Screwston, Texas

#HTownRapBattle Engages City's Finest MCs in Bar-to-Bar Combat

Doughbeezy says he created the Houston rap battle hashtag to showcase the city.
Doughbeezy says he created the Houston rap battle hashtag to showcase the city. Photo courtesy of Doughbeezy
Social-media challenges are a dime a dozen. But every now and then one comes along that gets everyone involved. A couple of these hashtag challenges just passed through the timelines of Houston hip-hop fans and reminded us just how much talent resides in the Bayou City.

Over the weekend, a flurry of raps were shared on Instagram through the #HtownRapBattle hash. Verses came in from the city’s most elite rappers — Slim Thug, Propain, Lil Keke and Bun B, to name a couple — to the most unsigned up-and-comers out there.

The battle came on the heels of last week’s #Htownbeatbattle challenge, which saw BeatKing throw down against DJ XO and D-Bando —- which is still going on.

To capitalize on the attention the city was getting on social media, Doughbeezy jumped into the mix and created an #HTownRapBattle Instagram account to collect and share the best verses on the hashtag, which is pushing 2,000 posts as of this writing. The beauty of the hashtag and accompanying account is that you can swipe your way through verse after verse and get a real sense of what the city has to offer.

“About five years ago, we were all trying to find out what we need to do to get on TV, but now we have the TV on and we’re on our phones, we’re at dinner and we’re on our phones. That’s where we need to be trying to drive our content,” Doughbeezy says.

His little social-media thought experiment caught the wind of radio and music-TV stations. The goal, he says, was unity for the city and support of the local rap scene from a grassroots level.

Doughbeezy admitted there was some negativity that got sprinkled into the mix with the original beat battle, but he was looking to avoid anything other than love and support for rappers who participated in the rap battle.

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While it wasn’t a pure battle in the sense of trying to take out other rappers, the #HtownRapBattle was just an aggressive call for all the rappers in the region to bring their best bars.

“I just want to bring the awareness and say, hey, look what these guys over here are doing,” Doughbeezy says.

With some rappers posting multiple raps to the hashtag over the past few days, it’s clear the Instagram rap battle struck a chord. But for now, as legendary rapper Mike D. Corleone suggested in a video he posted before spitting his first verse, how will the Houston rappers capitalize off this push toward support and unity?

The question is, how will raps given away for free turn into “show money”?
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Camilo Hannibal Smith started writing for the Houston Press in 2014. A former copy editor, he was inspired to focus on writing about pop culture and entertainment after a colleague wrote a story about Paul Wall's grills. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Source magazine.