Everything You Needed to Know About Houston Rap In 2013

Photo by Marco Torres
Bun B, aka "Maestro," with the Houston Symphony last November
Our year-end Houston rap recap (this right here -- oh hi!) is always an exercise in economical efficiency. The amount of words that can fit in this space is about 1/15th of the total amount of local rap artists, so capturing all of the neat things they did in 2013 is basically like winning the lottery or walking through Cuney Homes and not getting stabbed to death.

But here's the mega-rundown, featuring a fair share of the city's talents:

Bun B, the archbishop of Houston rap, continued his supreme flex. He started a food Web site; co-authored a rap coloring book with a small, very attractive Mexican man (aka yours truly); released an album, Trill OG: The Epilogue; served as a university professor; became the first-ever rapper to perform with the Houston Symphony; karate-punched the Loch Ness monster; and made 85 percent of his free throws.

In the most surprisingly endearing hustle of the year, Slim Thug, who is almost certainly a millionaire, took to selling shirts and his new CD, Boss Life, out of the trunk of a Bentley. Nobody understands anything more profoundly than Slim Thug understands how to make himself likeable.

REWIND: The 25 Best Houston Rap Projects of 2013, Nos. 25-21

Trae Tha Truth released I Am King, his first proper tape in almost two years, and it sounded every bit as if he'd spent all of that time working on it. Highlights included "Stay Trill (Bill Collector)," a charming redub of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's 1995 track "Mr. Bill Collector" featuring Krayzie Bone himself; "Hold Up," a song featuring Diddy, Young Jeezy and T.I. that feels like all of your bones are being swapped out for lightning bolts; and "Old School," a swirling near-nursery rhyme that floats along a few inches off the ground.

Mike Jones(!) began floating his name out there again (albeit from a different city, but still). Paul Wall released #checkseason, a drippy grip of songs including the chunky "Getting Tho'd." And even Chamillionaire lobbed a few songs out into the open from his bunker, of which the best was "H-Town Legend."

REWIND: The 25 Best Houston Rap Projects of 2013, Nos. 20-16

Almost secretly, Devin the Dude released the very enjoyable One For the Road, and was his affable, gooey self on it. Not too many humans are more tuned into the cosmos than the ageless Devin.

Kirko Bangz auto-crooned his way onto XXL's hallowed Freshman Class cover and into the uteri of an infinite number of women. Willie D, Scarface and Bushwick Bill managed to complete a Geto Boys reunion show or two (truly remarkable, really). And Z-Ro cruised around the fringes of fame, z-roing better than all those who tried to z-ro.

Roosh Williams began asserting his would-be dominance over the underground, releasing the tapes déjà Roo: Times Have Changed, and Drobots: The Reboot. His best moments: déjà Roo's "Introduction," basically a blunderbuss shot to the sternum, and a surprisingly enchanting video in which he walks around a mall rapping an OutKast verse to himself.

REWIND: The 25 Best Houston Rap Projects of 2013, Nos. 15-11

Propain crystallized his spot among the city's elite unsigned rappers with Ridin' Slab, an ultra-intense tape that, in its most motivated bits, felt less like a tape and more like a therapy session. His greatest skill is that he seems to emote exponentially, so it seems silly to think that he'll do anything other than continue to hone it, which means it seems silly to think that he's anything less than a few paces away from stardom.

Story continues on the next page.

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