Best Rapper 2023 | BigXThaPlug | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Andrew Sherman

Whenever a hip-hop-loving Dallasite is asked who the best rapper in DFW is right now, BigXThaPlug is the 9-out-of-10 immediate response because of his unified, organic support from the music industry, radio stations, peers and, most importantly, fans. This year has been one of milestones for the larger-than-life star, with opening tour spots for rap superstars Key Glock and Kevin Gates. The runaway success of Plug's No. 1 debut album, AMAR, spawned an appearance on the Fast X soundtrack, a sold-out nationwide tour and a shared appearance alongside the rap icon Eminem as BigX walked out DFW boxing star Errol Spence Jr. in the fight of the decade. It all happened in front of a sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and 650,000 pay-per-view fans worldwide.

Kate Russell

Texas welcomed the freewheeling Meow Wolf's latest permanent exhibition when it opened earlier this summer. But the 30,000-square-foot walk-through attraction in Grapevine Mills wasn't merely wanted around these parts — it was needed. Meow Wolf brings viewers into an alternate reality via a two-story brick replica of a family home constructed in a former Bed, Bath & Beyond in Grapevine. It tells the story of a disappearing family, offering clues among the art and hidden in nooks and crannies. It's the perfect place to keep the littles occupied when it's hot outside and an inspirational example of what ambitious creatives can do when they put their minds to it. And it's the perfect place for arty Gen Zers to feel seen and appreciated, just as they are.

Let's face it: White dudes have had more of their fair share of artistic accolades and gallery shows, which is why the programming at Daisha Board Gallery is so refreshing. Board, a self-made art expert, got the idea to create her own space showing BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and artists with disabilities after her daughter Savannah asked why there weren't images of people like her in the museums and galleries they frequented. This led to the founding of Black Sheep Art Culture and Board's eponymous space, which opened in November 2021. Board added to her artistic mission by opening a second space next to the Joule during art week, giving her more room to show energetic, inspiring work.

Steven Visneau

Although most museums embody a "look, don't touch" philosophy, the Nasher bends that rule (just a little) for shows like Steel Like Paper by Mark DiSuvero, which included a hug-like sling called "Swing" that begs kids of all ages to climb on in. Add to that a sculpture garden that invites hide-and-seek style exploration and the institution's annual kid-friendly "The Great Create" event, and you have a perfect mix of elements to inspire the next generation of artists.

This category is crowded with movie theaters debuting La-Z-Boy-esque chairs by the hundreds to bring a touch of luxury to their theaters. But Inwood Theatre has always known what's up. The setup here dares to ask what happens if movie theater seats were sort of a bunch of beds with some pillows — and some bean bags, too, of course. If you are still searching for a theater to set forth on your Barb-enheimer marathon, look no further.

Best Community Theater for a Cozy, Intimate Show

The Firehouse Theatre

A fire station is probably not your first choice of a destination for a night out. It might even be the last place you would like your night to end. But The Firehouse Theatre is the perfect place to see a live theater if you're craving art but your eyes are growing weary from endless at-home streaming. Tucked inside a historic 1958 fire station facade, the intimate theater puts on beloved theater classics and some off-the-beaten-path gems. Blankets are offered for all to enjoy. Its 2023 season includes Newsies, The Addams Family, Finding Nemo Jr., and Miracle on 34th Street.

Carter Rose

An outdoor performing arts venue next door to Woodall Rodgers Freeway? It's a tough sell, but it works. Watch a jazz tribute band while the sunset lights the skyline or a new alternative rock band with your toes in the grass, reclining in a lawn chair you probably haven't used since watching a T-ball game. If you can't see a show, the space is also open to the public while private events aren't happening, and the ambiance is just as great.

Burned out? Or just art thirsty? There's no better way to unplug, drift away and recharge your creative batteries than DAMN. Started in 2015 by musician Cody McPhail, DAMN's performances set experimental sounds to abstracted visuals with mind-expanding results. Offering local artists sculpting kaleidoscopic visuals on panoramic screens, each entry is a journey through innerspace that's like communing with the numinous. Having brought heavy-hitters such as New Age legend Laraaji and composer Steve Hauschildt of Emeralds fame to our city, DAMN provides an immersive musical experience like nothing else in Dallas.

Barak Epstein

Showcasing the types of gorey, grungy cinema that went straight to grindhouse theaters in the '80s and direct to VHS in the '90s, Texas Theatre's TNT series is a blast. These free screenings happen on the first Tuesday of each month and frequently include local horror-themed vendors and boozy after-parties in the Texas Theatre's lounge. If you like violent slashers, creature features, cheap special FX or just lo-fi, unintentionally funny flix, TNT is up your alley and then some. Sit back, melt into your seat and let the refreshing trash wash over you.

Courtesy of Big Chicken

OK, we admit that it took us far too long to realize that Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal, NBA titan-turned-actor extraordinaire, lives in Carrollton. But boy are we glad. The inimitable celeb is now bringing his love for bass-heavy music to North Texas audiences via his much-buzzed-about namesake music festival. This September, Shaq's Bass All-Stars boasted top-tier acts such as Alison Wonderland, DJ Diesel (Shaq's music persona), Kai Wachi, Sullivan King and Crankdat. Next time you see Shaq, be sure to tell him that we're grateful he's bringing such baller bass gods to Texas.

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