Houston Hip-Hop

Mike Watts and his stable of northside rappers take a southside legend's style to the masses

But I don't really care what you heard,'

cause you don't know about the Dirty Third."

Paul Wall had emerged as the great translator of the subculture that brewed in Houston for more than a decade -- and he was about as close to an Eminem (that is, a white guy fully accepted within the culture) that the South has created. The People's Champ was his classic treatise of how they do things in his hometown -- an invaluable road map to a place that thrived for years before anyone on the outside knew about it. But, ultimately, road maps don't make for great literature. For all its local color, Wall's record didn't so much paint a portrait of his world as it just rattled off the signifiers, as if that was enough. The People's Champ made Houston hip-hop sound like one big gimmick, when the record should have been a natural extension of the homegrown culture.

Mike Watts and his stable of northside rappers take a southside legend's style to the masses
SLFEMP
Mike Watts and his stable of northside rappers take a southside legend's style to the masses
DJ Screw's taped concoction oozed out of the southside and redefined Texas rap.
Deron Neblett
DJ Screw's taped concoction oozed out of the southside and redefined Texas rap.

(Editor's note: Paul Wall has a chance to remedy that criticism when his next album, Get Money Stay True, comes out on April 3. All of the other rappers profiled in this story have albums due in the next few weeks. Chamillionaire's Ultimate Victory is due out March 27, Slim Thug's Boss of All Bosses is due April 27 and Mike Jones's The American Dream is due May 8.)

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