North Texas has an abundance of talented musicians, but sometimes the bookers of DFW get hung up on old favorites and forget to try someone new. The acts on this list are underrated in some way, whether that means they haven't received much attention in the local press or they're not getting big festival gigs. Some of these acts have been stuck playing second fiddle to friends and collaborators. We're here to shed some light on the underappreciated talents who deserve a closer look.
Rio Pourcel’s absurdly deep catalog deserves a spotlight. The Dallas resident has only done one interview, in 2015 with SayCheeseTV. Beyond confirming that he lives in Dallas, Pourcel didn't say much else. The mysterious R&B artist has never done any live performances and is a general recluse. Nonetheless, he’s found a large following, and he regularly puts out new music. He doesn’t have any formal albums or EPs, but in the last two years, he’s released batches of songs on his Soundcloud every few months.
In April, a management company released that collection of songs on Apple Music, so let's hope that means he'll come out to play a show or two sometime soon.
Many rappers from South Dallas don't get their dues in the Deep Ellum circles of local hip-hop. In Oak Cliff, though, Yella Beezy’s name rings bells, and his 2016 track “Trap In Designer” is an anthem that’s gaining notoriety. The video is climbing toward a million views. When big artists tour through Dallas, it's common for their DJs to play it. Plenty of Beezy’s tracks follow the modern trap formula that has made stars out of YFN Lucci, Young Dolph and others, but Beezy’s catalog extends beyond trap anthems with tracks like “Broke Nights Rich Days” and “Goin Thru Some Thangs.” Hopefully, Yella can break through in Dallas and beyond.
These Machines Are Winning
These Machines Are Winning may be underrated, but it is not slacking. The ambitious band released two albums simultaneously in 2015 and this year announced an even more ambitious endeavor: the release of three new albums, plus a three-part comic book collection called Slaves for Gods. Dylan Silvers, the founder of the project, says the band will continue to maintain its '80s new wave and electro-pop aesthetic.
Pat Ron and Ease are a dynamic rap duo and have released music together for years, but they’re not a group. They may be best buds in a Cheech and Chong fashion, but they also operate independently as solo artists. Pat Ron gets booked more frequently, but Ease's catalog and flow are just as solid, and it's time for him to step out and start getting more gigs himself. Ease's laid-back style lends itself to a vast array of beats, but the stoner raps he makes with Pat Ron are some of the best tracks coming out of North Texas.
North Texas loves its revivalist acts — just look at Leon Bridges and Charley Crockett. So it’s a wonder why Acid Carousel hasn’t earned more notoriety with its tongue-in-cheek 1960s psychedelic rock album, Higher Than the Beatles!, and Tangerine Dream Machine EP. The open invitation band features former members of Moon Waves, Ariel Hartley of Pearl Earl and just about anyone else who’s looking to recreate those '60s vibes.
Pyrex Pirates is a group of three rappers from Oak Cliff who deserve your attention. Its thrilling live performances have turned heads since it started opening on local bills. Crowdsurfing and moshing are common. Sometimes people ride atop the crowd on inflatable rafts. Pyrex Pirates has matched the intensity of those performances with a deep catalog of music that puts it in an interesting sector of hip-hop. On one hand, its music is lo-fi and cryptic, similar to Three Six Mafia’s early work on Mystic Stylez; on the other, its punk rock influence is very current.
Ignatius is the most enigmatic act on this list. His identity is unknown, and his music carries that same mysterious quality. The tracks are operatic, slow, moody and propelled by ringing chords and reverberated drums. His most popular song, "The Natural," is also his most approachable. On it, Ignatius shows off the full, wondrous range of his voice. It would be a treat to see him perform the track live.
Every musical move Conner Youngblood makes is tracked by blogs like Noisey, Stereogum, The Fader, Pigeons and Planes, and even the BBC. But he's not very well known in his hometown of Dallas. The multi-instrumentalist made headlines last month with the release of “Everyday,” his first of 2017. It’s a beautiful track featuring complex instrumentation and soothing vocals. Dallas is Youngblood’s home, but he also spends time in Connecticut, New York and Nashville.
88 Killa is the most established artist on this list; he’s no newcomer. Since the bygone days of Dallas’ hip-hop collective Brain Gang, Killa has been relegated to the shadows by the individual success of fellow Brain Gang-ers Justus, Blue the Misfit, Bobby Sessions and Sam Lao, but he's still one of the most skilled emcees in the area and boasts the "it" factor to boot. His music has an old-school aesthetic with the four-finger ring and fur coat to match, and he’s one of the better rappers in a live setting.
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KissedKilled is part of the illustrious Independent Recording Arts Society crew that’s introduced Dallas favorites such as Devy Stonez, Terrance Spectacle and Larce Blake. The most intriguing aspect of that collective of artists is that each exists in his or her own lane and style of music.
KissedKilled’s style is downtempo, ethereal R&B laced with variant rapping and singing that is reminiscent of the early work of The Weeknd, Bryson Tiller and PartyNextDoor. He’s been releasing music and contributing features since 2013, but he’s rarely booked, and his 2017 EP, Kinda, received little publicity — which is a shame because the four tracks are smooth, impassioned and easy to keep on repeat.