The New Houston Collective* Picks Its Top Five Rappers

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*Ed. Note: "New Houston Collective" is (as far as we know) a term coined by our own Shea Serrano to refer to the current wave of Houston rappers who have little interest in syrup, candy paint, wood grain, etc.

Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday that isn't a national holiday, Rocks Off will have some of them here discussing issues relevant to their culture.

This Week's Panel: Iceberg Slim, Fat Tony, Dante Higgins, Show, hasHBrown, Young Sensation, H-Kane, Kyle Hubbard, FLOSS, etc.

Not Invited: The old guard. Actually, they were invited, but nobody bothered to respond.

This Week's Prompt: Cut and simple this week: Here's what everyone wants to know: Who are the five best rappers from the New Houston Collective?

Iceberg Slim*: I'mma go with Propain, Eskabel, Delo, Le$ and Yves (The Niceguys), with Jon Dope up next in 2011. I'm callin' it now.

* Slim is, in fact, not a rapper, but he knows his shit, so he gets included in this discussion when he feels compelled to participate.

Fat Tony: Fat Tony, B L A C K I E, A.D.D., Yves (The Niceguys). I also like iLL LiaD and Danny Wattz. They all got appeal and personality and versatile flows.

Dante Higgins: Top 5 Best New Rappers in Houston: Delo [is] twice on my list, Undergravity, O.N.E. and Propain.

Rocks Off: Delo is on your list twice?

DH: Delo took my spot on my list, so yeah, twice.

Show: Me, Beltway Krit, Killa Cal-Wayne, Yung Quis of ABN and Mug of SDS**. Those are my personal choices, i.e. who I listen to the most. Those artists rarely get acknowledged.

** Show's list is, without question, the most physically intimidating lineup that got offered up for this discussion.

hasHBrown: "Ain't no best" © Nas, but I will send you my faves in the city. My list that does include hasHBrown: hasHBrown, hasHBrown, hasHBrown, hasHBrown, hasHBrown. My list that doesn't include hasHBrown but still should: Dustin Prestige, Kritikal, Delo, F.L.O.S.S. [and] H.I.S.D.***

*** Listing H.I.S.D. is a bit of a cop-out. There are about 100 rappers in that group. It's like if someone asked you to name the best day in your entire life and you said, "Uh, I'll go with 2009."

Young Sensation: Mine is Yves (The Niceguys), Shostoppa, Show, Propain and Dough Breezy. No order.

H-Kane: Given the fact that I'm spearheading the movement, I refuse to say who's best. I want to keep the city inspired. I will say whose music I enjoy the most, if that will suffice. In no order: Le$, Yves (The Niceguys), O.N.E., Delo, Dante Higgins and Propain. Yes, it's six [laughs].

Kyle Hubbard: My choices are strictly made on personal taste and aren't in any order.

  • Jon Black: Hands down has the dopest voice.
  • Preemo has the best delivery; laid back but the impact doesn't suffer at all. It's extremely impressive to say the least.
  • Hollywood FLOSS: I would go as far as to say he has the most soul in his music. "When The World's Against You" [was the] best song last year.
  • hasHBrown: Makes the kind of music I grew up on and is a student to the game through and through. A beast on two levels.
  • Roosh Williams: The quiet storm. Hands down best flow, great flow and one of the finest lyricists I have ever heard. Roosh is primed to have an unprecedented year in 2011. I encourage everyone to keep eyes on Mr. Williams.

Brad Gilmore: Well, if 2011 turns out like 2005, [with] a handful of Houston MCs getting national exposure, and I had to pick five of them to say is Houston's New Collective, it would be as follows:

  • Fat Tony: Obi has been the biggest rapper in the local scene for three years now. He was the first person I heard about and the first person I met when I just started in the local scene. He has gained fans from all over Texas and has had influence in other states in the country. His lyricism, creativity, humble nature, and crazy work ethic would definitely push him to the top of the list of the next one to make it.
  • Hollywood FLOSS: If Tony was No. 1, FLOSS is a very close runner-up. In my opinion, Floss dropped the most classic Houston LP with House of Dreams. You can tell the name knows his hip-hop, and you can tell his songs are very wise and well thought-out. Not to mention aside from being a very talented MC, he's also a damn good producer.
  • Kyle Hubbard: Everyone in Houston has a pretty much completely different sound than what is looked at as "Houston hip-hop," but if anyone brings legitimate, raw, and very east coast sound to Houston, it's Kyle Hubbard. His outlook on what hip-hop is is pretty much how every MC should look at the game. He has an at times playful, but still 100 percent real subject matter to his songs, and has become one of the most talked about rappers in a very short time.
  • iLL LiaD: You can say you are, but no MC in Houston is as honest and as real as iLL. He puts his all behind everything he does, and he has all the elements of being an MC. He has dope lyrics, knows the culture, and he knows (more so than a lot of rappers) how to move the crowd during his live shows.
  • Smash Bro: I pick Smash Bro for two reasons. First, I feel as he can go bar for bar with anyone in Houston, and is probably the most underrated rapper. And second, because he's "fresher than the Fresh Prince breath mints."

Hollywood FLOSS:

  • Hollywood FLOSS: Was there any doubt!? Just kidding. From rap and rock, I just think I'm the most creative and consistent in the scene; balance of lyrics, anthems and substance (Xperiment series, House of Dreams, Art or Fi$cal Intelligence, and playing in a rock band). Then there's the production that I do.
  • hasHBrown: Holding it down as the resident Rapper/Producer/Promoter/Host, the dedication and triple threat combo is hard to ignore, especially since he does them equally well. He attacks the mic like J Cole, but can make you reflect on life just as well
  • Delo: Vivid imagery and storytelling skills are almost unmatched. When he gets into the pocket of the beat his flow is amazing
  • Fat Tony: Sheer dominance at the HP awards, hardworking, solid performer; most relatable content and great flow
  • John Dew: I don't think people realize how dominate he would be if he was signed to a major mainstream label right now. Pound for pound, him and Kirko Bangz have the most chance at the mainstream crowd and enjoying it. John Dew can put together a hit song in mere minutes. Underrated lyricist.

Honorable Mention:

Thurogood: The punch lines are his forte and solid Judd Apatow content put in rap form.

Yves respectfully might [have] the best wordplay in New Houston. A mix of sounding like Jim Jones voice and Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt flow. Lyrics are hard to ignore and [he] cuts through any track commanding attention.

Nosaprise: This is really like a Top 4 list cause I'm sure most MCs are gonna put themselves on there. So, humbly, I put myself on there of course. Perseph1, I think she's one of the most progressive MCs in the H. She needs to drop more music.

Yves from The Niceguys has good word play and The Show is dope. [Fat] Tony cause he's a Hustler. I think D-Rail's dope but I'm not sure he's in the H still. I think FLOSS has grown so much over the past couple years. Dude works hard too, and I enjoyed House of Dreams.

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