Texas rap has played no small part in hip-hop's history. More specifically, Houston (and of course P.A.) rap has played no small part in hip-hop's history. (There are other cities in Texas, I hear, though with the exception of Dallas's brief swag-based blip, they've, to this point, remained largely invisible on a national scale.)
There's been The Geto Boys, Rap-a-Lot, UGK, the 2005 boom, the titans that preceded the 2005 boom, etc. Finding albums to rate the best has never been a problem. Actually rating them though, that's something completely separate.
However, after about 1 million hours of arguing and about 2 million emails, this is it: These are the ten greatest Texas rap albums that ever existed.
10. Z-Ro, Let the Truth Be Told (2005) Z-Ro's life seems like it was written by Shakespeare. This album seems like it was written by Zeus. Even trade, I suppose.
9. DJ Screw, 3 'N The Mornin' (1995) Do you really need an explanation for why a DJ Screw album is important? Do you even have ears?
8. E.S.G., Ocean of Funk (1994) Ocean of Funk was actually the very first album to prominently feature a Screwed song. Yet another reason to argue the perpetual underappreciation of E.S.G.
7. Lil Keke, Don't Mess Wit Texas (1997) Lil Keke is the mouthy, mouthy king of synonyms, and maybe the most sampled-from artist in Texas. (His voice was crafted to be slowed down.) Don't Mess Wit Texas's overall greatness has always been usurped by the unbeatable hit "Southside."
6. Devin the Dude, Just Tryin' Ta Live (2002) Genius described as aw-shucks, Devin slips into the Top 10 as nonchalantly and effortlessly as he exists in the universe. No rapper has ever slinked around the cosmos with more unhurried grace.
5. Willie D, Controversy (1989) The template for the hard-dragging, confrontational rap albums that followed.
4. Fat Pat, Ghetto Dreams (1998) The legend that never was: Fat Pat delivered Ghetto Dreams posthumously, teasing at what promised to be a gargantuan rap career. He is a deity in Houston, and that's great, but his reach absolutely should've extended past Beltway 8.
3. Scarface, The Diary (1994) The greatest album from the Geto Boys' greatest talent. The Fix might be prettier and more star-studded, but that's precisely why this one wins out.
2. Geto Boys, We Can't Be Stopped (1991) The first legitimate success of the Rap-a-Lot era, We Can't Be Stopped eventually aged to become the what many consider to be the most important album in Southern rap's history.
1. UGK, Ridin' Dirty (1996) Of course the hyperultimate Texas rap group gives us the hyperultimate album. Everything about it is gloriously glorious. It sounds as trenchant and important as it did in 1996 (and maybe even moreso).
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.