The monolithic ideology of 2005 has been replaced with a scattershot of styles and sounds. Here's a sampling of 2011's cast, each with their own sound and/or design:
• The Boss Hogg Outlawz — Slim Thug's camp of gorillas highlighted by Mug, a snarling gangster rapper, and L.E.$., a postmodern gangster rapper with a warm apricot flow, and J-Dawg, the burliest of the bunch — have quietly been the sturdiest rap group in the Southern United States.
• Propain combines overt anger and passion with a semi-slurred, narrow-mouthed, hurried flow that he occasionally drags out for a metallic effect. He scored radio time earlier this year with his agro-positive "Say I Won't," and proved himself entirely capable on his last mixtape, #Departure.
• UZOY, Just Brittany, Candi Redd, Surreall, TroubleSum and Tawn-P make up the bulk of the most impressive class of female rappers Houston has ever seen.
• Rap-A-Lot's Fame Sity is an entirely convincing gangster rapper, and their potential breakout act.
• The velvet smooth Preemo and gargantuan GT Garza head a substantial division of Latino rappers that grow harder to ignore every day (which seems to be precisely what everyone is trying to do to them).
• Marcus Manchild, who recently toured nationally with Method Man and Big K.R.I.T., is the antithesis of the Houston stereotype. He is at his most devastating when he opts to go up-tempo, rapping much the same way Usain Bolt runs the 100-meter dash (i.e., like a fucking madman).
• MC Beezy, Sherro, DJ Chose and Mr. Wired Up (Oh Boy) all create new era dance rap, a subsidiary branch of rap music that's never been fully vetted in Houston, not even in its most traditional form.
• Delo is a fascinating songwriter and arguably one of the most innately skilled rappers in the city. His voice is broad and brawny, flexed strongest over heavy drums or soul samples. He sounds like what a B.B. King's face feels like.
• Fat Tony, obliquely weird and possibly genius, has all but secured a place setting as underground Texas royalty, name-checked by indie favorites Das Racist and the aforementioned A$AP Rocky. He has no historical analog in Houston.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
• B L A C K I E, a lightning storm of liberty and justice, is the state's premiere noise rap act. (If B L A C K I E has one, it's likely rooted in punk rock.)
• Hollywood Floss has H Brown, John Dew and Dustin Prestige, curators of underground talent for the last three years, are art rappers that are always at their most engaging in front of a crowd.
• The Niceguys — two producers, one DJ, one rapper — added themselves to the list of elites last year with their bold, booming LP The Show. Yves, the group's excessively confident rapper, is mesmerizingly ostentatious, and has blended into his New York heritage (raised there) with his Southern surroundings remarkably well.
• Doughbeezy, who is actively traditional in his music, rose from the dust this year to become one of the city's most mentioned names. He, along with KAB tha Don and the anachronistic rap group Undergravity, champions the S.U.C.-era sound the most diligently.