice Ice Baby,” we’re also home to the queen of neo-soul Erykah Badu, who has made her mark on hip-hop despite being a singer.

Sam Lap is one of the notable names in the Dallas hip-hop scene.

Sam Lap is one of the notable names in the Dallas hip-hop scene.

Jeremy Biggers/Special Contributor

As noted in the documentary We From Dallas, Dallas has had a hip-hop scene since at least 1983, when DJ Ushy Eron dropped “Neck Work.” While rappers perform all over North Texas, Deep Ellum is the place for live shows.

Local rappers have offered a variety of flavors, from gritty bangers to catchy dance songs to socially conscious anthems and just about everything in between. The scene is vast and full of great talent. Here’s just a taste of what the Dallas hip-hop scene has to offer: notable musicians, can’t-miss venues and six tracks to play on repeat.

NAMES TO KNOW

Bobby Sessions

Dallas rapper who penned 'Black America' comes back with new album, 'Grateful'

As the self-proclaimed “legend from Dallas, Texas,” Bobby Sessions is one of DFW’s best MCs. Bobby’s debut album LOA (Law Of Attraction) included “Black America,” a powerful song about racism which earned him national attention. Working with local producers like Picnictyme, R.C. Williams and Sikwitit, Sessions recently dropped his second album, Grateful, which is filled with some of the best conscious hip-hop in the country right now. But it’s not all serious: He’s also known for “Peyton Manning,” which is an upbeat song filled with rapid-fire witty lyrics. Directed by Dallas artist Jeremy Biggers, the music video was shot at a Bedford football stadium. The track features -topic, another notable Dallas hip-hop name who recently moved to Oakland.

Sam Lao

Sam Lao

Sam Lao

Jeremy Biggers/Special Contributor

It’s possible to argue that Sam Lao is sometimes closer to R&B than rap, but when she does rap, few in the city can match her talent. She’s been a staple in the community for years and has teamed up with a number of other local artists including Blue, the Misfit, -topic and Sessions. Last year she dropped SPCTRM and a music video for her hit “Pineapple,” which has been described by Fusion as “an anti-catcalling anthem.” The video was also directed by Biggers, her husband.

As a female in hip-hop, Lao has had to deal with sexism throughout her career. But as one of Dallas' few female rappers, Lao says, “it has given me more room to have an impact.”

FXXXXY

FXXXXY

FXXXXY

Calvin Collins/Special Contributor

FXXXXY is one of the fresher faces in the DFW scene -- and already one of the hottest. He’s on the same label as Buffalo Black, another Dallas MC who drops incredible conscious rap. His “Lip Service 6” off Flawed Up Shawty sounds somewhat similar to mainstream hip-hop hits like Travis Scott’s “Goosebumps.”  You’re probably not going to learn a whole lot listening to FXXXXY, but you’re definitely going to have a good time. On “Lip Service 6," he literally drops the alphabet as the hook -- and the ABCs have never sounded so lit.

(note this video is NSFW)

CAN'T MISS HIP-HOP VENUES

Trees

Trees on Elm Street in Deep Ellum is unquestionably one of the best spots for Dallas hip-hop. The mid-sized venue has hosted -topic; Blue, the Misfit; Lao; Sessions; A.Dd+ and countless other local rappers over the years. And even when D-FW’s rappers aren’t on the stage, they’re often found in the crowd supporting the local hip-hop community. The Trees stage has also been rocked by bigger names like Post Malone, Big Sean and Juicy J. Trees is located at 2709 Elm St., Dallas.

The Bomb Factory

Wiz Khalifa performs at the Bomb Factory in Dallas on Nov. 18, 2016. 

Wiz Khalifa performs at the Bomb Factory in Dallas on Nov. 18, 2016. 

Jason Janik/Special Contributor

Originally one of Henry Ford’s first automobile assembly plants, the Bomb Factory debuted as a music venue in 1993 but closed in 1997. The 48,000-square-foot venue reopened in March 2015 with a sold-out show headlined by Badu. While the Bomb Factory might be one of the best live music venues in Dallas period, it’s unquestionably a top-notch facility for hip-hop as well. When the D.O.C. returned to Dallas, he performed there. And so have other famous rappers: Ludacris, Rick Ross, Future, Chance the Rapper, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Wiz Khalifa and more. The Bomb Factory is located at 2713 Canton St., Dallas.

RBC

While Trees and The Bomb Factory are clearly Dallas’ best hip-hop venues, it’s gets tougher after that. But RBC -- which, like almost every other rap-friendly venue in Dallas, is in Deep Ellum -- does a great job supporting the local scene. Sessions recently hosted his album release party at the venue, and Lao, -topic and others have rocked the stage too. Blue, the Misfit -- one of the city’s finest MCs and DJs -- is there on Sundays. RBC is located at 2617 Commerce St., Dallas.

6 TRACKS TO PLAY ON REPEAT

Mr. Pookie's "Crook for Life"

Richardson’s Mr. Pookie, whose real name is Bryan Jones, blew up in 1999 thanks to his debut independent album, The Rippla. The rapper attended Berkner High School in Richardson before getting into the rap grind. Teaming up with K-Roc and a then-15-year-old Mr. Lucci, whose real name is Jeron Gibson, Mr. Pookie dropped the Dirty South classic “Crook For Life.” It’s still one of the catchiest piano-driven beats you’ll hear in hip-hop.

Young Nino & Hotboy Star’s “Oak Cliff That’s My Hood”

So much of Dallas’ best hip-hop has come from South Dallas, especially Oak Cliff. One of Dallas’ earliest rap groups, Nemesis, dropped a song about the neighborhood back in 1987. But Young Nino’s “Oak Cliff That’s My Hood” is one of D-FW’s grittiest. Young Nino and Hotboy Star weren’t really able to find any success beyond this song, but you can’t call yourself a Dallas rap fan unless you’re able to scream the NSFW words to this classic.

(note this video is NSFW)

Big Tuck's "Welcome to Dallas"

In the mid-2000s, there was a clear leader of the Dallas hip-hop scene: the Dirty South Rydaz. DSR was famous for its gritty, heavy-hitting bangers like Tum Tum’s “Caprice Music,” which made BET’s 106 & Park countdown. But DSR’s leader was clearly Big Tuck, a graduate of Lincoln High School. While “Southside Da Realist” is probably Tuck’s most famous song, Tuck gets even more explicit about his love for the city on “Welcome to Dallas.” After introducing “you to my side of town, Danger City,” Tuck goes on to use the JFK assassination as an example of how hard and gritty we are down in Dallas: “We so for real here, presidents get killed here / Street life bananas, and gorillas live here.”

(note this video is NSFW)

Lil’ Wil's “My Dougie”

Starting around 2007, Dallas hip-hop got less gritty and more dance-friendly -- a.k.a., the Dallas Boogie. Thanks to Arlington’s GS Boyz, dances like the “Stanky Legg” spread coast to coast. B-Hamp’s “Do the Ricky Bobby” also made waves. But Lil’ Wil’s “My Dougie” is arguably the best example of the D-Town Boogie. The incredibly catchy song -- and its viral dance move -- took over the country. Over the next few years, a young duo, Yung Nation, dominated the D-Town Boogie scene that Lil Wil arguably brought to life. The song inspired a hit from LA rap group Cali Swag District called “Teach Me How To Dougie.”

(note this video is NSFW)

Dorrough's "Ice Cream Paint Job"

Few Dallas rappers have achieved the level of national success Dorrough has. Thanks to his deal with the Dallas Cowboys, Dorrough is the only rapper whose merchandise is sold at an NFL team’s official store. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in the game like Diddy, Bun B, Slim Thug and Wiz Khalifa. This list wouldn’t be complete without including his 2009 hit “Ice Cream Paint Job,” which made him one of the select few local rappers who have gone platinum.

(note this video is NSFW)

A.Dd+'s “Where You Been?”

No other rappers have repped “Nutty Nawf Dallas” like Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy. Since their acclaimed 2011 debut mixtape, When Pigs Fly, hip-hop duo A.Dd+ (pronounced ay-dee-dee) dominated the DFW rap scene for years until breaking up in the beginning of 2016. The split didn’t just end their six years as a hip-hop duo; it ended their 13-year friendship as well. Months after the duo called it quits, their last project, Nawf America, finally dropped, giving fans one last masterpiece to enjoy. The duo was never shy about repping their hood. The “Nawf” is the area of Northeast Dallas that includes Lake Highlands. The cover art of their project Nawf, which dropped in 2014, shows the duo posted up in from of Big Mama’s Chicken and Waffles on the corner of Forest and Audelia right in the heart of the Nawf.

(note this video is NSFW)

ONE BONUS SONG: Chalie Boy's “I Look Good”

Chalie Boy isn’t from Dallas; he was born in a small town between Waco and College Station. But Chalie Boy’s 2009 hit “I Look Good” is one of the catchiest rap songs Texas has ever produced. He shouts on the hook, “On my mama! On my hood! I look fly! I look good!” His feel-good banger blew up largely thanks to Dallas radio stations 97.9 The Beat and K104, and made an undeniable impact on the Dallas scene and the national scene.

(note this video is NSFW)

What's Happening on GuideLive