Low Points Dominate the Decade for Houston's Latino Rappers

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Sunday, Rocks Off crept down Little York on the "Nawf" side of H-Town to scope out Northside rider Big Cease's video production of "So Off the Chain," featuring Dat Boy X of Dallas and Houston's Lucky Luciano (above).

Sure enough, Houston's underground scene was in full effect to provide support - and, of course, to get their cameo on. Dat Boi T, Bunz, Trails, GT Garza and Stunta were all there showing love to the camera.

As the decade winds down, it was a good opportunity to huddle with this close fraternity of underground rap artists to take a trip down memory lane. One thing for certain is that there were more valleys than peaks for Latino rap in Houston, with some damn unfortunate themes: incarceration, death and murder. There were some bright sides, but unfortunately, regardless of what ethnic lens you look through, Houston hip-hop in the 2000s will be defined by loss of life and talent.

We saved the worst for first...

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November 16, 2000: The godfather of rap in Houston, Robert Earl Davis, better known as DJ Screw, passes away of respiratory failure due to the lethal combination of codeine cough syrup and alcohol. His death would inspire artists across Texas from the household name down to the MySpace rapper to carry his legacy on every track.

DJ Screw's music and culture would leak into Houston's Latino urban communities across the city and spur a new movement of brown artists carrying the Screw heritage into the hearts and souls of Latino youth and inspiring a new hybrid of Hispanic youth who emulate the Black urban influence of the Dirty South.

South Park Misery...

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May 18, 2002: Carlos Coy, a.k.a. South Park Mexican, is convicted by a Houston jury of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Coy was sentenced to 45 years in prison, grounding a never-before-seen rise by a Texas Latino rapper. At the time, Coy was breaking into the mainstream with a burgeoning Latino youth market in heavily Hispanic markets across the country. South Park Mexican is now the DJ Screw of the Latino rap scene, as he's viewed by the Latino rap underground as anything from a martyr of the white judicial establishment to a victim of a conspiracy theory devised by his victims.

Going into 2010, Latino rap artists carry a "Free SPM" flag in rap videos, mix tapes and apparel and it'll grow stronger as their movement does. The loss of SPM, though, has sent the Latino rap movement into a major recovery mode.

Jaime "Pain" Ortiz, who is Dope House Records' chief engineer and producer, tells Rocks Off, "Unfortunately, our industry wasn't healthy enough to take the hit. We weren't saturated in the industry yet. We had lots of street credit, but we didn't have people making big strides in the corporate arena."


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