Screwston, Texas

10 Possible Houston Rap Tourism Destinations

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6. Johnny Dang & Co. 253 Sharpstown Center When it comes to cramming as many diamonds into your mouth as physically possibly, there's only one name that matters: "TV Johnny" Dang. Dang and his business partner, Paul Wall, put Houston on the hip-hop jewelry map (yes, there's a jewelry map) by crafting expensive bridgework for everybody from Lil' Jon to Katy Perry. Whether you'd like to purchase a diamond-encrusted Styrofoam cup pendant or simply gawk at one, swing by his store at PlazAmericas Mall and check out some of the most bonkers, blinged-out custom creations on the planet.

5. Dope House Records 2122 Center St. Unless you see Dope House Records with your own eyes, it's a little hard to believe it could exist. An independent record label founded by a Latino street hustler to self-release his own raps that grew to sell millions of albums with no radio to an army of loyal fans across the Southwest? In the middle of Houston, Texas? Yep, that happened. Carlos Coy, the one and only South Park Mexican, built his own rap empire by providing a voice for young Mexican-Americans from the ghetto. In 2001, the Houston Press named him Local Musician of the Year.

To put it mildly, Dope House hasn't been the same since SPM was convicted on child sex charges in 2002. But it's still around, and it's still putting out SPM records bought by the fans who still support him. The place remains a powerful testament that one Latino artist with something different to say can build a legacy so big that not even long-term incarceration can tear it down completely.

4. King's Flea Market 5110 Griggs Rd. In 1991, Chad Butler and Bernard Freeman had moved from their hometown of Port Arthur to Houston, trying to turn their hip-hop hobby into a money-making proposition. It was at King's Flea Market in South Park where they got the break they were looking for. After spotting a poster in a record stall soliciting rappers, the duo met Russell Washington, the owner of Big Tyme Recordz.

Washington fell in love with a song on the pair's demo tape: "Tell Me Something Good," a gangsta twist on the old Chaka Khan hit. He signed them on the spot, and Bun B and Pimp C put together a six-track cassette of the tunes that would soon make them Underground Kingz.

Rappers are still passing out demos there today. One of 'em could be the next Sweet Jones! Plus, King's is a pretty dope flea market. Get yourself a new hat or something.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith