10. Corner of MLK and Bellfort It was on this corner, all the way back in 1987, that arguably the city's first, best and most influential rap collective was born. In the neighborhood of South Park, rival teenage rap crews from Jones and Sterling High Schools were drawing up battle lines. After a few light battle-rapping skirmishes, the two best rappers in the 'hood set a date to square off for once and for all.
In a parking lot on this neutral ground between the two schools, Sterling High champion K-Rino went verse after verse and rhyme after rhyme with Jones champ Ganksta NIP. After a lengthy battle, gathered onlookers unbelievably declared the epic confrontation a draw. K-Rino and Ganksta NIP happened to catch the same bus home that afternoon, striking up a fast friendship and uniting their respective crews into the mighty South Park Coalition, which remains active (and awesome) to this day.
9. Paradise South Cemetery 16001 Cullen, Pearland If you're going to be in town, you'll no doubt want to pay a few respects. Swang on over to Paradise South Cemetery in Pearland to peacefully contemplate the musical immortality achieved by Patrick and John Hawkins, better known as Fat Pat and H.A.W.K.
"Paradise South" is just about the best name possible for their final resting place. Both brothers died young; the victims of gun violence eight years apart. But they loved their hometown, and they left behind a rich musical legacy as members of the group DEA and as top-ranking officers in the Original Screwed Up Click, helping to shape a new, uniquely Texan sound in Southern hip-hop. They started a momentum that a generation of Houston rappers who grew up idolizing them would ride to national prominence.
8. Rap-A-Lot Records 2141 W Governors Cir. It's hardly uncommon to hear a local rapper complain about the way Rap-A-Lot Records pays its talent. But if it weren't for Rap-A-Lot, there's a strong possibility we'd never have heard them at all. Founded by hip-hop mogul/mafioso James Prince in 1986, Rap-A-Lot quickly became one of the earliest and most successful independent rap labels in the world, helping to introduce fans near and far to the likes of the Geto Boys, Raheem, Big Mello, the Terrorists and many more over the next 25 years. The label remains a shining example of hip-hop DIY entrepreneurship, and it's still putting out music by big-timers including Bun B, Z-Ro, Juvenile and Turk.
7. Lil Ike's Auto Collision 7110 Avenue C If you want to see an entire bar full of people in Houston sing along together, put some money in the Internet jukebox and call up Lil' Troy's "Wanna Be a Baller." The best part is watching them mumble through the lyric "got sprayed by Ike." While I've heard people claim Big T is crooning everything from "gotta spray my ice" to "God is great tonight" on the hook, he's actually referencing Lil Ike's Auto Collision, a popular paint shop near the Port of Houston that helped create the candy-colored panoply of dripping-wet SLABs characterizing the city's hip-hop car culture.
Ike's does good work, and it ain't cheap. The shop has been name-checked on countless Houston rap records large and small. Head over and see why it's the go-to spot for pimped-out paint jobs inside the Loop.
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