For years, the conventional wisdom was that when it came to hip-hop, Houston had the Lone Star State on lockdown.
And while our neighbor to the south still has a heavyweight reputation (Paul Wall, Devin the Dude and Bun B, to name just a few, still call H-Town home), North Texas has gained plenty of ground, turning out an impressive roster of acclaimed rappers, including Big Tuck, Dorrough and Grammy winners Play-N-Skillz, among others.
But hip-hop thrives on young talent, forever prying loose diamonds in the rough from the streets of Dallas or Fort Worth. Here are five rising stars to keep an eye -- and an ear -- on.
Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy left a considerable mark upon me after seeing their short set at this year's South by Southwest. Trading lines with a deceptive ease but maintaining relentless forward momentum, A.Dd+ continues to play regularly in support of last year's dual effort, the pair's debut full-length When Pigs Fly (which was singled out by national publications like XXL and Pitchfork) and its B-sides follow-up, Loosies. Once you've seen 'em unleashed live, you'll hardly be able to wait to see them perform again. They play Bryan Street Tavern in Dallas on Friday , Dan's Silverleaf in Denton on Aug. 23 and the House of Blues in Dallas on Aug. 24. addplus.bandcamp.com; facebook.com/divehiflylo; twitter.com/ADdplus
Dru B Shinin'
Born Andrew McCullough, Korean-American rapper/producer Dru B Shinin' is a fixture at Fort Worth hip-hop nights (often at the Cellar or the Grotto). He's a tireless advocate of the local scene, never mind his prowess as a performer. Working from SMG Sound Studio in the Stockyards alongside collaborators like EyeJay the Boy and Greg Shark, Dru keeps a steady stream of fresh material flowing onto YouTube and his Bandcamp page. Dru B Shinin's most recent release, Spilt Paint II, rounds up odds-and-sods from the sessions that spawned his new LP, All-American. Laid-back and savvy with his samples, Dru B Shinin' proffers mellow brilliance. drubshinin.bandcamp.com; facebook.com/drubshinin; twitter.com/drubshinin
The sun was beating down upon the handful of people scattered about Main Street Garden in Dallas earlier this year during the Homegrown Music Festival, but for Dave Morgan and Devan-Bernard Calvin, they might as well have been headlining the final night of Coachella. Pacing the stage and flinging rhymes with a speed belying their relative youth, the Mohicans were nothing short of stunning. The pair brings a ferocious intensity to their dizzying wordplay that forces listeners to hang on for dear life, loving every minute. Revel in their no-nonsense style on last year's LP Uncas. themohicans.com; themohicans.bandcamp.com, facebook.com/themohicans
Brain Gang Blue
Yet again, a rap act that knocked me sideways live. The scene was Hailey's, late in the day on the second night of 35 Denton. Out of nowhere, a knot of people formed at the foot of the stage, egged on by a rhyme that showed no signs of slowing, even as an impromptu mosh pit erupted. This spontaneous demonstration of physicality was courtesy of the BrainGang collective (Blue, Killa MC, Cash'Mir, Bobby Sessions, JT, X'Zavier and Ish), whose work is varied and almost always absorbing. With production ties to rising national stars like Kendrick Lamar, it's merely a matter of time before BrainGang explodes beyond our borders. braingangblue.bandcamp.com; braingangblue.tumblr.com; facebook.com/braingangblue
Just as the aforementioned Play-N-Skillz are garnering industry accolades outside of Dallas, so, too, is Grammy-winning producer Symbolyc One (aka Waco native Larry Griffin Jr.). He cut his teeth producing Strange Fruit Project, but it wasn't long before he found himself at the console next to a who's who of rap: Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rhymefest and Ghostface Killah have all enlisted his services, and he has won awards for his work with West and some R&B singer named Beyoncé. symbolycone.com; twitter.com/symbolycone Preston Jones