Is ‘Dirty South’ Rap Outdated for the Mainstream Audience?

To ring in the 2017 Christmas season, a few Austin natives put together the Trill Azz XMAS Party held at Empire Control Room, celebrating Houston rappers & infamous DJ’s of the 281 area. TAX featured Kirko Bangz, Killa Kyleon, DJ Michael Watts and DJ Grip, who all have made a name for themselves in music by promoting artists toward national attention, to being named a top lyricist from the Dirty South.

This show was definitely one of my first to experience the backend of production from hanging out in the green room, to witnessing technical (and personal) issues regarding performances, and I loved every minute of the event. It was strange to be in the same room with music industry personalities that I’ve long respected, but I finally felt like I was where I belonged (Merry Xmas to me right?).

As the opening acts performed, a group of us sat in the Green Room with DJ Michael 5000 Watts, a heavily respected and infamous radio host who has helped pushed countless artists out of Texas like Mike Jones and Paul Wall, into national attention, when the conversation about Houston lyricists not receiving their past-due credit came about. Sure there are several artists out of HTX such as Beyonce and Travis Scott who have built their empires, but what about the rappers who have been grindin’ for decades and may be nothing more than a one hit wonder?

The Dirty South as a style of hip hop isn’t as popular as let’s say mumble rap is, instead it’s an acquired sound that most kids in cities like Cleveland may not ever come across unless they are doing their research. Perhaps that’s why the “Dirty South” is still suck in Southern states, because promoting said artists just isn’t happening from the major labels, or maybe it’s because “Dirty South” rappers are a generation that is disconnected from the current trends.

Rappers that classify themselves as “Dirty South” such as Big K.R.I.T., Young Jeezy, Slim Thug, etc. have all been in the rap game since the new millennium and are well, older dudes who still rap. Interestingly though, we usually don’t hear someone classifying Slim Thug as an OG of hip hop – almost as if from 2001-2013 when most Dirty South rappers emerged, is a forgotten time period. Because let’s face it, would you ever catch Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’” as a point of influence for a rapper today? Probably not.

Now, thinking back to the Trill Azz XMAS Party and the audience that partied hard through the young emcees and their trap-inspired beats, the crowd dipped heavily as the “star” of the show Kirko Bangz ultimately refused to perform. Following his allotted set, Killa Kyleon closed the show out, leaving only fans of the artist himself.

All in all, the original crowd didn’t even get a true taste of what OG’s from the South perform like; as Killa’s set was cut in half and he was forced off stage by venue staff at 2AM to close the bar.

Ultimately though, as a hip hop community we must give respect to a city who has fought so long to be respected nationally for their authentic sound, and drive for quality content. Houston, TX is a driving city for the “Dirty South” rap style, however they have a long way to go in producing another Travis Scott or Ugly God.

(Photo Courtesy: Sara Loretta)

Writer & Visual Storyteller | I think mumble rap is like disco, a bad phase.

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