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What Are The Best Houston Rap Songs So Far This Year?

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: Bun B, Propain, Devi Dev (97.9 The Box), Brad Gilmore, D-Risha, Delo, hasHBrown, Tawn-P, DJ Don, Brandon Caldwell, Fat Tony, KAB Tha Don, Doughbeezy, Kyle Hubbard, A.D.D.

Not Invited: 2009

This Week's Prompt: Following the publication of the first Underground Houston Rap Awards column, we received a fair amount of email. Most of it was cordial, and some of it was awful. The one question that came up more than any other, though: Which has been the best rap song a Houston undergrounder has released this year?

We're going to open it up some and include the bigger-name guys as well. Let's make two categories, then: Best Underground Houston Rap Song of 2011* and Best Mainstream Houston Rap Song of 2011. So, which two get the nod and why?

*We had to be liberal in the interpretation of the date 2011. Several records made in 2010 that didn't get major recognition until 2011. For example, Kirko Bangz's "What Yo Name Iz" was listed here. It came out in 2010, but most are going to recognize it as a 2011 record, so it sneaks in.

Propain: All of 'em but mine.

Devi Dev: I really like "She Like Me" by Mookie Jones, and I think "So High" by Slim Thug is a great mainstream record.

Bun B: Not trying to be funny, but what defines mainstream?

Rap Round Table: Good Point. For this circumstance, let's say that if it's been played on The Box more than twice, it's mainstream.

Bun B: Then mainstream is "These Days" by Z-Ro and underground is "Getting Paid" by Trae and Wiz Khalifa.

Brad Gilmore: Hmm, well let me start with the underground artists. As far as the absolute best song from the New Houston Collective, I have to narrow it down to three:

hasHBrown, "Degree of Difficulty" (from Relationsh*t)

I choose this song for a few reasons. When you are single and you just broke it off with your "sigot" (significant other), and this song comes on your shuffle, as it did mine, there is not a more perfect song to listen to. This first line in the song is, "You want a girl when you want a girl, but when you don't want a girl you want a girl that understands that."

It's a really great song to start off your day. Even with all that aside, the song itself is a Houston classic. Jett I [Masstyr] on the beat, with the help of his alter ego hasHBrown, alongside Thurogood Wordsmith and Dustin Prestige, it just makes for a good hip hop song.

Fat Tony, "Luv It Mayne" (from RABDARGAB)

This is the song that sticks out to me the most from Tony's debut. It's has a real head-banging beat, an over infectious G'd out chorus, and some of the dopest lyrics I've heard Tony spit. With the help of Murs and Bo. P, Tony really encapsulated his energy, swag, pimpness and Texas roots all in one record.

Twenty Eleven, "Renewable Energy" (from Renewable Energy)

This is the best underground song released within the last few months. I know this is my own band, but this song really illustrates our career thus far, and even though we have been told countless times we couldn't do it, because we were too young or because we were all different races and that no one would understand our sound, we knew one thing: that tomorrow was a brand new day and we wouldn't let anything stop us. And to put it in the words of Chris Brown: look at us now!

As for the mainstream, Bun B, Kirko Bangz, and Marcus Manchild have all been repping Houston to the fullest, but I'll give it to "Get Off Me" by Manchild.

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Shea Serrano